Iraq, a humanitarian intervention?

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The intervention of American military forces in Iraq was presented in Western and other medias as an intervention to protect religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq against the military progresses of the ultra reactionary jihadist group the Islamic State (IS, formerly known as the Islamic State Iraq and the Levant (ISIS)). This propaganda hides the imperialists political interests of the United States in their military intervention, which has no humanitarian purpose.

The IS since the month of June has continued to progress militarily in various regional areas, after the occupation of the city Mosul. In the beginning, the IS was acting within a diverse coalition with former Ba’athists and tribal leaders, but the jihadist group quickly gained the upper hand on the other components. [1] The IS suppressed all components of the population withholding its authority, including Sunni Muslims, while attacking and oppressing the Christians and Yezidi (Kurdish-speaking minority whose monotheistic religion has its roots in Zoroastrianism practiced particularly in Iran) minorities. The IS has emptied the city of Mosul’s Christian population and has occupied Qaraqosh, the largest Christian city in Iraq.

We have to mention the solidarity displayed by some of the Muslim population of Mosul against the abuses of the IS against Christians. Muslims actually joined the Christians to protest waving placards with the inscription “I am a Christian, I am Iraqi,” between their Christian compatriots and the jihadists of the IS. Mahmoud Am-Asali, a law professor at the University of Mosul, was the first Muslim killed by jihadists for defending Christians. On Saturday, July 19, the day of the expiry date of the famous terror ultimatum (in which the jihadists proposed three options to the Christians of Mosul: “Islam, the dhimma (special tax) and if they refuse these two options, there is only the sword left “), Muslims in Mosul, joined the Mass at the church to pray alongside their Christian brothers. Also on Sunday, July 20, in Baghdad, at the Catholic Church of Saint George.

The progresses and the terror exercised by the IS have so far led to the flight of 100,000 Christians who were forced to leave their homes, in addition to 20 000 to 30 000 members of the Yezidi community who remained trapped in the insecurity caused by the IS in the mountains of Sinjar, without food, water or shelter, according to the Office for the UN refugees. Thousands more, exhausted and dehydrated, were able to reach the Kurdistan via Syria. More than 200,000 people in total have been displaced because of the military progresses of the IS, while it has also committed massacres against civilians.

The IS would have about 10,000 men in Iraq and about 7,000 men to Syria.

The American military intervention has until now taken the form of “targeted” air strikes against the jihadists of the IS, sending military advisers on the ground, and the sending of arms to Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Iraqi self-government. France and Britain also supplied weapons to the latter. We must underline the support of Iran, so-called “anti-imperialist”, to these American strikes to assist the Iraqi allied regime…

The Iranian regime has also sent Pasdarans, or also known as the Revolutionary Guards, in Irak to fight the IS, while it has sent to the Iraqi government a few Sukhoi SU-25 Frogfoot’ ground attack aircraft, which only the Pasdarans are equipped within the Iranian forces. Similarly Iran continues to mobilize and fund Iraqi Shiite militias, more than 20,000 militiamen, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been supporting for years in Iraq. The presence of members of the Lebanese Hezbollah is also attested in tasks of command and coordination. One of them, Ibrahim al-Hajj, a veteran of the 2006 war against Israel, was recently killed in the north, near Mosul, which the IS controls from the very beginning of its offensive in June.

On the other hand, Kurdish fighters from Iraq, Syria and Turkey have joined forces in a rare alliance, putting their disagreements aside temporarily, to deal with jihadists in northern Iraq in the region of Rabia and Sinjar, at the West of Mosul. Kurdish fighters of the PKK in Turkey, the PYD in Syria and Iraqi peshmergas have united their forces in an unprecedented collaboration.

The US military intervention, despite its “humanitarian” propaganda, is nevertheless part of clear political objectives that are to protect American diplomatic personnel stationed in Erbil, (which is also home of a CIA basis), large multinational companies in the hydrocarbon/oil sector such as Mobil, Chevron, Exxon and Total exploiting the oil production in the region and have already invested more than $ 10 billion, but the primary purpose above all is primarily to keep the Iraqi regime ally, inherited from the American invasion. The United States did not intervene when Mosul fell and other regions and more than 200 000 refugees were on the road in direction of Iraqi Kurdistan, but when IS was threatening to conquer the Kurdish areas of the North and the capital Baghdad in the South.

That is why the United States only wants cosmetic and superficial changes in the Iraqi regime, replacing only the Prime Minister Maliki, who was also let down by his Iranian ally because of his catastrophic mismanagement of the country. The new prime minister, Haidar al-Abadi, is far from representing any radical change, is a close partner of Maliki and a member of the same party Dawa, while he was communication minister in the interim government set up after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The new Prime Minister Al Abadi has received international support, including from Iran. The ex-Prime Minister Maliki has nevertheless tried to remain in power, but finally gave up. Following this announcement, American officials said that they could accelerate the economic and military aid to Iraq if the new government of al Abadi is more inclusive, particularly towards the Sunni population of Iraq. But this is to forget that it is the current political system of the Iraqi regime and the same political forces that have led Iraq into this situation today as we have explained in an article in June.

The protection of religious and ethnic minorities is actually not at all a priority for the USA when we observe the practices of its political allies in the region, on the opposite they discriminate and oppress their own minorities, such as Saudi Arabia and its Shia minority, Egypt and its Coptic Christian and Shia minority, or Israel against the Palestinian people, including Christian, which represses and pushes them into exile in the territories of 48 (inside the Zionist State) and the occupied territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, not to mention its policy of apartheid, occupation and colonization. Similarly, the United States were not as “worried” as today of the attacks on minorities in the wake of the American and British invasion in 2003.

We must remember that the origin of the IS is actually in the constitution of Al Qaeda following the American invasion. Its leader Abu Baghdadi began his experience of jihadism after the American invasion in 2003 when he joined the Iraqi branch of al-Qaeda under the command of the Jordanian al-Zarqawi. In 2010, he took the head of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Sham (ISIS today known as the IS), which replaced Al-Qaeda in Iraq. It is nevertheless the involvement in the Syrian revolution, fighting mostly the Free Syrian Army rather than the Assad regime, especially from 2013, which allowed the IS to become what it is today. Fighting in Syria offered training and unprecedented learning opportunities for the IS. Then the group now has tanks, humvees, missiles and other heavy weapons acquired in its fights during its offensive in Iraq. This military material, including American-made abandoned by the Iraqi army during its withdrawal from Mosul in June greatly strengthened the military capabilities of the IS.

The USA intervention is driven by political and imperialist interests and nothing else. These interests now demand to maintain the authoritarian and sectarian regime that the United States created in 2003 and that they have been supporting. The IS is the enemy of the United States because it threatens the sovereignty of a government that collaborates with the USA, and not because it is an ultra reactionary sectarian group that attacks minorities and Iraqis in general.

Similarly, if the United States did not intervene in Syria, it is not because they think the Assad regime protects religious and ethnic minorities, but because they do not want to overthrow a regime that has served their political interests on many occasions in the past, including by suppressing the Palestinian and Lebanese progressive resistance in Lebanon and Syria, and that participated in the imperialist war against Iraq in 1991 with the coalition led by the United States, etc … the United States wants a “Yemeni solution” with the Assad regime, that is to say, maintain the structures of the regime and incorporate a fraction of the so-called opposition that serve Western and the Gulf interests. It is for this reason that the United States did not intervene in Syria, and not the protection of minorities. Besides the exactions of the IS in Syria did not push for a change of policy of the USA in relation to the Syrian revolutionary process. The events in Iraq have simply pushed the Assad regime to attack much more the IS and its base in the city of Raqqa, to appear as fighting “terrorism” in front the international community. The Assad regime since the beginning of the Syrian revolution actually focused on attacking and repressing the Democrats, the Popular Committees and subsequently groups of the Free Syrian Army, while it freed Islamist and jihadist from its prisons and let them to expand. These latters with the political and financial support from regional powers like Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been able to build large and well-armed military brigades.

The protection of religious and ethnic minorities, and all the citizens of Iraq can only be possible through a truly democratic and social State stripped from political sectarianism and foreign interventions, whether from international and regional states. Similarly it does not stop us from supporting the self-determination of the Kurdish people, and even the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan if that is their choice. This support does not imply the support for the feudal political leader Barzani who is an ally of the USA and Turkey, on the contrary he must be fought and considered as an enemy of the Kurdish working class through its neoliberal and authoritarian policies and alliances with Western imperialism and regional cooperation with Turkey and Israel.

That is why we must oppose the imperialist intervention of the United States and other regional countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, and oppose jihadists of the IS, their crimes and reactionary policies as well as the authoritarian and sectarian Baghdad government. These foreign interventions are a major reason for the current situation in the country.

The need in Iraq, and elsewhere, is to build a democratic, progressive, secular and social popular movement opposing sectarianism to allow and give the possibility to the working and popular classes to oppose political groups and foreign states seeking to divide them on a religious and / or ethnic basis, impoverishing them with neo-liberal policies and oppressing them through authoritarian and repressive measures.

Joseph Daher

1)For a background on the events of June in Iraq see article “Iraq, the continuous suffering”

3 thoughts on “Iraq, a humanitarian intervention?

  1. Pingback: Alternative Energy Fetishes and Temples to Technology | Collapse of Industrial Civilization

  2. Pingback: Syria: US intervention against ISIS? | الحرب الطائفية في المملكة

  3. Why should we oppose one counterrevolutionary force (USA) from attacking an other counterrevolutionary force (IS)?
    Should we adopt the slogan: Obama stop bombing IS

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