By Mike Whitney
There’s something that doesn’t ring-true about the coverage of crisis in Iraq. Maybe it’s the way the media reiterates the same, tedious storyline over and over again with only the slightest changes in the narrative.
For example, I was reading an article in the Financial Times by Council on Foreign Relations president, Richard Haass, where he says that Maliki’s military forces in Mosul “melted away”. Interestingly, the Haass op-ed was followed by a piece by David Gardener who used almost the very same language. He said the “army melts away.” So, I decided to thumb through the news a bit and see how many other journalists were stung by the “melted away” bug.
And, as it happens, there were quite a few, including Politico, NBC News, News Sentinel, Global Post, the National Interest, ABC News etc. Now, the only way an unusual expression like that would pop up with such frequency would be if the authors were getting their talking points from a central authority. (which they probably do.) But the effect, of course, is the exact opposite than what the authors intend, that is, these cookie cutter stories leave readers scratching their heads and feeling like something fishy is going on.
And something fishy IS going on. The whole fable about 1,500 jihadis scaring the pants off 30,000 Iraqi security guards to the point where they threw away their rifles, changed their clothes and headed for the hills, is just not believable. I don’t know what happened in Mosul, but, I’ll tell you one thing, it wasn’t that. That story just doesn’t pass the smell test.
And what happened in Mosul matters too, because nearly every journalist and pundit in the MSM is using the story to discredit Maliki and suggest that maybe Iraq would be better off without him. Haass says that it shows that the army’s “allegiance to the government is paper thin”. Gardener says its a sign of “a fast failing state.” Other op-ed writers like Nicolas Kristof attack Maliki for other reasons, like being too sectarian. Here’s Kristof:
“The debacle in Iraq isn’t President Obama’s fault. It’s not the Republicans’ fault. Both bear some responsibility, but, overwhelmingly, it’s the fault of the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri Kamal al-Maliki.”
Of course, Kristof is no match for the imperial mouthpiece, Tom Friedman. When it comes to pure boneheaded bluster, Friedman is still numero uno. Here’s how the jowly pundit summed it up in an article in the Sunday Times titled “Five Principles for Iraq”:
“Iraq’s Shiite prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, has proved himself not to be a friend of a democratic, pluralistic Iraq either. From Day 1, he has used his office to install Shiites in key security posts, drive out Sunni politicians and generals and direct money to Shiite communities. In a word, Maliki has been a total jerk. Besides being prime minister, he made himself acting minister of defense, minister of the interior and national security adviser, and his cronies also control the Central Bank and the Finance Ministry.
Maliki had a choice — to rule in a sectarian way or in an inclusive way — and he chose sectarianism. We owe him nothing.” (Five Principles for Iraq, Tom Freidman, New York Times)
Leave it to Friedman, eh? In other words, the reason Iraq is such a mess, has nothing to do with the invasion, the occupation, the death squads, Abu Ghraib, the Salvador Option, the decimated infrastructure, the polluted environment, or the vicious sectarian war the US ignited with its demented counterinsurgency program. Oh, no. The reason Iraq is a basketcase is because Maliki is a jerk. Maliki is sectarian. Bad Maliki.
Sound familiar? Putin last week. Maliki this week. Who’s next?
In any event, there is a rational explanation for what happened in Mosul although I cannot verify its authenticity. Check out this post at Syria Perspectives blog:
“…the Iraqi Ba’ath Party’s primary theoretician and Saddam’s right-hand man, ‘Izzaat Ibraaheem Al-Douri, himself a native of Mosul…was searching out allies in a very hostile post-Saddam Iraq … Still on the run and wanted for execution by the Al-Maliki government, Al-Douri still controlled a vast network of Iraqi Sunni Ba’athists who operated in a manner similar to the old Odessa organization that helped escaped Nazis after WWII … he did not have the support structure needed to oust Al-Maliki, so, he found an odd alliance in ISIS through the offices of Erdoghan and Bandar. Our readers should note that the taking of Mosul was accomplished by former Iraqi Ba’athist officers suspiciously abandoning their posts and leaving a 52,000 man military force without any leadership thereby forcing a complete collapse of the city’s defenses. The planning and collaboration cannot be coincidental.” (THE INNER CORE OF ISIS – THE INVASIVE SPECIES, Ziad Fadel, Syrian Perspectives)
I’ve read variations of this same explanation on other blogs, but I have no way of knowing whether they’re true or not. But what I do know, is that it’s a heckuva a lot more believable than the other explanation mainly because it provides enough background and detail to make the scenario seem plausible. The official version–the “melts away” version– doesn’t do that at all. It just lays out this big bogus story expecting people to believe it on faith alone. Why? Because it appeared in all the papers?
That seems like a particularly bad reason for believing anything.
And the “army melting away” story is just one of many inconsistencies in the official media version of events. Another puzzler is why Obama allowed the jihadis to rampage across Iraq without lifting a finger to help. Does that strike anyone else as a bit odd?
When was the last time an acting president failed to respond immediately and forcefully to a similar act of aggression?
Never. The US always responds. And the pattern is always the same. “Stop what you are doing now or we’re going to bomb you to smithereens.” Isn’t that the typical response?
Sure it is. But Obama delivered no such threat this time. Instead, he’s qualified his support for al-Maliki saying that the beleaguered president must “begin accommodating Sunni participation in his government” before the US will lend a hand. What kind of lame response is that? Check out this blurb from MNI News:
“President Barack Obama Friday warned Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that the United States wants him to begin accommodating Sunni participation in his government, or see the United States withhold the help he needs, short of U.S. troops on the ground, to ward off an attack on Baghdad.
Obama added the emphasis of an appearance before TV cameras to his midday message, that while he will be considering options for some military intervention in the days ahead, the next move is up to Maliki.”
(Obama Warns Iraq’s Maliki,Looking for Sunni-Shia Accommodation, MNI)
Have you ever read such nonsense in your life? Imagine if , let’s say, the jihadi hordes had gathered just 50 miles outside of London and were threatening to invade at any minute. Do you think Obama would deliver the same message to UK Prime Minister David Cameron?
“Gee, Dave, we’d really like to help out, but you need to put a couple of these guys in your government first. Would that be okay, Dave? Just think of it as affirmative action for terrorists.”
It might sound crazy, but that’s what Obama wants Maliki to do. So, what’s going on here? Why is Obama delivering ultimatums when he should be helping out? Could it be that Obama has a different agenda than Maliki’s and that the present situation actually works to his benefit?
It sure looks that way. Just take a look at what Friedman says further on in the same article. It helps to clarify the point. He says:
“Maybe Iran, and its wily Revolutionary Guards Quds Force commander, Gen. Qassem Suleimani, aren’t so smart after all. It was Iran that armed its Iraqi Shiite allies with the specially shaped bombs that killed and wounded many American soldiers. Iran wanted us out. It was Iran that pressured Maliki into not signing an agreement with the U.S. to give our troops legal cover to stay in Iraq. Iran wanted to be the regional hegemon. Well, Suleimani: “This Bud’s for you.” Now your forces are overextended in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, and ours are back home. Have a nice day.” (5 Principles for Iraq, Tom Friedman, New York Times)
Interesting, eh? Friedman basically admits that this whole fiasco is about Iran who turned out to be the biggest winner in the Iraq War sweepstakes. Naturally, that pisses off people in Washington, Tel Aviv and Riyadh to no end, so they’ve cooked up this goofy plan to either remove Maliki altogether or significantly trim his wings. Isn’t that what’s going on? And that’s why Obama is holding a gun to Maliki’s head and telling him what hoops he has to jump through in order to get US help. Because he’s determined to weaken Iran’s hegemonic grip on Baghdad.
Friedman also notes the Status of Forces agreement which would have allowed U.S. troops to stay in Iraq. Al Maliki rejected the deal which enraged Washington setting the stage for this latest terrorist farce. Obama intends to reverse that decision by hook or crook. This is just the way Washington does business, by twisting arms and breaking legs. Everybody knows this.
To understand what’s going on today in Iraq, we need to know a little history. In 2002, The Bush administration commissioned the Rand Corporation “to develop a Shaping Strategy for pacifying Muslim populations where the US has commercial or strategic interests.” The plan they came up with–which was called “US Strategy in the Muslim World after 9-11”– recommended that the US, “Align its policy with Shiite groups who aspire to have more participation in government and greater freedoms of political and religious expression. If this alignment can be brought about, it could erect a barrier against radical Islamic movements and may create a foundation for a stable U.S. position in the Middle East.”
The Bushies decided to follow this wacky plan which proved to be a huge tactical error. By throwing their weight behind the Shia, they triggered a massive Sunni rebellion that initiated as many as 100 attacks per day on US soldiers. That, in turn, led to a savage US counterinsurgency that wound up killing tens of thousands of Sunnis while reducing much of the country to ruins. Petraeus’ vicious onslaught was concealed behind the misleading PR smokescreen of sectarian civil war. It was actually a genocidal war against the people who Obama now tacitly supports in Mosul and Tikrit.
So there’s been a huge change of policy, right? And the fact that the US has taken a hands-off approach to Isis suggests that the Obama administration has abandoned the Rand strategy altogether and is looking for ways to support Sunni-led groups in their effort to topple the Al Assad regime in Damascus, weaken Hezbollah, and curtail Iran’s power in the region. While the strategy is ruthless and despicable, at least it makes sense in the perverted logic of imperial expansion, which the Rand plan never did.
What is happening in Iraq today was anticipated in a 2007 Seymour Hersh article titled “The Redirection.” Author Tony Cartalucci gives a great summary of the piece in his own article. He says:
“The Redirection,” documents…US, Saudi, and Israeli intentions to create and deploy sectarian extremists region-wide to confront Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hersh would note that these “sectarian extremists” were either tied to Al Qaeda, or Al Qaeda itself. The ISIS army moving toward Baghdad is the final manifestation of this conspiracy, a standing army operating with impunity, threatening to topple the Syrian government, purge pro-Iranian forces in Iraq, and even threatening Iran itself by building a bridge from Al Qaeda’s NATO safe havens in Turkey, across northern Iraq, and up to Iran’s borders directly…
It is a defacto re-invasion of Iraq by Western interests – but this time without Western forces directly participating – rather a proxy force the West is desperately attempting to disavow any knowledge of or any connection to.” (America’s Covert Re-Invasion of Iraq, Tony Cartalucci, Information Clearinghouse)
So, now we’re getting to the crux of the matter, right? Now we should be able to identify the policy that is guiding events. What we know for sure is that the US wants to break Iran’s grip on Iraq. But how do they plan to achieve that; that’s the question?
Well, they could use their old friends the Baathists who they’ve been in touch with since 2007. That might work. But then they’d have to add a few jihadis to the mix to make it look believable.
Okay. But does that mean that Obama is actively supporting Isis?
No, not necessarily. Isis is already connected to other Intel agencies and might not need direct support from the US. (Note: Many analysts have stated that the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) receives generous donations from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, both of whom are staunch US allies. According to London’s Daily Express: “through allies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the West (has) supported militant rebel groups which have since mutated into ISIS and other al‑Qaeda connected militias. ( Daily Telegraph, June 12, 2014)
What’s important as far as Obama is concerned, is that the strategic objectives of Isis and those of the United States coincide. Both entities seek greater political representation for Sunnis, both want to minimize Iranian influence in Iraq, and both support a soft partition plan that former president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Leslie H. Gelb, called “The only viable strategy to correct (Iraq ‘s) historical defect and move in stages toward a three-state solution: Kurds in the north, Sunnis in the center and Shiites in the south.” This is why Obama hasn’t attacked the militia even though it has marched to within 50 miles of Baghdad. It’s because the US benefits from these developments.
Does the US Government “support” or “not support” terrorism depending on the situation?
Have foreign Intel agencies supplied terrorist organizations in Syria with weapons and logistical support?
Has the CIA?
Has the Obama administration signaled that they would like to get rid of al Maliki or greatly reduce his power?
Is this because they think the present arrangement strengthens Iran’s regional influence?
Will Isis invade Baghdad?
No. (This is just a guess, but I expect that something has been already worked out between the Obama team and the Baathist leaders. If Baghdad was really in danger, Obama would probably be acting with greater earnestness.)
Will Syria and Iraq be partitioned?
Is Isis a CIA creation?
No. According to Ziad Fadel, “ISIS is the creation of the one man who played Alqaeda like a yo-yo. Bandar bin Sultan.”
Does Isis take orders from Washington or the CIA?
Probably not, although their actions appear to coincide with US strategic objectives. (which is the point!)
Is Obama’s reluctance to launch an attack on Isis indicate that he wants to diminish Iran’s power in Iraq, redraw the map of the Middle East, and create politically powerless regions run by warlords and tribal leaders?
Yes, yes and yes.