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Who the Winners Are from America’s Destruction of Iraq and War Against Iran

Eric Zuesse

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Americans are unfortunately severely reluctant to disbelieve the lies that normally spew forth from the U.S. Government about foreign countries and especially about foreign countries that it invades or wants to invade. Consider, for examples, the lies that were told against Iraq when Saddam Hussein ruled it, or about Libya when Muammar Gaddafi ruled it, or about Iran right now. But Americans widely believe their Government’s lies, nonetheless.

On Friday, January 3rd, the Republican Fox ‘News’ channel headlined “Rose McGowan, John Cusack bash killing of Iran’s Soleimani, slam Trump”, and reported the two actors’ opposition to the Republican U.S. President Trump’s violation of Iraqi sovereignty that day, and to his assassination at the Bagdad airport of Iran’s #2 leader, General Qasem Soleman, as well as Trump’s murders there of some Iraqis, and of some other Iranians.

To judge from the “Best” (most-liked) reader-comments at that ‘news’-report, Trump will have at least that Republican audience behind him regarding this action by him, though what he did there could spark World War III, and though the beneficiaries of his Republican predecessor George W. Bush’s 20 March 2003 invasion of Iraq haven’t been ordinary people such as those thousands of Republican commenters are, but instead have been, and are, billionaires from around the world who invested in the privatization of Iraq’s oil, which resulted from that invasion. For a far-right audience such as that — people who cannot distinguish between nationalism and patriotism, and who know only nationalism — the most-liked comment was “Rose [McGowan], you do realize that in Iran, if you had worn that dress made of nothing but chains, you would have been stoned to death? Congratulations on being the new Jane Fonda.” That person, “JanWub1,” didn’t think, at all, about the U.S. Government’s lies that had persuaded the American public to boost their approval of George W. Bush from 57% immediately before the invasion to 71% immediately after his lie-based international war-crime in invading Iraq, and that person and everyone who clicked “Like” on it had obviously learned nothing from that historical example, nor did the individual commenter even so much as just mention the possibility of Trump’s having sparked WW III on that occasion, but instead “JanWub1” personalized the issue to that commenter’s contempt and hatred of an actress who had opposed that 2003 international war-crime against Iraq by the USA, and transferred that hatred against her onto the present two thespians, who oppose this President’s illegal invasion and murders.

So: how do we know who actually benefitted from that international war-crime — the invasion and military occupation of Iraq?

Back on 15 April 2013, a rare entirely honest CNN news-report about Iraq was published online, from the independent journalist Antonia Juhasz, who headlined “Why the war in Iraq was fought for Big Oil”. She wrote that:

In 2000, Big Oil, including Exxon, Chevron, BP and Shell, spent more money to get fellow oilmen Bush and Cheney into office than they had spent on any previous election. Just over a week into Bush’s first term, their efforts paid off when the National Energy Policy Development Group, chaired by Cheney, was formed, bringing the administration and the oil companies together to plot our collective energy future. In March, the task force reviewed lists and maps outlining Iraq’s entire oil productive capacity.

Planning for a military invasion was soon under way. Bush’s first Treasury secretary, Paul O’Neill, said in 2004, “Already by February (2001), the talk was mostly about logistics. Not the why (to invade Iraq), but the how and how quickly.”

In its final report in May 2001 (PDF), the task force argued that Middle Eastern countries should be urged “to open up areas of their energy sectors to foreign investment.” This is precisely what has been achieved in Iraq. …

Juhasz made clear that all of the bombs and the corpses were done for investors in large international oil companies — not only for U.S. companies, but for the benefit of mega-oil investors from all countries. Apparently, George W. Bush was a libertarian, who believed in the gospel of economic competition as being what the world needs more of — and not just more of American oil. She noted:

The new contracts lack the security a new legal structure would grant, and Iraqi lawmakers have argued that they run contrary to existing law, which requires government control, operation and ownership of Iraq’s oil sector.

But the contracts do achieve the key goal of the Cheney energy task force: all but privatizing the Iraqi oil sector and opening it to private foreign companies.

They also provide exceptionally long contract terms and high ownership stakes and eliminate requirements that Iraq’s oil stay in Iraq, that companies invest earnings in the local economy, or hire a majority of local workers.

Iraq’s oil production has increased by more than 40% in the past five years to 3 million barrels of oil a day (still below the 1979 high of 3.5 million set by Iraq’s state-owned companies), but a full 80% of this is being exported out of the country. …

The oil and gas sectors today account directly for less than 2% of total employment, as foreign companies rely instead on imported labor.

In just the last few weeks, more than 1,000 people have protested at ExxonMobil and Russia Lukoil’s super-giant West Qurna oil field, demanding jobs and payment for private land that has been lost or damaged by oil operations. The Iraqi military was called in to respond.

The Iraqi government serve as gendarmes for foreign oil companies, and for foreign oil workers. The profits, and the jobs, go abroad. The destruction of Iraq was done for those oil companies — it was done for the investors who own them.

Saddam Hussein was killed for refusing to cooperate with this type of plan for his country.

On 1 January 2020, 24 international oil giants were extracting and selling Iraq’s oil, and only ExxonMobil was American-based. Five years earlier, back on 20 March 2015, 28 were, and 6 of them were American: Chevron, ExxonMobil, Heritage, Hunt, Marathon, and Occidental. Perhaps Iraq’s Government, during the past five years, has been increasingly trying to free itself from the grip of the U.S. regime, and maybe that’s the reason why five of the six U.S. firms that were in Iraq in 2015 have left.

Also on January 1st of 2020, Abbas Kadhim, of the nonprofit NATO public relations arm the Atlantic Council, headlined “New low in US-Iraq relations: What’s next for 2020”, and he opened by saying that, “In early 2019, I predicted that US forces would remain in Iraq this past year despite calls in parliament to pass a law mandating their withdrawal. My prediction was right. My prediction for 2020 is that no US forces will remain in Iraq by the end of the year. As someone who firmly believes in the importance of robust US-Iraq ties and works hard to help both sides improve and strengthen the relationship, I am saddened at this recent deterioration and am concerned about the future.”

Donald Trump had tweeted just the day before, on December 31st, “Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible. In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!”

Later on, that day, he tweeted, “Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities. They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat.”

Whether or not Iran had had anything to do with the attacks which had precipitated Trump’s “Threat” against Iran isn’t known, any more than it was known, when we invaded Iraq on 20 March 2003, whether or not there were any WMDs in Iraq after the U.N. had destroyed all of them in 1998. Everything that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice, etc., had said about that were lies, which the U.S. ‘news’-media refused to expose as being  lies from the Government. Donald Trump is just as much a liar as they were, and as Barack Obama was; so, when Trump followed through on his “Threat” against Iran, inside Iraq, on January 3rd, one can’t reasonably assume that it would be any more justifiable than our invasion of Iraq was, or than our conquest of Ukraine by means of a bloody coup in 2014 was, or than our participation in the destruction of Libya in 2011 was, or than our destruction of Syria is, or than our assistance to the Sauds’ destruction of Yemen is, or than our destruction of Bolivia for its lithium is.

All of that has been simply fascism, American-style. America’s Republicans apparently like it, but perhaps America’s Democrats won’t like it in this instance (since its from a Republican), and maybe even the independents won’t. (However, the reader-comments at Zero Hedge, a non-mainstream, independent libertarian news-site, are unconcerned with the sheer psychopathy and enormous danger of Trump’s murders in Iraq on January 3rd, and are concerned almost only with whether or not what he did will be of benefit to Americans; so, perhaps independents will turn out to be largely favorable toward what Trump did here. Also: viewer-comments at a January 3rd youtube “Pakistan: Soleimani killing sparks outrage among Shia community” were rabidly hostile against the demonstrators, like a typical comment there, “feel American power, infidels,” is. This is today’s supremacist America. It’s not just the Republican Trump’s “Make America Great Again”; it is also the Democrat Obama’s “The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation.” Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, etc. — all other nations than the U.S. — are “dispensable,” according to Americans in both Parties. Hello, Hitler, here?) 

Trump has started off the U.S. Presidential s‘election’ year of 2020 with a bang, and he’s well-supported by America’s Republican billionaires, but it’s still doubtful whether he will get anything like the 14% boost in approval-rating that Bush did by raping Iraq for global oil-investors, on 20 March 2003. Time will quickly tell. However, already on January 3rd, the leader of Democrats in the U.S. Senate, Charles Schumer, said on the Senate floor, that “No one should shed a tear over his [Soleimani’s] death.” (Schumer objected only that he had not received “any advance notification or consultation” about the assassination and murders.) Some of the Democratic Presidential candidates have refused to condemn Trump’s action. Everyone will be looking at the polling-numbers. And those will reflect the result of what America’s billionaires’ (or “the mainstream”) ‘news’-media present about this matter, to their respective publics. It is conceivable that Trump could achieve bipartisan support for entirely needlessly starting WW III. This could be the way that today’s Americans are.

Later in the day of January 3rd, Reuters headlined a news-report that, if true, is historically significant about all of this matter, “Inside the plot by Iran’s Soleimani to attack U.S. forces in Iraq”. Written by “Reuters staff,” it opened:

In mid-October, Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani met with his Iraqi Shi’ite militia allies at a villa on the banks of the Tigris River, looking across at the U.S. embassy complex in Baghdad.

The Revolutionary Guards commander instructed his top ally in Iraq, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and other powerful militia leaders to step up attacks on U.S. targets in the country using sophisticated new weapons provided by Iran, two militia commanders and two security sources briefed on the gathering told Reuters.

The strategy session, which has not been previously reported, came as mass protests against Iran’s growing influence in Iraq were gaining momentum, putting the Islamic Republic in an unwelcome spotlight. Soleimani’s plans to attack U.S. forces aimed to provoke a military response that would redirect that rising anger toward the United States, according to the sources briefed on the gathering, Iraqi Shi’ite politicians and government officials close to Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.

Soleimani’s efforts ended up provoking the U.S. attack on Friday that killed him and Muhandis, marking a major escalation of tensions between the United States and Iran. …

Obviously, if  that report is true, then Trump had cause to do on January 3rd what he did. Even his having not given anyone in Congress advance-notice about it would have been justifiable as this action’s being an emergency opportunity and in accord with his Commander-in-Chief powers to do in order to protect the Embassy. It wouldn’t justify the psychopathically pro-U.S.-regime reader-comments earlier that day on January 3rd about what Trump had done, because all of recent American history is full of lies by the U.S. Government in order to ‘justify’ its invasions against countries that neither threatened nor perpetrated invasion of the United States. However, if that Reuters report is true, then what Trump had done on January 3rd was done as an authentic U.S. national-security matter, in response to what Soleimani and his colleagues were doing. This isn’t necessarily to say that what Soleimani and his colleagues were doing there would have been unjustified. The United States, ever since its 1953 coup against Iran, has been an oppressive foreign power — Iran’s enemy — and the U.S., since at least its 2003 invasion against Iraq, is also Iraq’s enemy. Neither Iran nor Iraq ever endangered the national security of the United States. All of the aggressions have instead been by the United States. However, if  this Reuters report is true, then the appropriate response by the Governments of U.S., Iraq, and Iran, would be as follows:

Trump would announce that he is herewith cancelling sanctions against Iran and restoring U.S. participation in the Iran nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which in 2015 was signed by China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States, Germany, and then the entire European Union. Iran would then announce that it is willing to discuss with all of the signatories to that agreement, if a majority of them wish to do so, international negotiations regarding possible changes (amendments) to be made to that agreement. The United States would then offer, separately, and on a strictly bi-lateral U.S.-Iran basis, to negotiate with Iran a settlement to all outstanding issues between the two nations, so that they may proceed forward with normal diplomatic relations, on a peaceful instead of mutually hostile, foundation.

Trump also would announce that he is seeking negotiations with Iraq about a total withdrawal from Iraq and closure of the U.S. Embassy there, to be replaced by a far smaller U.S. Embassy.

Trump would initiate this as a package-deal confidentially offered by him to Khamenei — all steps of it — in advance of any carrying-out of the steps, and initiated by him soon enough to ward off any retaliatory action by Iran, so as to avoid further escalation of the hostilities, which otherwise would likely escalate to a widespread and possibly global war. In other words, this direct communication between the two should already have been sought by Trump. (If the Reuters article is true, this should have been planned by him at the very moment he started seeking an opportunity to assassinate Soleimani.)

I do not expect Trump to do any of that, not even the first step, and not even the offer to Khamenei; and Iran is in no position to make the first step, in any case (since the U.S. had started the mutual hostilities between the two nations in 1953). However (assuming the gtruthfulness of the Reuters article), if Trump does, at least make the offer and then do the first step (ending sanctions), then I think that he will easily win re-election, regardless of whom the Democratic nominee will be. If he can re-establish friendly relations with Iran, then that will be a diplomatic achievement of historic proportions, the best and most important in decades. No one would then be able to deny it. He would, in fact, then deserve to win the Nobel Peace Prize (which Obama never deserved to win, though he did win it). But I don’t expect any of that to happen, because it would be exactly contrary to the way that any recent U.S. President has behaved, and because many in power in the United States would be furious against him if he did do it.

Furthermore, the Reuters report might be a lie, like so many other U.S.-and-allied ‘news’-reports are.

In any case, however: The answer to the headline-question “Who the Winners Are from America’s Destruction of Iraq and War Against Iran” is: the owners of U.S.-and-allied international oil and gas corporations. They were served when the U.S. regime in 1953 overthrew Iran’s democratically elected progressive Government and installed the brutal Shah to end Iran’s democracy and to control the country, and when he then privatized the National Iranian Oil company and cut American-and-allied aristocrats in on the profits from sales of Iranian oil. The founding members of that privatization in 1954 were British Petroleum (40%), Royal Dutch Shell 14% (Shell now), French Compagnie Française des Pétroles (CFP) 6% (Total now), Gulf Oil 8% (Now Chevron), and the four American partners of Aramco 32% (8% each). And they were served, yet again, when George W. Bush did the same to Iraq by means of an outright invasion (instead of like Eisenhower’s 1953 method, coup) in 2003.

America’s international oil (and other international extractions) corporations — and not only America’s ‘defense’ contractors — need to be nationalized, so that these ceaseless “regime-change wars” by the U.S. regime will be able to cease. Otherwise, the world will self-destruct by war, if not subsequently by global burnout (which is likely only over a much longer time-frame).

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010

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The rapport between Iran and Turkey over Syria: Liaisons or tussle?

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The two powers of Iran and Turkey constitute a crucial feature on the map of the Middle East. The influence of the dyadic interactions exceeds sometimes the meanings of any bilateral ties, transcending the political borders to impact the geographical proximity of surrounding states. However, more evident their influences upon the Arab Sphere were at the aftermath of what so-called the Arab Spring, particularly in Syria that became the most prominent playground for their regional competition became.

Syrian tragic conflict has, indeed, a multi-scalar interaction with different players, each of which is driven by complex and contradictory motivations. In the same vein, Turkey and Iran have several aims for intervening into Syria militarily. Nonetheless, the explicit objective for Turkey is to create a ‘buffer zone’; thus, it might drive out the Kurdish presence along its border with Syria and address the Syrian refugee issue there. On the other side, the strategic partner for Syria, Iran, is seeking to bolster Assad’s government, as it used to work as a safety valve for the regime in Damascus.

In order to prop up Bashar al Assad’s regime, Tehran developed close ties with Russia that changed the equation in Syria. But, Moscow founded the rapports with the strategical foes of Tehran; Saudi Arabia and Israel. Likewise, the “marriage of convenience” brought Turkey with Russia, which, subsequently, facilitates carving up northern Syria between them by Sochi agreement, in October 2019.

Although it worked on the opposite front to Turkey’s, nevertheless, Iran attempts always to maintain warm and unruffled relationships with it. Tehran has overtly been competing, just as it covertly cooperating with Ankara in Syria for managing the dynamic variables of the surrounding area. Subsequently, the unsatisfactory with Turkey’s presence in the torn-war Syria doesn’t mean by any means a full conflictual; neither means otherwise, a comprehensive cooperation and peace. After all, seems, Iran needs Turkey shortly both in Syria and beyond.

Upon the US withdrawal from the Kurdish-held zone of northern Syria the dispute between the two-peer regional powers, Iran and Turkey, has surfaced off considerably off. Tehran has continuously been preserving a secret connection with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units which backed by the US. It was gaining a margin of leverage by occasionally working as a covert conduit bridging the differences between the Kurdish movement and the al-Assad’s regime.

Nonetheless, Iran’s substantial concern was a repercussion which might spill over its Kurdish regions if Turkey fulfils its intent to fill the expected power vacuum in the north of Syria.Thus, it was not surprising, once Turkey uncovered its intention by interfering the north-eastern Syria militarily, Iran announced the military exercises under the slogan “one goal … one bullet” in the area barely 20 miles from the Turkish border. Its maneuver, however, implied two-edges; on the one hand, it was against any potential Kurdish movement in its territory.

On the other hand, it gesticulated an external dimensional message, mainly to Turkey. In parallel to this combatant stand, Iran attempted to show, at least rhetorically, its alignment with and understanding of, Turkey’s anxieties. As the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stated in an amicable expression: “We are calling on our friendly and brotherly neighbor Turkey to act with more patience and restraint and to revise its decision and chosen path” of military invasion. Further, Tehran urged Ankara alternatively to work inline with the Adana agreement.

The Adana agreement of 1998 was signed between Turkey and Syria to address the border differences. The broker of the deal, along with the other Arab countries, was Iran, and the primary aim of the agreement was at expelling the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) from Syria.

A complex of causes makes Iran avoid Turkey’s dissatisfaction. The latter was always supportive of the Iranian regime in challenging times. Turkey, whether during the war between Iran and Iraq in the 1980s or international sanctions that intensified on Tehran in 2012, opened its borders with Iran to allow the trade that reached Europe. Similarly and lately, it helped Tehran to circumvent the US suffocating sanctions to a large extent.

As well, Turkey attempted to exploit the tensions between Tehran and Riyadh after the attacks on Aramco’s oil facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia last September, by denying Tehran’s involvement in the attacks. In an interview with Fox News, Turkish President RecepTayyip Erdogan said: “I don’t think it would be the right thing to blame Iran.”A few days later, when the architect of Iranian expansion in the Middle East the Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani was assassinated, Erdogan offered condolences to him, though didn’t use ‘martyr’ to describe him.

Notwithstanding, the chapter of persuasive confrontation between Iran and Turkey manifested when the Syrian airstrike hit the Turkish-backed forces in Idlib province on 27 January 2020. That resulted in killing 33 Turkish combatants. While Russia accused the Turkish soldiers of being “operating alongside jihadist fighters” when they had been struck, conversely and simultaneously, Iran emphasized on deescalating and restraining the tension in Idlib. It, further, called for all parties resort to decisions that had been taken by the presidents of Astana Process.

Although the Iranian President and his Turkish counterpart conducted a discussion on the phone regarding the tension over Idlib province, Turkey carried on the retaliation by launching a dozen air and missiles attack against the Syrian troops. The offence begot causalities of the Syrian military as well as several deaths of Iranian-backed forces in the northwest of Syria. As per the official Iranian media reported eight fighters of Hezbollah, and at least 21 militants affiliated with Fatemiyoun and Zaibayoun brigades were among the deaths.

Concurrently, Ankara opened the borders for the influx of the Syrian refugees to head for Europe. By so doing, it attempted to force its allies of the NATO states to pressurize Russia in order to alter its policy in Syria. Again and as always, Russian condemned the Turkish raids, but, its pragmatic rapprochements with Turkey outweigh the differences. Therefore, it is no wondering to see Russian assistance to Damascus minimized notably. Further, a deal will be reached to reduce the tension in Idlib when the Turkish President met his Russian counterpart in Moscow on March 2020.

On the other side, Iran and its affiliates warned Turkey by referring that its troops were within their “fire range”. Tehran, however, tried to shun from escalating the situation, and instead, it was accusing the US of getting Ankara into Syrian trap. Meanwhile, it was calling Ankara for holding a new summit for Iran, Russia, and Turkey within the Astana summit framework.

By devoting immense political and financial potentialities to safeguard the Ba’ath regime, Iran was not ready to cede its clout there. So convinced too, it prefers a political triumph over martial achievements. Perhaps, for that reason, it worked to boost connections with the major players in Syria, including Turkey. However, Iran shares Turkey several issues not merely in Syrian circle, but expand to the regional level sometimes. In addition to their shared economic and commercial benefits, they both have a fear of Kurdish ambitions to establish of own state, as they both stood firmly with the government of Baghdad against the Kurdish referendum in the north of Iraq in 2017. Second: Although, Turkey’s differences with Washington are mostly temporary; it meets with Iran in several issues that troubled their relations with the US.And thirdly: They were mutually pro-Qatar stand against Saudi and its allies. Qatar’s flights switched to the “Iranian airspace and Turkey upped the ante on its military presence in the country as a sign of strength and commitment”.

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Teething Troubles for Pakistan in Mediating the Saudi-Iran Tension

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Imran Khan’s visit to America, China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia carries much importance concerning the unity of the Muslim community and solution of their long-standing differences and enmities particularly Saudi-Iran Tension. Moreover, these visits are not only very significant for the relations of Tehran and Jeddah but also for Pakistan, being one of the neighbors of Iran. As for as the visit of PM Imran Khan to China is concerned, Beijing, being a rising power and an economic giant, could play a very effective and decisive role in normalizing the relations between Iran and Saudi along with Pakistan because of its economic interests. Islamabad has been experiencing many changes in the national, regional and global dynamics. In this regard, Pakistan wants to balance its side by engaging with China and tries to mediate between Iran and Saudi to end the long-standing conflict between both the Muslim nations.

However, it is not easy to lessen the tensions between both the rival nations as perceived by a large portion of societies because America never allows this to happen smoothly while it will try vigorously to counter this activity because of its long-standing problems with Iran. Particularly looking over the policies and actions of the United States against Iran such as when the whole world is suffering from a fatal disease known as COVID-19/Corona Virus, America imposed more sanctions on Iran which is against humanity. Besides, the killing of Iran’s top bras general QasimSulemani in an attack by the US and the scrapping nuclear deal with Iran are condemnable acts. There can be many reasons for opposition from the United States for instance, it never wants China to engage with various nations throughout the globe mainly Iran. Because it creates the environment of friendship and engagement for China with other nations which pose threat and fear for the dominant position of Washington.

Moreover, America considers Iran as one of the staunch opposite nations of the world therefore the conflict between the US and Iran has been continued for very long. In this regard, America has imposed numerous sanctions upon Iran which creates more hardships for Tehran to smoothly run its affairs. While Iran considers it the violation of international and humanitarian laws that should not be bearable for any well-educated, sophisticated and sincere nation of the world. According to Iran, the US has been practicing inhuman and illegal policies throughout the world, especially the Muslim World. In this regard, Iran in the UN General Assembly strongly condemned the policies and actions by Washington in which Iran is on top of the list. On the other side, Saudi Arabia is one of the closest and reliable allies of America because of its economic interests.

Rationally looking over the US-Saudi bond, Washington keeps much influence concerning the economic, political and financial policies of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In this regard, attacks on the oil fields of Saudi Arabia created insecurity for it therefore Saudi King called MBS requested more American forces to protect the security of his country. There are multiple perspectives regarding the control, influence and creating the warlike environment in the oil-rich Muslim nations of the Middle East. For instance, it is considered by a huge portion of the population within the Muslim world that these all issues and conflicts which have generated the deaths, destruction, fear, and insecurity all over the region are created by America to gain its interests mainly economic benefits.

This is the reason for which America intervenes within these countries rich in natural resources in the pretext of saving humanity and the US being a savior of human rights violations all over the world. While within the Western nations it is considered that terrorism and other multiple kinds of evils are generating from this region because of the undemocratic structure of these states. In this regard, the US should intervene to eliminate all evils from the region for protecting the peace and progress of the world. Therefore, Pakistan can play a very significant role through normalizing Saudi-Iran relations though it is very difficult because of sectarian division between both nations. Recent condemnation and opposition by PM Imran Khan about the new sanctions on Iran by the US is a good and positive sign. Besides, it is also considered by a huge population within the Muslim world that they are under the serious threat of Western Powers beneath different agendas so Pakistan being the only nuclear power state within the Muslim countries should seriously take the issue towards a peaceful solution. Though it is also in the interest of Islamabad because in case the spiraling tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran are not solved and turn into the escalation of the conflict, Pakistan because of Iran’s neighbor will face direct impact which could be sectarian violence and increasing oil prices.

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Ten years on Syria is still deep in wars

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Having barely risen from the menacing impact of Bashar al Assad’s poor economic policies during the drought from 2007 to 2010, that brought more poverty, unemployment and social distress, a spiral of conflict, in 201, took Syria from one warring episode to another. Ten years on, with most of the country in the rubble, there was little respite even in the news in 2018 that the US would reduce its footprints in Syria.

The nature of the beast is now more local than foreign.

It began when exercising their democratic rights, the disgruntled Syrians took to the street, in 2011, to demand economic and political reforms. They also wanted freedom of expression, in the political sphere. This movement to democracy was one of the many strains Syria had attracted from the Arab-spring that had erupted in the neighboring countries. 

Not used to disagreements, the Syrian government, headed by the Assads for the last four decades then, responded angrily. On March 18, 2011, the Syrian Army opened fire on the demonstrator killing four people with many more arrested.  Shocked by the treatment of the government, more people came out on streets in different parts of the country. Instead of repositioning its responses, the administration used more force to control the damage. In retaliation, a group of defected soldiers and army officers formed the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to protect the protesting civilians.  The group would in no time become powerful on the back of other anti-government forces. No sooner Syria descended into a full-blown civil war. 

A war that began between Syrians and their government escalated into varying wars each with its own protagonist and agenda. Supported by its Sunni allies in the Middle East, the US demanded regime change.  Taking a leaf from Iraq where the end of Saddam Hussain’s government had brought more misery than relief, Iran and Russia defied the US demand and thwarted it militarily. With this outside involvement, the war is no longer Syrian. It has become regional and even international, with an overtone of sectarian crisis. 

Today, Syria is battling three wars: Coalition efforts to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS); violence between the Syrian government and opposition forces, and military operations against Syrian Kurds by Turkish forces.   

The US-led regime-change wars have wrought havoc with the Middle East.  Each regime change from Iraq to Libya to Syria was masked as a rescue operation to liberate people from the humanitarian crises unleashed by the bloodthirsty dictators. Not that it was the first of its kind of crises the US had perpetrated. A long list of countries stands witness to the interventionist policies of the US that would always bring more suffering then relief.

With the end of the cold war and democracy becoming the only ideology that promised salvation from all kinds of bounds and fetters, scholars started seeing the world come of its age. What other bigger event could unfold—Europe was unified and its eastern part had come out of the Russian shadow, the Central Asian states were free to form the Bolshevik yoke, colonialism had almost tapered off, proliferation of nuclear weapon had been controlled through various treaties, and with the rise of Asia the world was heading towards a more equitable survival.  

This, however, proved a ‘purpose-built façade’ with little tenacity to hold itself out for too long. The slide was rather quick. Just as the communist propelled the social system was being defeated, a new disintegrative system—terrorism—was pushed through the US military establishment to justify interventions for regime change.

This enemy on the gate was there for a long haul.  It would no more be a straightforward rivalry. An enemy in one war theatre would be a friend in another. If in Afghanistan Al Qaeda was a threat to homeland security, it joined hands with the same militant organization in Syria.  Lent to multiplication and manipulation the Jihadi proxies would later consolidate into a broader percept—the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).  Contrary to its overriding mission of reincarnating Caliphate, the ISIS instead obliterated Iraq and Syria—the two iconic cultural sites of Islamic heritage.  Today the ISIS has its fangs spread to every country, but not without casting a negative effect on the west, though. Bred on the anti-Muslim hysteria a significant number of voters in Europe have grown against the Muslim migrants. In reaction, they voted to power the ultranationalist parties to cleanse Europe of the outsiders. Trump and Brexit owe their success to the Islamophobia industry that grew dramatically after the 9/11 attack.

The Syrian war unfolded some of the worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century. The United Nations had put the Syrian death toll to 400,000 in 2016. As the war becomes more complex, diffused and with no sign of abatement, international monitoring groups, even the UN have stopped counting causalities. Saying: “it is virtually impossible to verify how many died.”

According to the United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees, over 5.6 million Syrian have registered as refugees. The majority of these refugees moved into neighboring countries. Not only did these migrating people brought an economic burden to the host countries, but they also opened a new ethnic fault- lines concerning Kurds. Soon doors were being closed down on the migrating refugees, with European countries appearing cruelest. It was not until the pictures of drowning children in the Mediterranean Sea, and refugees living in dilapidated conditions in makeshift camps on borders hit the social media, picking on the European conscience, did the European leadership start showing its moral side.  

Everything has changed in Syria in these ten years, except its political structure.  Ten years is a long period for the civil war of such ferocity triggering a huge transformation. The World Bank has assessed the damage to be at $200bn, while according to the United Nation Economic and Social Commission for West Asia, in order to restore Syria to its 2010 condition, almost $ 400 bn would be needed.

The question is: has the Syrian government started wrapping its head around the reconstructing options, that includes finding investors to foot the bills, or will Syria become another Afghanistan for proxy war among regional and global powers.

From our partner Tehran Times

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