July 12, 2014

Iraq War, Part III: The Return of Rationality And Realism To The Middle East? Maybe, But Not So Fast. . .

President Obama right now.

An excerpt from, "How a U.S.-Iran nuclear deal could help save Iraq" by Ryan Crocker, William Luers and Thomas Pickering, Washington Post, July 11:
An Arab proverb advises, “A problem is solved when it gets tougher.”

Illustrating that point, the advance in Iraq and Syria of the Islamic State poses a threat to the United States while clarifying choices for U.S. policymakers. The question confronting the United States and Iran is no longer whether to work together but how to do so. And in light of decades of distrust and animosity, communications between the two countries can be greatly facilitated by reaching a comprehensive nuclear agreement in talks underway in Vienna. Failure, however, would leave only bad options.

If the Islamic State is to be contained, the United States and other nations will have to reconsider past policies and manage enmities.
Another Arab proverb advises, “At the narrow passage there is no brother or friend.” Indeed, as we enter a new era of Middle East conflict, the path is narrow and fraught, and the United States will have to work with many strange bedfellows. But with the right nuclear agreement and pragmatic strategic decisions by Tehran and Washington, there is a way forward.
Meanwhile, in Gaza, Colonel Patrick Lang reports:
I will be surprised if there is not a ground invasion and I would think that it is likely to begin when Shabat ends today. Hamas actually seems to be inviting an Israeli ground operation. That indicates to me that either Hamas will accept heavy civilian casualties as a political warfare burden for Israel or that they have prepared the ground for a close encounter with the IDF or maybe both things.

This is all about disassembling the PA coalition in order to prevent effective peace negotiations.
Hezbollah has been accused of getting in on the action. Here is an excerpt from, "Hezbollah Allegedly Wades Into Israel-Gaza Conflict as Rockets from Lebanon Launched" by Vasudevan Sridharan, International Business Times, July 11:
Lebanon-based Shiite militant group Hezbollah is suspected of having opened a new front in the Israel-Gaza conflict as rockets fired from Lebanon have struck northern Israel.

Unconfirmed reports suggest the rockets were fired by Palestine-linked militant groups in Lebanon and not by the Islamist Hezbollah, which is widely perceived to be the long-arm of Iran.

Lebanon's Minister of State for Administrative Reform Nabil de Freij has also warned that strict action will be taken against any outfit that drags the country into battle for their own interests.

At least two rockets from southern Lebanon landed in northern Israel. In addition to that, the Lebanese army has defused two more rockets in Mari, the same location from where the earlier ones were thought to have been fired.
Back in Iraq, the Islamic State is mass executing members of religious minorities and other locals who are beginning to resist their rule. Here is an excerpt from, "Iraqi minorities victim of sectarian conflict" by Ali Mamouri, Al Monitor, July 11:
Recent reports have revealed great massacres against different religious minorities in these areas, which Hanin al-Qadu, head of the Iraqi Minorities Council, described as a genocide against them. IS had posted videos showing the arrest of hundreds of minorities, especially Yazidis and Shiites, and their mass execution.

Al-Monitor contacted a civilian minority leader in al-Kosh, 45 kilometers (28 miles) north of Mosul, to inquire on the situation of these groups. The source insisted not to be identified in the report, as armed gangs would kill anyone who makes such contacts.
The source said that after the announcement of the Islamic caliphate, minorities are threatened with extinction, because of the rulings IS has started to apply, including the expulsion of all adherents of minorities, including Christians, Yazidis and Shabak, from public departments in Mosul. IS has even imposed on the latter the choice of either converting to Islam or paying the Jizya in exchange for their safety. Moreover, all empty houses and properties of Christians, Shabak and other minorities who have fled the city fearing for their lives, were seized. Reports say that nearly two-thirds of the Christians have left their areas in the Ninevah province. The minorities who were displaced from Mosul know that they can no longer return, as their lives are threatened.
Here is a speech by Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hammad. Source: MEMRI TV. Date Published: June 2, 2014.