Why and How
Right now, this very moment strategic analyst and generally people all over the world must be scratching their head, as to why America will not hesitate to get any help from Iran to jointly stop Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) a Sunni militant group, who at present are on the verge of taking over Iraq. Iran is the country which not long ago was designated as a terror state by President Barrack Obama’s predecessor George W Bush who famously called Iran one of the” axes of evil”. A Triumvirate of evil countries of Iraq, Iran and North Korea. So how this diametric change were America and Iran Joining hands to tackle ISIS which is an idea that was remotely impossible to conceive even few weeks back. What must be the reasoning behind it must be beyond a lot of people in the Middle East and in America.
But in reality it is quite simple because America’s refusal to arm the Sunni Muslim fighters in Syria was based on the assessment it will be used against them in future because of past experiences in Afghanistan. So in hindsight it was the right decision and America would not like or want to send large numbers of troops into Iraq but only as advisors and special forces operations.
This idea of seeking support from Iran will not be well received by the Saudis, but it is possible this decision was taken because Iraq is governed by Shia and America wanted to maintain balance. But the idea to take support from Iran to stop ISIS must have driven Wahhabi Arabs mad, because now America will be joining forces with Iran a Shia dominant country who are a minority in Islam and the Sunni dominated counties of Arab land would now have to comply with this idea.
But this idea is the right way forward in overall frame of things because Iran has a strong army, well trained in handling these types of conflicts and logistically prudent because Iraq under ISIS will witness mass killings of non Sunnis. How the whole deal would function will have to be worked out between America and Iran because if Iran plays its part many sanctions will be immediately revoked by U.S and European Union in coming months. Now, Europe will support the United States to stop ISIS, but what reactions will be coming out of Israel and Saudi Arabia is also worth considering.
Israel and Saudi Arabia
Israel is America’s strongest ally in the Middle East and has been strategic partners since 1948 when the state of Israel was formed under the leadership of David Ben Gurian. On the other hand Saudi Arabia is America’s biggest partner from Islamic countries and main supplier of oil. The very thought of America seeking help from Iran is repugnant to Israel and Saudi Arabia and given the opportunity Israel will not squander a chance to destroy Iran’s Nuclear facilities, which would make Saudi Arabia very happy because the very thought of Iran Possessing Nuclear Weapons is an aberration which would give Iran the strategic advantage in the Persian Gulf is something both countries would not want.
But the fact is Israel lives in a very tricky neighborhood surrounded by countries given a single opportunity would not hesitate to destroy it. And Saudi Arabia is fast becoming very unpopular country in the Middle East because of the decadence of the royal family with depleting oil reserve. So in the overall interests of Israel and Saudi Arabia a stable Iran is not the right way forward politically, militarily and economically.
It is ironic that Saudi Arabia would allow Israeli Air Force to use its air space to attack Iran because of religious differences and if Israel thinks that by destroying Iran’s nuclear facilities it will make them more secure than they are in for a surprise. Once Iran’s nuclear capabilities are gone would the Saudis who still do not recognize the state of Israel would give them diplomatic recognition? No because frankly the moment the Star of David is unfurled in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Saudi royal family should start packing because their days will be numbered.
For Israel this could prove advantageous, since America if they choose to seek help from Iran would certainly attach few riders.
- Easing sanctions and in return Iran must halt their nuclear programme.
- Allow international inspectors which would nullify air strikes.
- Iran would have to drop the idea of the destruction of Israel.
- Iran should ask Hezbollah to stop attacking Israeli settlement and make peace which would isolate Hamas.
However these above points seems farfetched, but the fact is even if Iran’s nuclear facilities are neutralized Israel would not be safe because if ISIS takes control of Iraq and Syria they will not negotiate with Israel, they would go for total destruction of Israel and the money will come from the pious sheikhs of Saudi Arabia because the Saudis still hates Israel.
For Saudi Arabia and its decadent rulers they do not want ISIS taking control of Iraq and Syria either because though ISIS is a Sunni terror group, they consider the rulers of Saudi Arabia heretics for allowing U.S troops in holy Muslim land which is blasphemy. To them the Saudis are far worst then the infidels and if history has taught us anything, radicals have always been harsher with their own people for not following their way. For ISIS there is no such thing as liberal Muslim because any Muslim who shows compassion to an infidel is an infidel.
Iraq and ISIS
But coming back to the main issue of ISIS taking over Iraq a country which right now is being governed by a Shia majority under the leadership of a Shia Prime Minster Nuri Al Malaki who holds key portfolios of the government have done a very poor job in maintaining peace by overlooking atrocities committed towards their minority Sunni. He has allowed the cycle of mistrust continue and is heavily influenced by Iran and this has given rise and support of ISIS along with the escalating crisis in Syria where ISIS have gained lot of experience and have now managed a foothold in Iraq and Syria.
ISIS promises to provide security for Sunnis in Iraq and the common Sunni they would have no choice but run to them, but the cost will be high. They will impose the strictest form of Islam which most Muslims disagree and do not want, but in these situation“the choice of safety will always overpower the cost of freedom” and in the words of Edmond Burke “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” The average Iraqi is a descent and kind human being with good conscience but sadly is faced with insurmountable odds and few choices, so just as the Taliban was welcomed in Afghanistan the ISIS will be welcomed by the persecuted Sunni minority.
Iraq with minority Sunni always dominated the majority Shia and other sects for a long time and committed horrible crimes against them under Saddam Hussein. It is ironic because throughout History often the minority dictated terms with Majority and in Syria it is the same. The people in power are the minority Alawite religious group, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam which consists of around 12 percent of the total Syrian population which controls the majority Sunni.
The current crises faced by Syria are a direct manifestation of festering problems due to years of oppressive and heavy handed rule by the Assad Family. The Syrian government supported by Shia Iran has always dealt with the majority of the population with impunity which is why there are in the middle of a very bloody civil war which is going to get even messier.
U.S Domestic Politics
It is very clear that after suffering huge losses of lives of the Americans solders in Iraq which is estimated over 4500, the U.S president is in no mood to put boots on the ground. It would be a logistical nightmare for the U.S Military, although they are capable of conducting such operation, but back in 2003 the entire offensive was planned well in advance and the U.S military was fighting regular Iraqi Army, not unconventional street fighters highly experienced in urban guerrilla warfare.
Apart from that they would have to bear in mind three things, Cost, Casualty and the most important thing “Politics”. Never mind trying to generate support from the American public which wants nothing to do with this war anymore, but the serious implication of not interfering is also very high. Senior U.S politicians from the Republican Party will see it as a sign of weakness of the Democratic Party president for not going soon enough and the idea to join forces with Iran will not go very well with the Christian right wing. This is a classic case of catch 22 for this American administration.
Even if America decided to Bomb ISIS targets and its moments, there will be a huge risk for causing civilian deaths and it would be difficult to label it as collateral damage. To order air strike some boots will have to be on the ground for logistical support and with ISIS are surprisingly well armed and more importantly fighting like an army can cause lot of anxiety to the troops on the ground of possible kidnapping because America will not call ISIS an army and any ISIS fighter caught will be treated as terrorist i.e. enemy combatant. But the very idea of U.S soldier being taken as prisoner by ISIS will send shiver down the spine of America, because the level of ruthlessness they show is clear indication how the prisoner will be treated and it use as propaganda video which will not go well with the American Public.
In all this madness the most important thing everyone will forget are the people of Iraq because right now Iraq is in ruins, and is divided into three spears of influence. The Majority Shia, the Minority Sunni and probably the most persecuted ethnic group in Iraq the Kurds who under Saddam Hussein had suffered terribly. Ten’s and thousands were gassed by their own regime, the highest number of people dying due to the usage of poison gas after 1st world war. The Kurds will not like to see being dominated by these Sunni zealots because then that will be their end. The Shia’s will not tolerate the Sunnis to take control of Iraq or Syria which has many strategic value for Iran and Russia who at this moment are simply enjoying this turkey shoot.
So where does this leave Iraq
Is Balkanizing Iraq into three different countries the right way forward?
If we go with this option and cut Iraq into three pieces, it may solve the problem Sectarian violence, but the shia dominated part will eventually go to Iran. The Kurds will get northern part of Iraq and they already control the oil rich province of Kirkuk. Does that mean the areas with long border with Iran are controlled by Shia’s and the border with Saudi Arabia to be handed over to Sunnis? The bifurcation of Iraq based on sectarian and ethnic choices will prove to be a geographical nightmare. Because each side would want the best piece of this real estate. Also every other major city has some religious significance for both Shia’s and Sunnis and how that will be taken care of is anybody’s guess. Also the Sunni ISIS will not hesitate to destroy religious sites and relics which are sacred to shia’s because their brand of Islam is harsher than any other school of thoughts and Iran has made it clear it will not tolerate any harm to any of its holy sites.
Then there is the matter of Christians and Yazidi who are indigenous minorities who have been subject to violence from the Sunnis. What happens to them because no matter how Iraq is divided, it may be possible the Shia’s and Kurds may reach an equitable decision but the hard-line Sunni ISIS will not compromise. Any way if an agreement is reached, how in the world would America and Europe would deal with the massive influx of refugees, because we are talking about Millions of people and probably no guarantee for safety for the minority. Other problems are by creating a country for Kurds the Turkish government will face a lot of problems from within due to a long history of animosity between them.
History of interference and future course
This region has been interfered and prodded by the west since 1st world war with France and Britain with all its wisdom first divided Iraq and Syria and after them America joined to exert its influence in Middle East. First America destabilized a democratic Iran in 1953 and then supported Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war by looking the other way when he used chemical weapon, something a lot of Iranians have still not forgotten.
The west for a very long time have interfered in the Middle East politics for their own interest and fears by dividing Iraq and Syria without thinking of the repercussions and this has come back to haunt them now because ISIS wants a united Iraq and Syria and they will not stop. In the words of colonel James Doolittle goes “victory belongs to those who believe the most and more importantly believe in it the longest”. ISIS would either succeed or die trying.