Iraq: Qualified Support for the Stop the War Coalition?
ISIS Islamic Justice (from Fightback, Marxist Journal).
A great deal has been said on the unfolding civil war in Iraq.
Tony Blair’s remarks, justifying past, and future, military interventions, have, rightly, caused an uproar.
One of the most respected and reliable writers on the Middle East, Robert Fisk, has observed,
How do they get away with these lies? Now Tony Blair tells us that Western “inaction” in Syria has produced the Iraq crisis. But since bombing Syria would have brought to power in Damascus the very Islamists who are now threatening Baghdad, it must therefore be a mercy that Barack Obama does not listen to the likes of Blair.
Father Frans van der Lugt was a martyr of Homs, refusing to leave his Christian flock and Muslim friends throughout the years of siege, imploring the world to pity the innocent and the starving until, on 7 April this year, gunmen arrived in the church garden and murdered him. They came from the Nusra forces – the Assad regime called them terrorists, the opposition said, of course, that if Assad had not besieged Homs, the 72-year-old Catholic priest would not have died. He is buried a few metres away, his grave a cheap wooden cross surrounded by flowers. From a photograph, his bespectacled face stares at us. The Pope later prayed for Van der Lugt’s soul.
I suppose if the West had bombed Damascus last year – as Blair bombed Baghdad in 2003 – Father Francis might have lived. But then again, he might have been murdered much earlier by the Islamists we would have been helping.
Lindsey German of the Stop the War Coalition has commented on Blair,
Stop the War Coalition convenor Lindsey German condemned his discredited views and the airtime he was given to peddle them, including an appearance on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.
Ms German told the Star: “Blair has yet again been given a lengthy platform to promote his demented warmongering.”
And she said it was precisely the bombing of the country’s infrastructures 11 years ago that lead to “disastrous consequences which are still playing out to the cost of the Iraqi people.”
Ms German called on Mr Blair to step down from his role as Middle East peace convoy.
She said it was a “a job for which he lacks a single qualification.”
Ms German wasn’t alone in her criticisms as politicians and the public piled into the ex-PM.
Former international development secretary Clare Short — who stepped down from her role over the invasion of Iraq — labelled her former boss as a “complete American neocon.”
Mr Blair’s opinions, she argued, were “absolutely, consistently wrong, wrong, wrong.”
“More bombing will not solve it, it will just exacerbate it,” she urged.
Socialist Worker, as one would expect, simply regurgitates the line that it’s all the fault of the Western Intervention.
Iraq’s spiral into a new sectarian war is a result of the occupation, and the tactics used by western forces to defeat the 2004 national uprising.
At the time, the US and its coalition allies sought to engineer sectarian tensions to divide a growing national liberation movement.
Perhaps they will enlighten us as to what this “national liberation” movement was, and where it has gone.
What stand then should or could people on the left take on the Iraqi tragedy?
Intervention looks set to exaggerbate the horrors: fueled by the conflicts between a wide range of forces opposed to the Baghdad government (and not just ISIS). Whether Iran and the USA will co-operate, and a host of other ‘whethers and ifs’ do not make other predictions about the outcome easy. There is also this important contribution to consider 7 Myths about the Radical Sunni Advance in Iraq which urges caution on the part of the West and a sobre approach to the threats.
In general, and in respect to intervention, the Stop the War Coalition has got strong arguments on its side.
The Irish left journal Fightback sums up their nature.
The ISIS has its roots in the militias that formed the Iraqi branch of Al-Qaeda. Until recently it was a marginalised group within the Islamist movement which viewed it as too extreme. It gained notoriety for its brutal and barbaric methods of crucifixion and decapitation. It was mainly isolated to desert and tribal areas of western Iraq, where the disintegration of the Iraqi state and the backwardness of these areas allowed ISIS to gain a foothold.
Over the past year, the group has rapidly grown. This, combined with the increased income, allowed it to take bolder initiatives. It is on this basis that the offensive of ISIS could widen out and develop a momentum. From fighting the Iraqi army in the desert and the tribal areas the group moved into the cities. Its success came as a surprise, as it is one thing to to roam around in war ridden Syria and an entirely different matter to fight in Iraq, with its numerically overwhelming army.
The real reason why they could do this is the rotten character of the corrupt gangster regime of Nouri al-Maliki, who has been whipping up sectarian conflict for years. His gangster methods and the widespread corruption has alienated layer after layer of the population. At the same time poverty and unemployment is rife. According to the World Bank, 28% of Iraqi families live below the poverty line. In the event that the country would face a major crisis, such as the armed conflicts of the past year, the organization’s estimates that this rate could increase by 70%. Thousands of families literally feed on garbage and live in landfills and slums.
Whether, as Fightback asserts, ISIS is the “creation of imperialism” is less clear.
The Daily Beast claims the following, “The extremist group that is threatening the existence of the Iraqi state was built and grown for years with the help of elite donors from American supposed allies in the Persian Gulf region. There, the threat of Iran, Assad, and the Sunni-Shiite sectarian war trumps the U.S. goal of stability and moderation in the region.”
More recent funding has come from their control over a variety of rackets and their seizure of oil fields.
This and other aspects of ISIS and their leader, Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri, are analysed at length by specialists.
One thing we can see immediate evidence of is the Sharia law regime they have established in Mosul.
Since taking over Mosul, members of the group have been handing out documents to residents, stating that Islamic law is binding from now on and which ban any contact with the Iraqi government and its institutions.
Police and security forces were given the opportunity to ask for a pardon, and the document stress that those who do not do so are likely to be given a death sentence.
Men will be required to participate in public worship and those who do not will be sentenced to received lashes, while women will be required to cover their faces and remain permanently in their homes and not leave them unless necessary, the documents state.
Robbers and thieves will be sentenced to death, crucifixion or cutting off of hands and feet. Carrying weapons is now prohibited, and the penalty for violating this directive is death.
The group has begun turning southward towards Baghdad, after conquering Mosul and several other northern cities this week in a lightning offensive.
We hardly need to be reminded of their utter and undying hatred of Shias.
There are British jihadists fighting with ISIS.
One wonders if anybody will dare compare them to volunteers defending the Spanish Republic.