Saturday, January 2, 2016


Are Iraqis on a rollback against the caliphate? Not just Ramadi, but before that Gwer, Makhmur, Jalabja, al-Mansouryah, Tikrit, Baiji, Bashiqa, and Sinjar. Many by the Pesh, some by Hashd al-Shaabi, some by the Army.

I wish their country well. May the new year of 2016 bring them peace and prosperity. But I doubt very much that it will. Their constitution is a blueprint for a theocracy that also laid the groundwork for civil war aided by external agents.

Here is the Preamble to their Constitution from 2005:

"We the sons of Mesopotamia, land of the prophets, resting place of the holy imams, the leaders of civilization and the creators of the alphabet, the cradle of arithmetic; on our land, the first law put in place by mankind was written; in our nation, the most noble era of justice in the politics of nations was laid down; on our soil, the followers of the prophet and the saints prayed, the philosophers and the scientists theorized and poets created."

I get it about their pride in Iraqi history. They deserve it. Their land was a birthplace of civilization and a cradle of empires and monotheism when my ancestors tattooed their bodies blue, worshiped trees, and engaged in human sacrifice.

But with that phrase in the preamble: ”… resting place of the holy imams,…” they are advocating a single religious doctrine within what used to be a multicultural state (kind of like what the daesh caliphate is doing). The resting places they are talking about are of course six of what the Shia believe to be twelve divinely ordained and infallible leaders known as The Twelve Imams. Those six are resting in mosques in Karbala, Najaf, Samarra and Baghdad. Fundamentalist Sunnis consider those shrines an abomination. 

All of those mosques have been bombed, mortared or otherwise attacked multiple times since 2003.  The holiest of these to the Shia is the Imam Husayn Shrine in Karbala: 

From Wikipedia:

It was destroyed by Sunni Caliphs Harun al-Rashid and al-Mutawakkil in 787 and 850.

It was destroyed again in 886.

Wahabbis attacked it in 1801 and looted the sepulchre. 

Sadaam’s Republican Guard damaged it as a reprisal for the Shia uprising of March 1991. 

After Sadaam fled, at least 6 explosions occurred near it during the Ashura commemorations in March 2004, killing 178 people and wounding 500. 

A bomb detonated near the gate of the shrine in December 2004, killing at least 7 people and injuring 31 others. 

Suicide bombers at the shrine killed at least 60 people and injured more than 100 in January 2006.

A suicide attack 200 m from the shrine killed at least 36 people and injured more than 160 others in April 2007. 

In March 2008 a female suicide bomber detonated herself in the market near the shrine, killing at least 42 people and injured 58 others. 

In September 2008 a bomb was detonated 800 m from the shrine, killing one woman and injuring 12 others. 

In February 2009 a bomb blast killed 8 people and wounded more than 50 others during the commemoration of Arba‘een. 

In February 2010, again at Arba‘een, three bomb attacks were aimed at the shrine:
  - on 1 February a female suicide bomber detonated herself, killing 54 and injuring more than 100;
  - two days later on the 3rd a bomb blast killed at least 23 people and injured more than 147;
  - two days after that on the 5th a double bomb-blast or a combination of a bomb-blast and mortar attack killed at least 42 and left 150 injured.

That is 15 attacks on one of the holiest sites in Shia Islam. Ten of them occurred in a seven year time window from 2004 thru 2010. And they will surely be attacked again. Maybe Iraq should be a Shia theocracy, or maybe they already are? But how could that work considering that the Shia only represent about 61 or 62% of the Iraqi population? They appear to be mimicking Sadaam, doing to the Sunnis what Sadaam did to them. Maliki and the DAWA Party (which was bought and paid for by Iran) brought that on. 

Abadi is supposedly better. Here Abadi is seen greeting Sunni militiamen near Ramadi. But Abadi is also from the DAWA Party. So is the smile genuine or is he smiling while contemplating 'revenge-served-cold' after the Americans leave for good? And Maliki, although no longer Prime Minister is still in Government as Vice President. 

What are their options to keep the peace: forced conversion? forced expulsion? ethnic cleansing (or its religious equivalent)? partition? 

And because of oil in the Sunni and Kurdish areas does anyone see them ever agreeing to partition? Wouldn't their big brother to the east back them up on rebuffing partition, especially for the Kurds? After Daesh is defeated will the Iraqi government go to war with the Kurds over Kurdish occupation of Kirkuk and its oil? Already there has been shooting between the Shia militias and Peshmerga in Kirkuk.


  1. mike,
    good points all.
    i wouldn't say that the iraqi gov't that we created engages in genocide v the sunnis, but i would say that they practice ethnic cleansing with gusto.
    i always wonder why we call isis areas as a caliphate, but block out that viewpoint when discussing the iraqi govt.
    jim hruska

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  3. Ranger:

    Duplicate comment removed.

    Yes, perhaps the Iraqi govt does not overtly engage in genocide vs Sunnis. But they finance and promote the Hashd al-Shaabi Shia militias that do, or try to, at least against any Sunni that does not toe the proper subservient line. They should heed Shakespeare's line: "The smallest worm will turn being trodden on, And doves will peck in safeguard of their brood."

  4. mike,
    istm that there is a news blackout here in the states on the iraqi internal situation.
    is/isil is a logical expression of a very f..ked up political and governmental situation.

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  6. "Are Iraqis on a rollback against the caliphate?"


    The Shia majority (which is also the current power on the throne in Baghdad) is pushing back the latest incarnation of the Sunni Arab residents of the Fertile Crescent, as you discuss in the body of your post.

    To characterize this as the "government of Iraq" against "Daesh/the IS" is to obscure that, and to in passing legitimize the mess that the Bushies made when they knocked the Saddam Tikriti regime off the gaddi.

    My whole issue with the current excitement for playing whack-a-muj with the Sunnis in Sunnistan is that it doesn't solve the problem that there's no real alternative for the bastards; it's win and establish a separate Sunni enclave in western Iraq/eastern Syria, or live as slaves of whatever other groups come out on top. There's no real alternative, given the zero-sum politics of the Middle East, regardless of whatever ridiculous verbiage is written into the Iraqi "constitution"...

    (And, in passing, if that isn't the most ridiculously Bremeresque piece of nonsense I've read in a long time I can't think of what it. I knew that the Bush CPA was a notorious skinnerbox of unreconstructed Federalist Society, Young Republican, and right-wing think tank muttonheads who really believed that all they had to do was let freedom reign and some sort of Randite free-market paradise would bloom along the Tigris...but boy fucking howdy is that the jizz rag of a conservetard wankfest, or what..?)

    Nope. The region is completely hosed, the sectarian genie ain't going back in the bottle short of a Sri Lankan-level genocide, and that's pretty much all you can say...

  7. And here's a more complete version of the comment above:

  8. Ranger;

    Agreed that our big media outlets are afraid to tackle the issue. Or more likely they are understaffed with real journalists and/or are too wrapped up in portraying our elections as personality contests.

    BTW, duplicate comment removed, again. What is going on there? Too quick on the trigger, or tech issues?

    1. Afraid? Or just unwilling. As jim points out, the Islamic State isn't the problem per se; it's a symptom of the disaster that has been unfolding in the region since the end of the colonial period. Like much of Africa, the combination of local tribal and sectarian conflicts, colonial fuckups, post-colonial mistakes (whether deliberate or genuine errors), and current events have made a hell of a lot of the Middle East a complex, interlocking Rubik's Cube of fucktardry. There's a LOT of "bad answers", a couple "better-than-completely-horrible" ideas, and not a whole lot of good answers.

      And the news organs - especially the television and radio news - are really, really horrible at "complexity". Expecting them to do a better job with this would be good, but, realistically, not likely.

      Then again...a "citizen" should be expected to know that and work hard to go find multiple sources to educate him/herself. We don't, by and large, and that's a pretty savage indictment of the state of our nation. Not surprising, mind you - most people have a lot more life to live than fretting about "some damn thing in the Middle East" - but damning all the same.

  9. To give you an idea of the sort of complexity that makes the Middle East and foreign policy in general so difficult for the "media", look at Pat Lang's thoughts on a "genuinely self-interested" U.S. foreign policy agenda:

    Can you imagine, for example, CBS News trying to explain this: "Trim Israeli defense subsidies to a level that encourages good neighborly relations without endangering Israel. Add a price to the cost of meddling in US domestic politics - it should be a redline." You'd have GOP Likudniks shrieking from one side, Palestinian-huggers screaming from the other, the Israelis themselves going batshit, and Charles Krauthammer's eyes bleeding actual bloody tears. It'd be a total nightmare.

    And yet, the actual suggestion itself is noting more than a fairly moderate alternative to the current mess.

  10. Speaking of Lang, his assessment of the Ramadi action is much more cynical. While his domestic politics are ridiculous, generally Lang's assessments of Middle Eastern geopolitical news are pretty sound.

  11. FDChief;

    Colonel Lang is a smart cookie in many things especially on the middle east. I believe though that he may be mistaken on Iraq and that has a lot to do with his recent cheerleading for what he calls the R+6 coalition in Syria. IMHO, the gains in Syria against daesh have as much to do with Syrian Kurds plus their Arab and Assyrian allies and the western coalition air forces. Russia and Assad are focused more against Turkey's allies in Syria.

  12. FDChief: 'To characterize this as the "government of Iraq" against "Daesh/the IS"...'

    I hope I did not contribute to that characterization. It certainly was not my intent. I believe I used the term 'Iraqis' and not the 'government of Iraq' in my opening question.

    And I cannot say I agree that genocide is the only way out. Although I admit to asking a similar question, An Iraqi three canton federation of Sunnistan, Shiastan and Kurdistan could possibly work but it is doubtful as it would require the acquiescence of the Saudis, Turks and Iranians. The Saudis should present no objections. The Turks possibly could be convinced if the Iraqi Turcomans were included as a fourth self-governing canton and there was some rapprochement with the PKK. The Iranians would be a problem for a federation. But there must be some way to coax them in???

    BTW, the nine Iraqi cities I mentioned as being retaken from daesh are just the tip of the iceberg. What is not mentioned anywhere in the US press is the hundreds of small towns and villages also liberated.

  13. Although olonel Lang may well be right on regarding the Iraqi Army. Reports today are claiming an ISIS counterattack on Ramadi and the cutting off of Iraqi Army supply routes.

    But I expect those are only short lived spoiling attacks, successful only because of suicide truck bombs. Although the head-choppers are probably never going to run out of "dare-to-die" recruits for suicide missions; at some point in time they will run out of trucks and bulldozers.

  14. The problem with your partition idea, Mike, is that none of the parties outside the Kurds and Sunnis will buy it.

    The overall problem is the same as the US faced in 2003; the intelligent solution to Iraq was partition. But too many other Middle Eastern "countries" are colonial fictions. Accepting partition for Iraq would open too many other cans of worms; Syria, Turkey, Israel, Yemen...

    Turkey and Iran wouldn't accept an independent Kurdistan, the Iraqi Shia either Kurdish or Sunni independence, and the Saudis and the Gulf emirates would have issues w a Shia Iraq functionally part of Iran.

    It's actually a good idea, just not one politically palatable to almost anyone in the region...

  15. I am not pushing Partition Chief. I concur with your points on Iran & Turkey. Although there have been signs that some in Turkey (definitely not Erdogan and his posse) are softening their stance on that.

    What I was pushing was a loose federation (confederation??), similar to what the KRG already seems to have within Iraq. Give Anbar and parts of Salahuddin the same autonomous or semi-autonomous self-governing rights that the Kurds enjoy now. Seems to have worked for Canada to tame the FLQ. Malaysia has two federated states in Borneo that are autonomous from the peninsular states. And doesn't Belgium have self governing regions because of tension between the Flemish and French speaking regions? I realize the Articles of Confederation did not work for us back in the late 18th century. And Jeff Davis's central government was too weak also.

    And perhaps it won't work in Iraq either. But trying it would be better than your Sri Lankan example.

    If it was to work, it would require some international guarantor would be needed. Hopefully not Uncle Sam.

  16. Federation= partition, tho, Mike. Look at Iraqi Kurdistan. It's functionally independent, and that was the point for the Kurds from the get-go. Neither the Kurds nor the Sunni will defer to Baghdad if they have a choice.

    I'd love to see a non-genocidal option. I don't.

  17. mike,
    re your cmt that you get the pride that the iraqis have for their history.i thought about this during the weekend.
    Most all of the things that they mention in their preamble were events/occurances that were pre-islamic.
    just sayin'
    jim hruska

  18. Ranger - Yeah, I caught that too. Even the " of the prophets..." they mention are pre seventh century. Those prophets they mention were Adam, Abraham, Noah, et al. Sound familiar?

  19. Ranger - On the other hand I have to think that Muslim Abbasid dynasty was what they were talking about when that preamble called out: "...the philosophers and the scientists theorized and poets created."

    Islam's Golden Age:

  20. FDChief:

    You may be right. Especially now that the Saudis have beheaded al-Nimr. That probably deep-sixed any semi-independent Sunni Region in Iraq. That Saudi justice system is a great role models for the liver-eaters in Iraq and Syria, huh? A unified Iraq with a strong central government will not work IMHO without the emergence of another Sadaam. And you mentioned Colonel Lang's blog above. I note that he recently said: "...federation is not thought of as other than weakness in the ME." Possibly so. But there has to be a better solution than the Rwanda model.

  21. ranger - speaking of headchoppers, I note that both my icon and yours have our heads cropped out. Chief's seems to be OK. WTF are we doing wrong? I assume it has something to do with a square format requirement for icons vs portrait orientation of the original photos?????

  22. My guess is that the Saudi junta would be fine with a Sunnistan if it weakens the power of a Shia regime in Baghdad and is pliable to the interests of Riyadh. They probably would rather have a more conventional Wahhabist outfit like one of the AQ franchises than IS, outfit their purposes any orthodox is better than a Shia heretic.

    IMO we should really stop looking at these conflicts thru our Cold War and Crusader beer goggles. To me they resemble nothing so much as the 15th and 16th Century European Wars of Religion, complete with outside peddlers (Ottomans then, US and Russia and the EU now...).

  23. Meddlers, not peddlers. Fk you, autocorrect!