Sunday, June 15, 2014
Iraqi winds of Islamist chaos
Dr. Reuven Berko
The success of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (abbreviated "ISIS") in chasing the Iraqi army out of the country's southeastern cities, as well as its steady advance south toward Baghdad, has exposed the hollow vessel that is the United States' Iraq strategy. ISIS fighters have shown their clearly superior combat skills fighting the conservative Iraqi army, which was trained by the U.S. according to the norms and ethical codes of earlier wars.
A dangerous, contiguous territorial corridor has been established between Iraq and Syria, which connects Islamist territories in eastern Syria with most of Iraq's south and west provinces. These territories have been conquered by terrorist Sunni groups, which, just like al-Qaida and its proxies, are bent on realizing the vision of a modern Islamic caliphate.
The brazen, armed guerilla groups' predilection for advanced weaponry and radical Islamist ideology as Shiite troops flee in all directions has become conspicuously apparent as the clashes continue to unfold. Interestingly, the hit-and-run tactic was also used by Muslim conquerors in the seventh century C.E., during the era of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. For the next several hundred years, that tactic was precisely what allowed ragtag gangs of wandering marauders armed with little more than scimitars to overcome the imperial armies of the time.
The road to hell is paved with America's good intentions. The U.S. has spawned chaos in Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, North Korea and across Africa. American adventurism nearly cost Israel dearly in the Golan Heights and Judea and Samaria. The U.S. itself has paid a high price for its recklessness in countless deaths, substantial capital, sworn allies and weapons that disappeared amid its various enterprises. Battered and torn, the U.S. has withdrawn to policing the world from history's back seat and, as we all know, back-seat driving is a surefire recipe for disaster.
American officials were quick to proclaim the need to stop ISIS' efforts. Meanwhile, the U.S. is forced to maintain twisted ties with "friendly" Islamist nations, which provide weapons and money to such radical Islamist groups, because they help counter Iran, the bitter Shiite enemy, and Iran's proxies, such as the Maliki government in Iraq, Syria's Assad regime and Hezbollah in Lebanon, although they fear these "infidel" movements' threats against them, too.
The U.S., in its state of confusion, has equipped the "good, moderate Muslims" with advanced weaponry to fight the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad while being defeated on the battlefield. Thanks to Islamist mobility and loyalty, that U.S. aid has boomeranged, emboldening the likes of al-Qaida and ISIS.
The Islamist code demands that al-Qaida and ISIS focus their attention on battling the enemy that is near first, saving the distant enemy for later. This is precisely why the modern caliphate's military leaders are stuck in a predicament: whether to finish off the work that the Arab Spring started, overthrowing heretical Sunni-dominant governments in Egypt, Yemen, Jordan and the Gulf states, then turning their attention to the great Shiite enemy in Iran -- or continuing to confront Iran's Revolutionary Guards along bloody lines in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.
As part of U.S. President Barack Obama's commitment to his allies,the Americans must stop dithering, uphold their values and keep the Islamists from reaching the border with Jordan, the Golan Heights, the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf. It must leave the Iranians (who, de facto, control Iraq anyway) to deal with the Sunni threat by themselves.
Or, on the contrary, if the Iranians want American aid against Sunni terrorists in Iraq and Syria, then they should pay in "nuclear currency," so to speak. If not, the U.S. ought to simply watch from the sidelines.