The US Trident in Iraq
Nikolai BOBKIN | 17.07.2014 | OPINION

The US Trident in Iraq

Washington is currently trying to work out what to do with Iraq. Condoleezza Rice once promised to transform the US-occupied Arab country into a «torch of democracy». And now Joe Biden is once again promising the Iraqi people democracy, but no longer for all and no longer throughout the whole country, just in parts. Sunnis from Isis are promising their own kind of democracy, and they have already shown exactly how it will be: either join them or die. For Iraqi Shiites, meanwhile, it would be more democratic to overthrow their leader and select a new American protege. For the Kurds, it would be abandoning federalism and adherence to the constitution of a unified state. Thus, the US policy regarding Iraq has the feeling of a trident... 

If, after the withdrawal of troops in 2011, the White House believed Baghdad would remain a pawn in America’s game in the Middle East for a long time, then it should be said that the Americans miscalculated. They have done everything to keep the Iraqi regime as their own puppet, and Nouri al-Maliki, even in view of his terrorist past, was the ideal candidate for the job. But America’s stooge transformed himself into an independent political figure rather quickly. Today, Baghdad buys arms from Russia, supports Bashar al-Assad, and is establishing a comprehensive partnership with Iran. This is all contrary to the desires of Washington, which is why Obama has decided to replace al-Maliki.

The White House has already stipulated that the undesirable prime minister resign his post within the next two weeks and Iraqi political parties be allowed to form a new government. The Americans are intending to appoint a new prime minister shortly, when the next session of the US National Security Council on the issue of al-Maliki’s future and his replacement takes place.

The Iraqi parliament is waiting for America’s decision. The parliamentary session that took place on 13 July lasted just half an hour, and legislators were unable to reach an agreement on the nomination of candidates for the positions of parliamentary speaker, prime minister and president. You will recall that a Shiite coalition headed by al-Maliki won the parliamentary elections that took place in Iraq on 30 April, which means that the legitimacy of his tenure as head of government is beyond doubt. Now, however, the Iraqi Kurd and Sunni opponents of al-Maliki are refusing to accept the results of the spring elections and have absolutely no desire to take part in the restructuring of the central government in Iraq.

The President of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, stated that the process of forming a new government must be based on new geopolitical realities, referring to the fact that Iraq has already divided de facto into three parts. On 29 June, the group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) announced the formation of an «Islamic caliphate» in the territories it controls in Iraq and Syria. Militant leader Abdullah Ibrahim al-Samarrai, also known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was named as its caliph, and the group itself changed its name to the Islamic State. The self-proclaimed caliphate currently stretches from Aleppo in northern Syria to Diyala Province in eastern Iraq. The terrorist organisation, formed to fight against the legitimate regime in Syria, is now seeking to carve out its own state formation from the territories of Syria and Iraq. The organisation has already marked out its territory, started issuing its own documents, including passports for the caliphate, and has engaged in external economic activity – the supply of Iraqi and Syrian oil to the international market at a heavily-reduced price.

The seizure of the Iraqi city of Mosul allowed the leaders of the caliphate to take control of the Al-Omar oilfield on Syria’s border with Iraq. Militants have also taken control of the majority of gas and oil fields in the province of Deir ez-Zor. Much of the Iraq-Turkey pipeline has also fallen under the control of the Islamic State. Terrorists are offering to sell a barrel of Iraqi oil for 25 dollars, which is at least four times lower than world oil prices. Naturally, there are those who are willing to buy this oil. It is being repurchased by middlemen in northern Iraq, on the border with the Kurdish autonomy. After it has been resold, the profit from such a deal can be colossal. The huge difference in price does not trouble the caliphate’s traders, however. They need ready cash, and they are making a daily profit of around one million dollars.

Iraqi Kurds have also started an oil war against Baghdad. Several days ago, Kurdish militia forces (peshmerga) occupied the regions of Bai Hassan and Makhmur, «to secure the oilfields after learning of orders by officials in the federal Ministry of Oil in Baghdad to sabotage the recent mutually-agreed pipeline infrastructure linking the Avana dome with the Khurmala field,» said a statement by Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Ministry of Natural Resources. The Iraqi oil ministry warned the Kurds of serious consequences over the seizure of the oilfields. «The oil ministry strongly warns the Kurdistan Region of the seriousness of this irresponsible behaviour,» it said, calling it «an encroachment on the Constitution and the national wealth.» In response, the KRG is intending to defend itself both from terrorists and from Baghdad. 

In the current situation, there is no need to try and explain Washington’s ostensible passivity as the incompetence, shortsightedness or inconsistency of US diplomacy towards Baghdad. The White House is not just satisfied with the process of dismembering Iraq that is actively underway, but is also encouraging it by trying to isolate the problem from the international community and making efforts towards the country’s collapse.

Firstly, many blame America for the formation and arming of Isis. Former US congressional staffer Rodney Martin stated that, «the Isis situation is nothing but a US creation, much like the Taliban was», which was created in Afghanistan in 1994. If we follow the fate of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, then we can see that the head of the Islamic caliphate was arrested by US intelligence agents in 2005 and held in the US-run Camp Bucca prison in northern Iraq until 2010. He was then released by the Americans, immediately became head of Isis and began an armed struggle against the legitimate Syrian government. Transferring his forces to Iraq and starting military actions against Baghdad would have been impossible without the approval of the US authorities.

Secondly, Washington is inciting Iraqi Kurds in every way possible to intensify their disagreements with Baghdad. Last week, Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani met with US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran Brett McGurk. President Barzani declared that Kurds will not give up plans to achieve independence. In response, McGurk asked Barzani to give Baghdad one more chance, and, if it that did not work, then to seek self-determination. On 12 July, US Vice President Joe Biden and the President of Iraqi Kurdistan Massoud Barzani exchanged opinions on the crisis in Iraq during a telephone conversation, and once again it was about the secession of Iraqi Kurdistan from Iraq as a way to overcome the crisis. America is already building future relations between the US and an independent Kurdistan. The process of creating a new state in the Middle East is underway.

Thirdly, the White House is not overlooking the Shiites, either. The US Embassy in Baghdad is engaged in talks with Iraqi Shiite leaders, head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq Ammar al-Hakim, and influential Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, to find a replacement for Nouri al-Maliki for the post of Prime Minister of Iraq. Efforts in this direction that sidestep Tehran are hardly going to give America the result it wants, however. The Press Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran, Marzieh Afkham, has warned that «the vigilant Iraqi people will not allow the Zionist regime and enemies of a unified Iraq... to realise their immature fantasies in the region».

Tags: Al Qaeda  Iraq  Middle East  US 

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