With now more than 40 Indian workers that have been abducted by the terror organisation ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), another 18,000 Indian workers stranded, and the possibility of a steep hike in global oil prices, the Indian people and media have begun to pay attention to the growing crisis across the West Asian-Middle East region.
It was barely a few weeks ago that an international team of observers, including five Indians, were present in Syria to monitor the general elections, which were being held in a war-torn state under the shadow of an ISIS threat. This very ISIS, that stands defeated in Syria, has now captured parts of North and West Iraq. So what is the exact genesis and nature of problem that confronts the region and world?
ISIS operations aim to destabilise and partition the region, by promoting religio-sectarian fanaticism and visceral hatred. This was precisely the reason as to why a majority of nations had opposed the US-Nato war and occupation of Iraq in 1991 and 2003, that was built on the pretext of weapons of mass destruction that were never found, as well as on the agenda to fight Al Qaeda, which again, at that time, was never present in Iraq. The US intervention and wars have only further radicalised the region, and thus holds major responsibility for the current crisis.
In Syria, the primary US-Saudi-Turkish objective was 'regime change'. In Iraq, the objective is to basically instigate a Shia-Sunni civil war that will destroy, balkanise, and weaken Iran.
Firstly, we will deal with Syria, where the secular government and the Syrian Arab Army led by President Bashar al Assad, has successfully managed to foil the imperialist designs. Following the elections of June 3, 2014, Assad has arisen as a far more popular leader than ever before. Despite the state of war, more than 73.40% of the people voted during the Syrian elections and Assad received 88% of the popular votes.
We, as observers, spread across Damascus, Homs. Lattakia, Tartous and even Aleppo witnessed the fact that the elections were not only free and fair, but also were simply inspiring. Syrian people were determined to exercise their vote, as they knew that the world was watching. The Syrian people voted against regime change, for a democratic secular plural multi-religious, multi-ethnic society and rejected sectarian division and strife. They clearly rejected religious fanaticism. The campaign of vilification launched by the Western media against Bashar al Assad stood defeated, and so now Syria has vanished from our TV screens and newspapers.
What is worrying that US President Barack Obama recently stated that the US would continue to arm the so-called moderate opposition 'Free Syrian Army', which will finally see those very weapons reach the ISIS and Jabhat al Nusra-Qaeda in Syria. The sectarian propaganda against Assad, too, stood exposed. He emerged as a unifying national figure and the leader of a sovereign state, having stayed with his people during the worst crisis. The opposition was dominated by religious extremists and mainly foreign Jehadists who were mobilised, funded, armed and trained from across 45 nations, numbering between 50,000 to 100,000, thus a veritable army. However, the religious fanatics had alienated the local Syrian population with their extremist form of Islam, where they imposed and perpetrated barbaric atrocities. These groups were soon known to the world as new variants of Al Qaeda—namely the Jabhat al Nusra and the ISIS among others.
According to many strategic experts and journalists like Seymour Hersh, the ISIS, led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (who was released from a US captivity in 2007 or 2009 is a CIA asset), are basically covert operations of US-Saudi intelligence agencies. If true, once again we see the evidence of CIA-Mossad creating terror organisations to achieve their strategic objectives, which would prove that the US and its allies deploy terror to attain their strategic objectives.
The next objective in Syria was to control the newly found oil-gas resources of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, discovered in 2010, of which Syria was the biggest gainer.
The third objective was to control the contending Pipeline routes—from Iran-Iraq-Syria to the Mediterranean and towards Europe; and from Saudi-Qatar-Jordan via Syria towards Europe.
Syria also continues to be integral to the 'arch of the resistance' and thus poses a challenge to the Israeli-US hegemony of the region. Syria continues to support the Palestinian cause despite economic sanctions and other forms of isolation. However the imperial powers failed to destroy the Iran, Iraq, Syria, Hezbollah-Lebanon, Palestine resistance axis.
Syria is at peace with itself, and religions thrive side by side in a vibrant multi-religious, multi-cultural and a multi-ethnic society. The plan to partition Syria along Sunni-Shia-Alawite-Christian-Kurd plan were also defeated during this election.
And so moving on after having faced a defeat in Syria, the ISIS forces retreated from many of their Syrian strongholds in the North and East entering Iraq. The world remained stunned at the success of ISIS and we were told “that the Iraqi Army simply melted away”. But this was certainly not the explanation, as many cities and towns in the North and West fell without a fight.
Later, it became clear that there is a strong sentiment of the Sunni minority against the Nour al Maliki Shia-led government. The opposition consists of many Sunni tribes, Naqhsbandis, as well as Baathist from the remnants of the Saddam regime. These are the very sections that needed to be reached out to and accommodated. These were the elements that ensured that the Iraqi Army in Mosul and Tikrit would not offer any resistance to ISIS. Soon the opposition was in Baqouba, barely 60 kms from Baghdad, and the possibility of a Sunni-Shia civil war leading to the trifurcation of Iraq seemed a horrifying possibility.
Another disturbing element in this sectarian crisis is the rise of 'Takfirism' – whereby the most fanatical section of Muslims lay their claim to all of Islam, declaring the rest as heretics and thus punishable by death, for which they believe will attain them heaven for their holy mass murder and worse.
And again, from where did the ISIS emerge as a threat enough to take over large parts of Iraq? Are we to believe that they raised money by robbing banks and seeking donations on 'Twitter' to buy advanced weaponry and pay the mercenary army? This is entirely untrue and a pathetic lie. It seems to be an a CIA-backed operation, financed by the Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait. This has been evident ever since the Syrian crisis began and now again in Iraq.
Also note that Dick Cheney, Richard Clarke, as well as Israeli officials are all on record stating that if the Al Qaeda-ISIS were to engage in a war with Iran and its regional allies such as Hezbollah and the Syrian government, they would welcome one enemy fighting the other. This is precisely the reason for the rise of the Qaeda-ISIS in the region, e specially in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon as well, with funds and lethal weaponry from the Saudi-US alliance.
Also these are the stated Israeli objectives in the Oded Yinon plan of 1982 and the Neocon document 'Clean Break – A Strategy to Secure the Realm'—authored by Jewish Zionists Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, the cheerleaders for the Iraq invasion in 2003.
The mortal threat of this crisis is:
* An all out Sunni-Shia civil war across Iraq, to weaken and destroy Iran, to further spread across the region, enveloping the Arab and Muslim world;
* Rise of further fanatical extremist terror organisations with grave implications for Indian national security. Just imagine a combination of the Tehreek-i-Taliban, Lashkar-i-Tayyaba and ISIS;
* The success of the US-Israeli imperial strategy of covertly creating religious extremist terrorist organisations to destabilise entire nations, create religious divides and civil wars.
Here are some possible solutions:
* In the case of Syria, the government has successfully isolated and vanquished the terrorists, whilst reaching out to all the communities. They have also undertaken Constitutional reform, to confer more rights to the people. In Syria, there is certainly an emerging vibrant civil society that will further struggle, protect and deepen the gains of democracy, which is the best anti-dote to authoritarianism, religious fanaticism and sectarianism.
* As for Iraq, though the situation appears more volatile and complex, the answers and solutions are as simple. It’s a matter of reaching out to the Sunni minority and co-opting them into the power structure of the state. As for the Arab Shia’s and Kurds, both who suffered untold marginalisation and atrocities under the brutal Saddam regime, they have engaged and have arrived at an agreement, which they now need to extend to the Sunni minority.
* The PM Nuri al Maliki, appears to be more of a sectarian Shia PM, than the PM of Iraq, or the leader of the Iraqi people. Thus, either Maliki will have to change and ensure that he reaches out to the Sunni population and wins their confidence—or resign! Another leader who enjoys the support and confidence of the Sunni minority will then have to take over the reins of a government of national unity.
* At the same time, the government needs to isolate and defeat the ISIS terrorists by military means. The ISIS Takfiris have destroyed many holy shrines, and they threaten to destroy the very shrines of Imam Ali (Najaf), Imam Hussain, Imam Hassan (Karbala), Syeda Zainab (Damascus), as well as other Muslim and Christian holy Churches, Mosques and shrines—the impact of which will be disastrous and set in motion a series of events that will be unstoppable—and herein lies the danger.
* The regional powers namely Saudi Arabia and Iran too need to reach an agreement. This is also a regional war between these two Wahhabi and Shia powers respectively, that is currently underway and a part of the regional problem. It is only then can a sense of peace be achieved within and amongst the Arab and Muslim nations. This will further weaken the US-Nato presence in the region, where the foes turned friends will not have to depend upon the US for "protection".
Both the Syrian and Iraqi crisis are crucial to the cause of regional and world peace. If the Takfiri menace grows, it will soon reach the borders of India, with grave implications for our national security. Thus our political parties, mass organisations, media and intellectuals must take serious note of the situation and forge alliances with the secular and moderate elements in the nations struggling to counter this grave and mortal threat.
(The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of dna)
(Author is a Mumbai-based political activist. The writer was present in Syria in February 2013 and again in June 2014 to observe their elections)