Stanly Johny

A scribe by sheer accident, Stanly Johny is a PhD in international relations from JNU, and keeps an eye wide open for politics, and the other for almost everything else under the sun.

Stanly Johny

Iraq: A tragedy foretold

| Updated on June 15, 2014

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has declared independence from Iraq and Syria, and the red shows its area of control. Map source: Wikimedia Commons

Iraqi PM Nouri Kamil Al-Maliki

The state George W Bush "liberated" is fighting its greatest post-Saddam crisis as Islamic militants are steadily improving their gains while marching on towards Baghdad

First Falluja, then Mosul, and now Tikrit. The pace at which the al Qaeda-inspired militant group Islamic State in Iraq (ISIS) is taking control of Iraqi cities is stunning. The state the Americans built over the years after crushing Saddam Hussein’s Iraq is crumbling away.

ISIS’ seizure of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, early this week, is by far the greatest victory of the militant group that wants to establish an Islamic emirate straddling Iraq and Syria. They have captured the main military base in Mosul, released hundreds of prisoners, and seized up to $480 million from the city's banks. They are now about 100 km south of Baghdad, and have vowed to march towards the Iraqi capital. The Institute for the Study of War reports that ISIS attacked Mosul with 150 vehicles armed with mounted crew-served weapons and between 500 and 800 troops. It says Iraqi troops just fled when they came under heavy attack.

ISIS has its roots in the al-Qaeda of Iraq. They were actually beaten in late 2000s, but Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed leader of the ISIS, regrouped the remnants of the Iraqi Qaeda in the wake of the Syrian crisis. It was easy for him to recruit militants from among Sunnis in Iraq who were not only left out of the political process under Nouri al-Maliki's Shia-dominated government in Baghdad but were also persecuted.

He sent militants across the border to Syria to fight President Bashar al Assad, whose Alawite-dominated government is fighting Sunni opposition in a protracted civil war. The al-Nusra Front, the Syrian wing of the al Qaeda, had joined hands with Baghdadi's troops to fight Assad’s forces. They emerged the most powerful extremist group in the Syrian theatre. The Gulf kingdoms, especially the Saudis and the Kuwaitis, helped them. The Saudi royal family desperately wanted Assad gone (for geopolitical and ideological reasons), and therefore, was ready to back anybody to bleed Syria.

Baghdadi became a potent force in no time, and stepped up Jihadi-style attacks in Iraq. In 2013, some 8,300 Iraqis were killed in sectarian/terror-related attacks, a jump from the year before. The border between Iraq and Syria is effectively erased. ISIS controls some parts of eastern Syria. In Iraq, they took Falluja and Ramadi and parts of the Anbar province early this year. With the fall of Mosul, their influence in the Nineveh province became stronger. Baghdad may already be feeling the heat.

As Vijay Prashad, author of The Poorer Nations, said, the people of Iraq and Syria are “prisoners of a burning prison”. George W Bush, the former president of US who invaded Iraq in 2003, must be singing aloud, 'But you 're an animal, baby it's in your nature. Just let me liberate you (again)'.

Published on June 15, 2014

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