September 6, 2014

In Iraq, A United Sectarian Death Cult Is Stronger Than A Coalition of Confused Enemies

A resident of Amerli, Iraq.

There has been a lot of talk on twitter about the irony of the U.S. and Iran teaming up and fighting together in a strange coalition to save the besieged city of Amerli, whose inhabitants, Shiite Turkmen, have heroically resisted the ISIS onslaught for months while towns around them submitted without a fight.

The coalition included the Iraqi army, Iranian-backed Shiite Militias, Kurdish Peshmerga, senior Iranian IRGC officials, the United States, and local volunteer fighters inside Amerli itself.

This alliance was unexpected, and it was only formed in an ad-hoc manner to deal with the pressing disaster at Amerli.

Greg Jaffe writes in The Washington Post that we shouldn't bet on this coalition of enemies lasting beyond this particular battlefield. Here is an excerpt from his article, "In Amerli, an unusual alliance defeated Islamic radicals. Don’t count on that lasting":
For weeks, Iraqi Kurdish fighters had joined an unusual alliance to free this dusty highway town besieged by Islamic State fighters. Shiite militias, Iranian trainers and U.S. military pilots had all contributed, finally wresting the city from the Sunni extremists and saving the 15,000 residents from starvation or brutal slayings.

But on Friday, as the Kurdish pesh merga fighters approached the city to greet the residents they helped save, they were treated less like liberators and more like intruders. “Pesh merga forces are not allowed to enter this city!” yelled a Shiite militiaman with Kataib Hezbollah, an Iraqi group. He waved his rifle at them and the pesh merga retreated.
The road to Amerli also offers a glimpse of how the last few months of fighting have destroyed virtually every vestige of the Iraqi state in the north. After being turned away from Amerli, the pesh merga fighters returned to their base, just three miles away, passing through a half-dozen other Shiite militia checkpoints. Some belonged to the Badr Brigades, others to Saraya al-Salam and Asaib Ahl al-Haq. All were vying for influence in the area. Each flew their own militia flag; the Iraqi flag was nowhere to be seen.
The fractured landscape offered one sign after another of how difficult it would be for northern Iraq to return to the multiethnic, religiously mixed society it had once been.
As Shiites and Kurds jostle for territory and prestige in the wake of victories over ISIS, the U.S. and Iran remain at loggerheads across the region, and any resolution over the inflated nuclear crisis seems like a distant prospect at this point.

The threat that ISIS poses to all the countries and peoples in the region won't stop their bitter enemies from turning on each other in the near future. A Shiite-Kurd war isn't out of the question. Two years ago, a senior Shiite cleric and member of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq labeled Kurds "rogues" and said that Shiite militias will march on Kurdistan when their mythical Mahdi returns.

An even more dangerous scenario would be an all-out Sunni-Shiite war, which is possible if ISIS wins the narrative war and convinces the Sunnis of Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and other countries that Iran and Shiites pose an existential threat to them.

The longer ISIS is allowed to function and secure its new state from opponents then the more likely it is that the Middle East will totally collapse and much bigger wars will commence.

Defeating ISIS should be priority number one. But the country that is most responsible for its rise, the United States, doesn't seem too interested.

Washington isn't serious about defeating ISIS because it refuses to cooperate with the three most capable forces in the region that have shown both ability and willingness in the fight against ISIS. They are the Syrian army headed by Assad, the PKK, and Iran.

Washington accuses the PKK of being a terrorist group just because their NATO ally Turkey says so, and still contends that Iran is making nuclear weapons despite evidence to the contrary.

Instead of facing reality, seeking out new, more sensible allies, and making pragmatic decisions to destroy terrorism in Iraq and across the region, Washington has chosen to side with the very backers of the transnational terrorist group ISIS, who include Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, UAE, and Qatar.

An excerpt from, "Iran Offers US Aid in Fighting ISIS; US Rejects It" by Jason Ditz:
The US has made it clear they want to insinuate themselves into the ISIS war in a big way, and assemble a massive “coalition of the willing” for the war, though they likewise have been unwilling to accept the most likely such allies, Iran and Syria, because of a longstanding policy of hostility toward those nations.
Despite setbacks at Amerli and the Mosul dam, ISIS will continue to grow because it has a strategy, a vision, a competent leadership, many streams of revenue, well-trained fighters who have a missionary zeal and a thirst to kill anything standing in their way. It is a united sectarian death cult that knows exactly what it wants, while their enemies are confused and play the pretend-game, pretending that they're allies.

They're in no way unbeatable, as the Syrian Army, Hezbollah, and the PKK have shown in Syria in the last three years in various battles. But the more they're allowed to stick around by the current regimes in the region the chances are that they'll become powerful enough to pose a serious threat to every single country in the region, from Israel to Iran.

Lebanon seems to be the next stop in their journey.