Mike Whitney, counterpunch.org
“It is no longer plausible to argue that ISIS was a result of unintentional screw ups by the US. It is a clear part of a US strategy to break up the Iran-Iraq-Syria-Hezbollah alliance. Now that strategy may prove to be a total failure and end up backfiring, but make no mistake, ISIS IS the strategy.”
– Lysander, Comments line, Moon of Alabama
“US imperialism has been the principal instigator of sectarianism in the region, from its divide-and-conquer strategy in the war and occupation in Iraq, to the fomenting of sectarian civil war to topple Assad in Syria. Its cynical support for Sunni Islamist insurgents in Syria, while backing a Shiite sectarian regime across the border in Iraq to suppress these very same forces, has brought the entire Middle East to what a United Nations panel on Syria warned Tuesday was the “cusp of a regional war.”
– Bill Van Auken, Obama orders nearly 300 US troops to Iraq, World Socialist Web Site
Barack Obama is blackmailing Nouri al-Maliki by withholding military support until the Iraqi Prime Minister agrees to step down. In other words, we are mid-stream in another regime change operation authored by Washington. What’s different about this operation, is the fact that Obama is using a small army of jihadi terrorists –who have swept to within 50 miles of Baghdad–to hold the gun to Mr. al Maliki’s head. Not surprisingly, al Maliki has refused to cooperate which means the increasingly-tense situation could explode into a civil war. Here’s the scoop from the Guardian in an article aptly titled “Iraq’s Maliki: I won’t quit as condition of US strikes against Isis militants”:
“A spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has said he will not stand down as a condition of US air strikes against Sunni militants who have made a lightning advance across the country.
Iraq’s foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, on Wednesday made a public call on al-Arabiya television for the US to launch strikes, but Barack Obama has come under pressure from senior US politicians to persuade Maliki… to step down over what they see as failed leadership in the face of an insurgency…
The White House has not called for Maliki to go but its spokesman Jay Carney said that whether Iraq was led by Maliki or a successor, “we will aggressively attempt to impress upon that leader the absolute necessity of rejecting sectarian governance”. (Iraq’s Maliki: I won’t quit as condition of US strikes against Isis militants, Guardian)
Obviously, the White House can’t tell al Maliki to leave point-blank or it would affect their credibility as proponents of democracy. But the fix is definitely in and the administration’s plan to oust al Maliki is well underway. Check out this clip from the Wall Street Journal:
“A growing number of U.S. lawmakers and Arab allies, particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are pressing the White House to pull its support for Mr. Maliki. Some of them are pushing for change in exchange for providing their help in stabilizing Iraq, say U.S. and Arab diplomats.” (U.S. Signals Iraq’s Maliki Should Go, Wall Street Journal)
Pay special attention to the last sentence: “Some of them are pushing for change in exchange for providing their help in stabilizing Iraq”. That sounds a lot like blackmail to me.
This is the crux of what is going on behind the scenes. Barack Obama and his lieutenants are twisting al Maliki ‘s arm to force him out of office. That’s what the Thursday press conference was all about. Obama identified the group called the Isis as terrorists, acknowledged that they posed a grave danger to the government, and then breezily opined that he would not lift a finger to help. Why? Why is Obama so eager to blow up suspected terrorists in Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan and yet unwilling to do so in Iraq? Could it be that Obama is not really committed to fighting terrorists at all, that the terror-ruse is just a fig leaf for much grander plans, like global domination?
Of course, it is. In any event, it’s plain to see that Obama is not going to help al Maliki if it interferes with Washington’s broader strategic objectives. And, at present, those objectives are to get rid of al Maliki, who is “too tight” with Tehran, and who refused to sign Status Of Forces Agreement in 2011 which would have allowed the US to leave 30,000 troops in Iraq. The rejection of SOFA effectively sealed al Maliki’s fate and made him an enemy of the United States. It was only a matter of time before Washington took steps to remove him from office. Here’s a clip from Obama’s press conference on Thursday that illustrates how these things work:
Obama: “The key to both Syria and Iraq is going to be a combination of what happens inside the country, working with moderate Syrian opposition, working with an Iraqi government that is inclusive, and us laying down a more effective counterterrorism platform that gets all the countries in the region pulling in the same direction. Rather than try to play whack-a-mole wherever these terrorist organizations may pop up, what we have to do is to be able to build effective partnerships.”
What does this mean in language that we can all understand?
It means that “you’re either on the team or you’re off the team”. If you are on the US team, then you will enjoy the benefits of “partnership” which means the US will help to defend you against the terrorist groups which they arm, fund and provide logistical support for. (through their Gulf State allies) If you are “off the team” –as Mr. al Maliki appears to be, then Washington will look the other way while the hordes of vicious miscreants tear the heads off your soldiers, burn your cities to the ground, and reduce your country to ungovernable anarchy. So, there’s a choice to be made. Either you can play along and follow orders and “nobody gets hurt, or go-it-alone and face the consequences.
Capisce? Obama is running a protection racket just like some two-bit Mafia shakedown-artist from the ‘hood. And I am not speaking metaphorically here. This is the way it really works. The president of the United States is threatening a democratically-elected leader, who–by the way–was hand-picked and rubber-stamped by the Bush administration–because he has not turned out to be sufficiently servile in kowtowing to their demands. So, now they’re going to replace him with another corrupt stooge like Chalabi. That’s right, the shifty Ahmed Chalabi has reemerged from his spiderhole and is making a bid to take al Maliki’s place. This is from the New York Times:
“Iraq officials said Thursday that political leaders had started intensive jockeying to replace Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and create a government that would span the country’s deepening sectarian and ethnic divisions, spurred by what they called encouraging meetings with American officials signaling support for a leadership change…
The names floated so far — Adel Abdul Mahdi, Ahmed Chalabi and Bayan Jaber — are from the Shiite blocs, which have the largest share of the total seats in the Parliament.” (With Nod From U.S., Iraqis Seek New Leader, New York Times)
Remember Chalabi? Neocon favorite, Chalabi. The guy who –as Business Insider notes “was a central figure in the U.S.’s decision to remove the Iraqi dictator over a decade ago” and “who helped get the Iraq Liberation Act passed through Congress in 1998, a law that made regime change in Baghdad an official U.S. policy.” “Chalabi claimed that Saddam was an imminent threat to the U.S., and was both holding and developing a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, (which) became the view of the intelligence community and eventually the majority of the U.S. congress. In the first four years of the Bush administration, Chalabi’s INC recieved $39 million from the U.S. government.” (Business Insider)
You can’t make this stuff up.
So, good old Chalabi is on the short-list of candidates to take al Maliki’s place. Great. That just illustrates the level of thinking about these matters in the Obama White House. I don’t know how anyone can objectively follow these developments and not conclude that the neocons are calling the shots. Of course they’re calling the shots. Chalabi’s “their guy”. In fact, the goals the administration is pursuing, aren’t really even in US interests at all.
Bear with me for a minute: Let’s assume that we’re correct in our belief that the administration has set its sites on four main strategic objectives in Iraq:
1–Removing al Maliki
2–Gaining basing rights via a new Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA)
3–Rolling back Iran’s influence in the region
4–Partitioning the country
How does the US benefit from achieving these goals?
The US has plenty of military bases and installations spread around the Middle East. It gains nothing by having another in Iraq. The same goes for removing al Maliki. There’s no telling how that could turn out. Maybe good, maybe bad. It’s a roll of the dice. Could come up snake-eyes, who knows? But, one thing is certain; it will further erode confidence in the US as a serious supporter of democracy. No one is going to believe that fable anymore. (Al Maliki just won the recent election.)
As for “rolling back Iran’s influence in the region”: That doesn’t even make sense. It was the United States that removed the Sunni Baathists from power and deliberately replaced them with members from the Shia community. As we’ve shown in earlier articles, shifting power from Sunnis to Shia was a crucial part of the original occupation strategy, which was transparently loony from the get go. It was as if the British invaded the US and decided to replace career politicians and Washington bureaucrats with inexperienced service sector employees from the barrios of LA. Does that make sense? The results turned out to be a disaster, as anyone with half a brain could have predicted. Because the plan was idiotic. No empire has ever operated like that. Of course, there was going to be a tacit alliance between Baghdad and Tehran. The US strategy made that alliance inevitable! Iraq did not move in Iran’s direction. That’s baloney. Washington pushed Iraq into Iran’s arms. Everyone knows this.
So, now what? So now the Obama team wants a “do over”? Is that it?
There are no do overs in history. The sectarian war the US initiated and promoted with its blistering counterinsurgency strategy–which involved massive ethnic cleansing of Sunnis in Baghdad behind the phony “surge” BS– changed the complexion of the country for good. There’s no going back. What’s done is done. Baghdad is Shia and will remain Shia. And that means there’s going to be some connection with Tehran. So, if the Obama people intend to roll back Iran’s influence, then they probably have something else in mind. And they DO have something else in mind. They want to partition the country consistent with an Israeli plan that was concocted more than three decades ago. The plan was the brainstorm of Oded Yinon who saw Iraq as a serious threat to Israel’s hegemonic aspirations, so he cooked up a plan to remedy the problem. Here’s a blurb from Yinon’s primary work titled, “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties”, which is the roadmap that will be used to divide Iraq:
“Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel’s targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel. An Iraqi-Iranian war will tear Iraq apart and cause its downfall at home even before it is able to organize a struggle on a wide front against us. Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi’ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north. It is possible that the present Iranian-Iraqi confrontation will deepen this polarization.” (A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties, Oded Yinon, monabaker.com)
Repeat: “Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon.”
This is the plan. The United States does not benefit from this plan. The United States does not benefit from a fragmented, Balkanized, broken Iraq. The oil giants are already extracting as much oil as they want. Iraqi oil is, once again, denominated in dollars not euros. Iraq poses no national security threat to the US. US war planners already got what they want. There’s no reason to go back and cause more trouble, to restart the war, to tear the country apart, and to split it into pieces. The only reason to dissolve Iraq, is Israel. Israel does not want a unified Iraq. Israel does not want an Iraq that can stand on its own two feet. Israel wants to make sure that Iraq never remerges as a regional power. And there’s only one way to achieve that goal, that is, to follow Yinon’s prescription of “breaking up Iraq …along ethnic/religious lines …so, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul.”
This is the blueprint the Obama administration is following. The US gains nothing from this plan. It’s all for Israel.
MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).