Looks like the whole world has decided to fight ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, one way or the other. At least, that’s how it looks on online news sites. By the minute, stories are posted on the Internet on the almost unbelievable savagery practiced by ISIL and the retarded thought they embrace. Footage and photos of the beheadings and crucifixions are painfully shocking and defy all humane values, as does the banning of art, music and literature from school curricula in the areas they control, their oppression of women, and the numbers of westerners or foreigners who join their ranks.
“Beyond the pale”
Last week saw United States Secretary of State John Kerry visit the Middle East to forge a coalition against the ISIL jihadis. Both the White House and the Pentagon stressed that the US is now “at war” with the group that has seized large chunks of Iraq and Syria. Yet, three years after the end of the nine-year US military presence in Iraq which some observers say birthed what is now ISIL, Obama avoided the explicit mention of “war” and stressed to the war weary Americans that he would not send ground forces into combat.
Retired US general John Allen, the ex-commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan who also led troops in western Iraq, has been named to lead the international effort against ISIL. Allen has said that ISIL “is an entity beyond the pale of humanity and must be eradicated. If we delay now, we will pay later.”
In Ankara, Kerry spoke of “a broad-based coalition with Arab nations, European nations, the US and others”. Yet Turkey, a NATO member, refused to open its air bases for use against the jihadis. This brought on an avalanche of online reader comments to the effect that a Muslim would never raise a gun against another Muslim, casting strong public doubts on the effectiveness of any coalition Kerry was building.
The previous day in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Kerry secured the backing of 10 Arab States for the required coalition. However, Washington has insisted it will not work with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The conflict in Syria has killed around 200,000 people in three and half years, turned some three million into refugees outside their country, and allowed the emergence ISIL, described by the State-owned Cairo daily al-Ahram as the most violent and powerful group in modern jihad.
Why should Egypt help?
In a major offensive in Iraq that began last June, ISIL swept through the heartland of the Sunnis who felt angry and alienated by the powerful Iraqi Shia, and declared a caliphate straddling both countries. A staggering 1.8 million Iraqis, among whom were the Christians who refused to give up their faith, were displaced. Mosul Christians were forced to leave on foot, leaving behind all their belongings.
The CIA put the number of fighters in ISIL ranks at 20,000 to 31,500 in Iraq and Syria.
France was quick to offer taking displaced Christians in, but President Hollande later said: “Our first duty is to fight against terrorism, not to give in to terrorism by drawing people out of their homeland”. Germany ruled out taking part in air strikes against ISIL, but it outlawed providing active support to the group and warned that it poses a threat to Europe.
News of Kerry’s visit last week to Cairo drew the ire of online news sites visitors.
On Yahoo news, some 40 per cent of 400plus bloggers asked why should the US expect Cairo to help after America had endorsed the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that brought to power the Islamist Muslim Brothers (MB) in shadowy elections? When Egyptians overthrew the MBs who had put an end to all democratic practice in Egypt, the bloggers recalled, the US stood against Egypt and withheld military aid even as Egypt was fighting Islamist militants in Sinai and in Libya. The bloggers said Egypt had its hands too full fighting Islamist terrorism to be able to be active in Kerry’s coalition. Cairo cannot be blamed, they said.
Some 60 per cent of the bloggers confirmed that all Islamists were, ideologically, the same—the MB, Hamas, those in Syria, Libya, and ISIL.
“No one listened”
In Cairo, Kerry sought to recruit the efforts of the prestigious Sunni institution of al-Azhar to speak out against ISIL, “to talk about it in Friday sermons,” according to a US official travelling with Kerry.
Sisi said Egypt had all along battled Islamist terrorism and warned of its danger, but no one listened.
He stressed the importance of an international coalition to combat not only ISIL but also all terrorist groups in the Middle East and Africa, and warned of the consequences of foreign fighters and their role in fuelling the conflict in the Middle East and, potentially, everywhere in the world. Egypt’s president said the sources of funding of terrorism must dry up.
Egypt finally decided to support the coalition logistically and on the intelligence level, but would send no troops.
Major General Mustafa Kamel, former leader of the special forces of the Egyptian army, is of the opinion that the US has only moved to strike ISIL when westerners were beheaded. He insists that the US was pivotal in the creation of ISIL in the first place in order to help fulfill the division of Iraq, but now that the Jihadi group has turned against America it represents a peril that must be rid of. “A major target of the fight against ISIL, however,” Kamel says, “is to strike Syria. This has always been a US aim, but has not been achieved so far.” He is not far from the truth; US officials have already said that much.
Kamel applauded the Egyptian decision to stay out of combat, saying that Egypt has dozens of ‘ISILs’ that have to be fought within her borders.
All fingers point at the US
Former Military Prosecutor Shawqy al-Hifnawi blames the Arabs for not doing away ISIL themselves, and leaving that task to the US. “Whatever happened to the Arab common defence treaty?” he asks. “The Arabs don’t learn the lessons of history,” Hifnawi bitterly says. “Not once did foreign intervention in the region work in their favour.”
For his part, Iraqi analyst Ahmed al-Abyad sees the US plan as a means to pull Iran, a Shia State, into a sectarian regional war that would lead to ‘self-liquidation’ of Muslim States and groups: Iraq, Syria, and Hizbullah in Lebanon.
Western analysts appear to be in agreement with the view that ISIL was created, nurtured, and supported by America; and is now being targeted to fulfill American interests. Both political analysts Gordon Duff and Kevin Barret who is a member of the team conducting investigations on 9/11 agree to this opinion. Why? Because Jihadi organisations like ISIL would be perfect tools to achieve the division of the Middle East into small, feeble States that would never be able to stand up to Israel.
“Remember the new Middle East Project and the ‘creative chaos’ propagated by the US?” Ahmed Ban, expert on Islamic groups says. “This is materialising right now before our eyes. ISIL looks as though it has catalysed the division of Syria and Iraq and is threatening others. It was supported by the US to do just that. Now that its mission has been accomplished and it has become a risk, the US has decided to battle it.”
Researcher and analyst Adel al-Dawi, however, begs to differ on one specific point: “ISIL is not solely an American creation,” he says. “It was supported by Saudi, Qatari, and Emirati money to fight those who they saw as enemies. But ISIL turned against their masters, and all of them are now in agreement that it should go or be made to tow the line. Hence the needed coalition and the upcoming ‘war’.” Dawi reminds that plans to divide the Middle East go a long way back—back to the creative chaos concept and the New Middle East, the US collaboration with the MB in Egypt, and the rise of Islamist power in the Arab World. But all this, he says, is contemporary history. Before that there was the establishment of Israel in 1948, the Sykes Picot drawing of the borders of the Middle East after WWI, and the Balfour Declaration in 1917.
As any close observer of Middle East politics can tell you, Dawi says, the most effective way to achieve division is through political Islamist ideology. Hence the nurturing of these groups by western powers and other Islamic countries seeking to achieve certain interests. And hence the thriving of ISIL and the so many others like it.
“Egypt escaped that fate when she woke up to the danger of the MB and threw them over in July 2013. Otherwise,” according to Dawi, “Egyptians would be suffering the fate of the Syrians and Iraqis. For that we have to be truly grateful. What a narrow escape!”
17 September 2014