The Iraq War: 16 Years Later .... and Counting ...

owedtojoy

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16 years since the "Shock and Awe" of the US and Allied attack on Iraq that ended the regime of Saddam Hussein, and led to a prolonged destabilisation of the region.

The last 16 years are impossible to understand with reference to the Iraq invasion. Probably its most malignant outcome was an explosion of Islamic Fundamentalism leading to the formation of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and then to ISIS. On top of that, civil war between Sunni and Shia, up to 3000 American dead, and the ISIS caliphate committing genocide against the Yazidis of Northern Iraq ...

The Syrian civil war did not start as a result of Iraq, but it was made much more savage by the injection of the Islamic terror that had been unleashed in Iraq. The power vacuum in Iraq was filled by malign forces like ISIS, and possibly Iran has been the major beneficiary.

Yet, as Chris Hayes points out, who has paid a price, besides the unfortunates of Iraq and Syria ?.... Actually, very few, in American politics and news media at least.


You could list the men or organisations that have escaped scot-free from responsibility ...

1 .George W Bush has paid a reputational price, but retired peacefully to his Texas ranch with all the honours due to a President. But his Vice-President, Dick Cheney is still an honoured member of the elite in the Republican Party, despite the fact that many think he was the evil genius behind the whole operation.​
2. Benjamin Neyanyahu was a prime mover and instigator of the war, as an ally of the US. Again, he suffered no damage to his reputation and is an honoured foreign dignitary (unlike Tony Blair). And his every wish seems to be a command to the US President and his party.​
3. John Bolton, a prime instigator and liar as the US envoy to the United Nations, so extreme in fact that Bush made him a recess appointment because even a Republican Senate would not confirm him. Bolton is still a key leader of US foreign policy, and advocate for regime change (including by US invasion) in Iran and Venezuela.​
4. American media, including Fox News. The media (with come honourable exceptions) joined in the drumbeat for war unquestioning and uncritically. Tony Blair spoke to Rupert Murdoch every day in the lead-up to war, ensuring his media empire was "on message". Yet Murdoch and his Empire are still accepted by millions in the US and UK as opinion formers and truth purveyors.​
5. The US Republican Party. The GOP lost the Presidency in 2008 and again in 2012. But (helped by a Great Recession it did much to cause) it re-invented itself as a pro-austerity anti-deficit party to win Congress again in 2010. Then it re-invented itself again as a populist, anti-free-trade party in 2016, led by a unashamedly racist TV Star and billionaire hotelier & real estate magnate. But the one constant between the Bush and Trump eras have been tax cuts for the wealthy, neo-conservatives in high office, a slavish pursuit of Israeli interests (mixed to an extent with Saudi interests) and an aggressive posture towards Iran.​
The scary thing about the Iraq War, like the Great Recession, is that it could so easily happen again, this time in Iran, or in Venezuela .... any protection that might have been put in place have been eroded or forgotten. And the conjunction of forces in power in Washington are much the same as they were in 2003 ...
 


Antóin Mac Comháin

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You could list the men or organisations that have escaped scot-free from responsibility ...The scary thing about the Iraq War, like the Great Recession, is that it could so easily happen again, this time in Iran, or in Venezuela .... any protection that might have been put in place have been eroded or forgotten. And the conjunction of forces in power in Washington are much the same as they were in 2003 ...
"If there are some things in life that should not be bet on, the question of who will next win the Nobel Peace Prize somehow feels like it should be among them. Internet bookmakers, however, will place odds on almost anything, and they are not above taking wagers on Nobel prospects. Over the past two years, some of the safest money has not been on a head of state, a major nongovernmental organization, or a charismatic resistance leader, but rather on a soft-spoken, eighty-five-year-old academic. His name is Gene Sharp.

The slim volume has a habit of turning up in hot spots of global resistance. Originally written in 1993 to help dissidents in Burma use nonviolent action against the ruling junta, the book made it into the library of Serbian students seeking to overthrow the regime of Slobodan Milošević, circulated among activists during successful uprisings in Georgia and the Ukraine, and was downloaded in Arabic amid mass protests in Tunisia and Egypt.

The Iranian government has denounced the book and its author by name. In the summer of 2005, two independent bookshops in Russia were burned down after stocking the newly available Russian translation. (“I still keep a half-burned copy on a shelf in my office,” one opposition leader told the Wall Street Journal.) Particularly in the wake of the Arab Spring, Sharp’s renown has grown, and he was the subject of a feature documentary, entitled How to Start a Revolution, released just as the Occupy movement took shape in 2011.

Of course, the idea that any mass movement can be attributed to one person is dubious. With regard to the Arab Spring, Middle Eastern analysts have taken exception to the Western media’s eagerness to credit an American “Lawrence of Arabia” for rebellions that have deep local roots. Similarly ignoring indigenous agency, conspiracy theorists on the far left have painted their own picture of Sharp as a puppet master at the center of a sinister CIA-led scheme to overthrow governments disliked by Washington.

In a 2005 interview, Sharp lamented that nonviolent struggle is held to an unfair standard, even if its human cost is relatively minimal.

“Guerrilla warfare has huge civilian casualty rates. Huge,” he said. “And yet Ché Guevara didn’t abandon guerrilla warfare because people were getting killed. The same is true in conventional war, of course. But then they say if you get killed in nonviolent struggle, then nonviolent struggle has failed.”

Sharp’s admirers and enemies alike have a tendency to treat the list with undue reverence. Sympathetic accounts act as if the theorist had somehow invented the tactics, rather than merely cataloging them. Hostile regimes, meanwhile, have viewed the items as a sort of nefarious recipe: in 2009 the Iranian government referenced the list in a televised trial of 110 dissidents, noting, as the Boston Globe reported, that “More than 100 of the 198 steps in the Gene Sharp manual of instructions for Velvet Revolution have already been executed.”

For an intellectual opponent of autocracy, being featured as an animated character in an Iranian propaganda film surely counts as a high honor. Sharp received this strange accolade in 2008, when Iran aired a video that showed a computer-generated version of the theorist scheming with Senator John McCain and philanthropist George Soros. It accused Sharp of being a CIA agent “in charge of America’s infiltration into other countries.”

These claims represented a move by right-wing theocrats to piggyback off of the delusions of the far left. In 2005 French anti-imperialist Thierry Meyssan charged that Sharp “helped NATO and the CIA train the leaders of the soft coups of the last 15 years.” In Meyssan’s view, the Serbian students who respected Sharp were Washington shills used to overthrow a leader, Milošević, “who was very popular for resisting NATO.” That Meyssan is also author of a book entitled 9/11: The Big Lie unfortunately did not stop the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez from swallowing the Frenchman’s accusations whole. In 2007 Chávez publicly denounced Sharp as being part of a U.S. plot to oust his government.

Like most conspiracy theories, Meyssan’s case against Sharp depends on using guilt by association to establish a shadowy network of intrigue. It doesn’t help that rabid neoconservatives such as Max Boot support Sharp’s Nobel candidacy, that right-wing students in Venezuela have sought out nonviolence trainings, or that organizations with close ties to the U.S. foreign policy establishment, such as Freedom House, have taken recent interest in the long-neglected role of nonviolent resistance in international affairs. But the fact that Sharp’s influence has transcended ideological lines hardly invalidates his advocacy of nonviolent movements."

Defenders such as Stephen Zunes have issued point-by-point rebuttals of charges by the likes of Meyssan. Along with prominent academics such as Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn, as well as antiwar leaders associated with the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Code Pink, and the War Resisters League, Zunes signed a letter of support for the Albert Einstein Institution, stating, “Rather than being a tool of imperialism, Dr. Sharp’s research and writings have inspired generations of progressive peace, labor, feminist, human rights, environmental, and social justice activists in the United States and around the world.

Today, the list of undemocratic governments ousted by “people power” uprisings is so expansive that conventional wisdom about nonviolent conflict may well have reversed: one might argue that nonviolent action can be effective in challenging tyrannies but holds little value in places where dissent can be channeled through lobbying and electoral politics. The onus now is for activists to show how the same types of tactics used to oust Mubarak and Miloševi´c might also cause discomfort for the West’s wealthiest 1 percent.

A second factor influencing Sharp’s focus relates back to his theory of power. In a 1989 essay, Brian Martin of the University of Wollongong noted that when The Politics of Nonviolent Action discusses structures of power “it is usually using historical examples such as feudalism or Fascism,” rather than modern capitalism. - The Machiavelli of Nonviolence: Gene Sharp and the Battle Against Corporate Rule | Dissent Magazine


Love him or loathe him, it's impossible to separate Gene Sharp from the Arab Springs, and the Arab Springs from the Iraqi, Syrian and Yemeni Conflicts. Interesting that you mention both Iran and Venezuela as two countries which could become conflict zones, as the Iranians and the Venezuelans have pointed fingers at Sharp and accused him of instigating conflict in both countries. I'm not a big fan of conspiracy theories as a rule of thumb, but I'm not sure how the principle and primary motivating force of the Oil Wars, which is the oil, obviously, can be reduced to a secondary one at best, or a footnote at worst, in place of ill-defined causes which in the context of Sharps theories are 'power-structures', 'autocracies' and 'feudalistic societies', when the time comes for apportioning blame and responsibility and determining the fundamental causes of conflict. That depends on whether you believe the protests and the wars were about oil or regime change. If they were about regime change, I think Sharp escapes intellectual responsibility, but if they were also about oil, or solely about oil, Sharp is at the very least guilty of having people asking the wrong questions. It's more than five years since Engler penned the article above, and I wonder if Chomsky, Zinn and and Zune still regard Sharp as a pacifist in the same vein as anti-colonial pacifists like Gandhi? I wonder if the subsequent death toll in the ensuing conventional and unconventional conflicts, of which the Sharp-inspired Arab Springs were a precursor, has softened his cough or if he still believes that his theories on non-violent struggle were being 'held to an unfair standard', and that the 'human cost is relatively minimal', as he claimed in 2005? Ironically, in comparison, Che's 'guerrilla campaign' resulted in a handful of deaths.
 
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Herr Rommel

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What a shock potus Trump isn’t getting the blame.
 

owedtojoy

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What a shock potus Trump isn’t getting the blame.
With the rest of the Republican Party, he is not blameless.

Trump projected himself as someone who was against the Iraq War ....

... but how many protests did he attend? NONE

... are his objections to the war on record anywhere back in 2003? NO, THERE ARE NONE .....

Trump only turned against the war when he had the cover of public opinion. Before that, he was for it, like nearly all the plutocrat class. And in any interview, his main objection is that the US did not plunder enough oil to make the war worthwhile. No sorrow for the dead soldiers, no regrets for the tens of thousands of Iraqis slain, maimed or tortured. Trump hates the price tag, and that is it.

And now he is the one appointing lying warmongers to high office ....
 

owedtojoy

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Another war for Israel?
Who knows?

Syria is an ally of Iran, and tension on the Golan Heights would now more readily involve America on Israel's side, against Syria and Iran. A secret war is being waged between Israel and Iran already in Syria., Since it now recognises the Golan as Israeli sovereign territory, and Israel (of course) knows that, it would be hard for the US not be drawn in.

It would also prevent the US from being recognised as an "honest broker" in any attempts to negotiate a truce. That actually strengthens Russia's hand as it still (despite its alliances with Israel's enemies) maintains good relations with Israel.
 

raetsel

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I was in London in February on the weekend of the million man march which aimed to convince Blair to cease his involvement in the planned war and participated in it. I was a memorable day and the rally at Hyde Park featured some legendary figures, including Harold Pinter and Tony Benn. But it achieved nothing. There was another million man march today. I fear it will be just as pointless.
 

owedtojoy

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I was in London in February on the weekend of the million man march which aimed to convince Blair to cease his involvement in the planned war and participated in it. I was a memorable day and the rally at Hyde Park featured some legendary figures, including Harold Pinter and Tony Benn. But it achieved nothing. There was another million man march today. I fear it will be just as pointless.
It is ironic that is was "Old Europe" (what Rumsfeld called France and Germany) who called the Iraq War correctly and refused to bend to American pressure. Something for which they get little credit today, either.
 

owedtojoy

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I was in London in February on the weekend of the million man march which aimed to convince Blair to cease his involvement in the planned war and participated in it. I was a memorable day and the rally at Hyde Park featured some legendary figures, including Harold Pinter and Tony Benn. But it achieved nothing. There was another million man march today. I fear it will be just as pointless.
The protesters won the argument over the long run .... which is often the way with protest movements.
 

roc_

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It was in a way the mass uprising of popular opinion on the war that lead to it becoming such a disaster.

Because of the up-swell of public opinion (probably manipulated by states with interests antithetical to the interests of the West), the allied forces were not able to get any kind of mandate to do all that needed to be done, taking account of the situation.

Basically, you could not go into Iraq without also dealing with Iran. That was obvious.(This fact was repeatedly pointed out by the loathed "neocons" among others. Most good neoconservative analysts thought that going in to Iraq without dealing with Iran was ill advised.)

And this was borne out by the many proxies of Iran eventually activated in Iraq. The allied forces due to lack of a democratic mandate were unable to engage fully with the source of the Shia factions and proxies that arose in Iraq to exploit the vacuums and instabilities created - such as Muqtada al-Sadr, the shi'a death squads, the Mahdi Army, the Badr militia, the mass murdering monster Abu Deraa ('the Shia Zarqawi'), and many more.

That Iranian intervention in Iraq through it's proxies turned the country into a maelstrom of death and destruction, and in fact acted to foment its opposite, Al Qaida in Iraq, which eventually evolved into ISIS.
 

roc_

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Personally I think one of Blair's biggest mistakes was in his idealistic and ill-fated attempt to gain a “democratic” consensus for what needed doing, from 1999, when he first started speaking publicly about it, right up to when they eventually went into Iraq.

(There is no constitutional requirement for the UK government to seek any explicit form of Parliamentary approval before committing British forces to military action. The Royal Prerogative permits the government, in the Sovereign's name, to give the order to begin military action. Sure, before or after the start of previous wars, there had normally been debate in Parliament; however with Iraq, for the first time a vote was held, apparently allowing Parliament to block the declaration of war, even though it was, "purely symbolic" and "not binding on the government.")

So not only did Blair give Saddam years advance warning of their intentions, allowing him to destroy the evidence of WMD, but eventually subversive forces prevailed in ensuring that democratic consent in the West did not come about at all, so that they were unable to engage fully and do what needed doing, as I wrote about above.

We see today that among the worst repercussions of what happened is that now rogue regimes feel themselves immune from reprisal or consequence. The Iraq intervention above all sapped and eroded the confidence of Western interventionism for humanitarian purposes. Millions will suffer because of it.
 

roc_

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It is indeed a cynical irony that all that Blair warned against, that lead to his personal convictions in the righteousness of going into Iraq, has today pretty much come to pass, due to the massive failure of the Iraq military intervention. E.g.


Blair Speaking in Chicago in 1999 - The Blair Doctrine | PBS NewsHour
“… One of the reasons why it is now so important to win the conflict is to ensure that others do not make the same mistake in the future. That in itself will be a major step to ensuring that the next decade and the next century will not be as difficult as the past. If NATO fails in Kosovo, the next dictator to be threatened with military force may well not believe our resolve to carry the threat through…”​
Blair Speaking in September 2002 - Full text of Tony Blair's statement to parliament on Iraq
There will be others who say, rightly, that, for example, on present going, it could be several years before he acquires a usable nuclear weapon. Though, if he were able to purchase fissile materiel illegally, it would only be a year or two.​
But let me put it at its simplest: on this 11 year history; with this man, Saddam; with this accumulated, detailed intelligence available; with what we know and what we can reasonably speculate: would the world be wise to leave the present situation undisturbed; to say, despite 14 separate UN demands on this issue, all of which Saddam is in breach of, we should do nothing; to conclude that we should trust not to the good faith of the UN weapons inspectors but to the good faith of the current Iraqi regime?​
Our case is simply this: not that we take military action, come what may; but that the case for ensuring Iraqi disarmament (as the UN has stipulated) is overwhelming. I defy anyone on the basis of this evidence to say that is an unreasonable demand for the international community to make when, after all, it is only the same demand that we have made for 11 years and he has rejected.​
People say: but why Saddam? I don't in the least dispute there are other causes of concern on WMD. I said as much in this House on 14 September last year. But two things about Saddam stand out. He has used these weapons, thousands dying in chemical weapons attacks in Iraq itself. He used them in the Iran-Iraq war, started by him, in which one million people died. And his is a regime with no moderate elements to appeal to. Read the chapter on Saddam and human rights. Read not just about the one million dead in the war with Iran, not just about the 100,000 Kurds brutally murdered in northern Iraq; not just the 200,000 Shia Muslims driven from the marshlands in southern Iraq; not just the attempt to subjugate and brutalise the Kuwaitis in 1990 which led to the Gulf War. Read about the routine butchering of political opponents; the prison "cleansing" regimes in which thousands die; the torture chambers and hideous penalties supervised by him and his family and detailed by Amnesty International. Read it all and again I defy anyone to say that this cruel and sadistic dictator should be allowed any possibility of getting his hands on more chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons.
Blair speaking at Parliament debate, March 18 2003 - Full text: Tony Blair's speech
"… And now the world has to learn the lesson all over again that weakness in the face of a threat from a tyrant, is the surest way not to peace but to war.
Looking back over 12 years, we have been victims of our own desire to placate the implacable, to persuade towards reason the utterly unreasonable, to hope that there was some genuine intent to do good in a regime whose mind is in fact evil. Now the very length of time counts against us. You've waited 12 years.Why not wait a little longer?…​
… To fall back into the lassitude of the last 12 years, to talk, to discuss, to debate but never act; to declare our will but not enforce it; to combine strong language with weak intentions, a worse outcome than never speaking at all.​
And then, when the threat returns from Iraq or elsewhere, who will believe us? What price our credibility with the next tyrant? No wonder Japan and South Korea, next to North Korea, has issued such strong statements of support.
I have come to the conclusion after much reluctance that the greater danger to the UN is inaction: that to pass resolution 1441 and then refuse to enforce it would do the most deadly damage to the UN's future strength, confirming it as an instrument of diplomacy but not of action, forcing nations down the very unilateralist path we wish to avoid.​
But there will be, in any event, no sound future for the UN, no guarantee against the repetition of these events, unless we recognise the urgent need for a political agenda we can unite upon…”​
And,​
"… Let me tell the house what I know. I know that there are some countries or groups within countries that are proliferating and trading in WMD, especially nuclear weapons technology.
I know there are companies, individuals, some former scientists on nuclear weapons programmes, selling their equipment or expertise.
I know there are several countries - mostly dictatorships with highly repressive regimes - desperately trying to acquire chemical weapons, biological weapons or, in particular, nuclear weapons capability. Some of these countries are now a short time away from having a serviceable nuclear weapon. This activity is not diminishing. It is increasing…
… Faced with it, the world should unite. The UN should be the focus, both of diplomacy and of action. That is what 1441 said. That was the deal. And I say to you to break it now, to will the ends but not the means that would do more damage in the long term to the UN than any other course.​
To fall back into the lassitude of the last 12 years, to talk, to discuss, to debate but never act; to declare our will but not enforce it; to combine strong language with weak intentions, a worse outcome than never speaking at all.
And then, when the threat returns from Iraq or elsewhere, who will believe us? What price our credibility with the next tyrant? No wonder Japan and South Korea, next to North Korea, has issued such strong statements of support.​
I have come to the conclusion after much reluctance that the greater danger to the UN is inaction..”​
 

Antóin Mac Comháin

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I was in London in February on the weekend of the million man march which aimed to convince Blair to cease his involvement in the planned war and participated in it. I was a memorable day and the rally at Hyde Park featured some legendary figures, including Harold Pinter and Tony Benn. But it achieved nothing. There was another million man march today. I fear it will be just as pointless.
It's hard to believe that 30 years have passed since the 1st Iraqi War, and I remember protests which attracted less than 100 people. I think the fact that the war was a bit closer to home for the English explains why they attracted marches that size. Technology has replaced man on the battlefields, so the type of anti-war protests which helped bring the Vietnam war to an end would have been difficult to replicate. The power of the lens has replaced the power of the placard:

Yemen peace hangs on fragile truce as conflict far from over

International outcry over
Khashoggi's murder and images of emaciated Yemeni children has strained Saudi Arabia's relations with its western allies, including Washington.

But rights groups say the death toll is likely far higher. Save the Children has estimated that 85,000 Yemenis under five years old may have died of starvation.

Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, warned that children in Yemen continued to be killed and maimed at an alarming rate, despite the three-month-old truce in Hodeida.

"Since the Stockholm agreement on December 13, it is estimated that eight children have been killed or injured in Yemen every day," Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday. - Yemen peace hangs on fragile truce as conflict far from over

The protesters won the argument over the long run .... which is often the way with protest movements.
Why is there a war in Syria?

A peaceful uprising against the president of Syria almost eight years ago turned into a full-scale civil war. The conflict has left more than 360,000 people dead, devastated cities and drawn in other countries.

How did the Syrian war start?

Even before the conflict began, many Syrians were complaining about high unemployment, corruption and a lack of political freedom under President Bashar al-Assad, who succeeded his father, Hafez, after he died in 2000.

In March 2011, pro-democracy demonstrations erupted in the southern city of Deraa, inspired by the "Arab Spring" in neighbouring countries. - Why is there a war in Syria?

WikiLeaks Reveals How the US Aggressively Pursued Regime Change in Syria, Igniting a Bloodbath

A December 13, 2006 cable, "Influencing the SARG [Syrian government] in the End of 2006,"1 indicates that, as far back as 2006 - five years before "Arab Spring" protests in Syria - destabilizing the Syrian government was a central motivation of US policy. The author of the cable was William Roebuck, at the time chargé d'affaires at the US embassy in Damascus. The cable outlines strategies for destabilizing the Syrian government.

In his summary of the cable, Roebuck wrote:

We believe Bashar's weaknesses are in how he chooses to react to looming issues, both perceived and real, such as the conflict between economic reform steps (however limited) and entrenched, corrupt forces, the Kurdish question, and the potential threat to the regime from the increasing presence of transiting Islamist extremists. This cable summarizes our assessment of these vulnerabilities and suggests that there may be actions, statements, and signals that the USG can send that will improve the likelihood of such opportunities arising.

This cable suggests that the US goal in December 2006 was to undermine the Syrian government by any available means, and that what mattered was whether US action would help destabilize the government, not what other impacts the action might have. In public the US was in favor of economic reform, but in private the US saw conflict between economic reform and "entrenched, corrupt forces" as an "opportunity." In public, the US was opposed to "Islamist extremists" everywhere; but in private it saw the "potential threat to the regime from the increasing presence of transiting Islamist extremists" as an "opportunity" that the US should take action to try to increase.

Roebuck thus argued that the US should try to destabilize the Syrian government by coordinating more closely with Egypt and Saudi Arabia to fan sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shia, including by the promotion of "exaggerated" fears of Shia proselytizing of Sunnis, and of concern about "the spread of Iranian influence" in Syria in the form of mosque construction and business activity.

By 2014, the sectarian Sunni-Shia character of the civil war in Syria was bemoaned in the United States as an unfortunate development. But in December 2006, the man heading the US embassy in Syria advocated in a cable to the secretary of state and the White House that the US government collaborate with Saudi Arabia and Egypt to promote sectarian conflict in Syria between Sunni and Shia as a means of destabilizing the Syrian government. At that time, no one in the US government could credibly have claimed innocence of the possible implications of such a policy.

This cable was written at the height of the sectarian Sunni-Shia civil war in Iraq, which the US military was unsuccessfully trying to contain. US public disgust with the sectarian civil war in Iraq unleashed by the US invasion had just cost Republicans control of Congress in the November 2006 election. The election result immediately precipitated the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as secretary of defense. No one working for the US government on foreign policy at the time could have been unaware of the implications of promoting Sunni-Shia sectarianism.

Mali: Talking to Jihadists?

"There are also political and legal obstacles to talking with people linked to al-Qaeda. Ag Ghali is on a US terrorist list for a start, which would complicate any potential amnesty deal. Nobody knows what concessions he would seek to extract, how reliable an interlocutor he would be, and how talks might impact on an international coalition that has shed much blood fighting in the north. Domestically, dialogue could also become hostage to Mali’s elections due next year.

But it is "worth a try”, noted well-regarded Sahelian analyst Alex Thurston in a recent blog: “A peace process that makes no room for Ag Ghali is one that will be disrupted, perhaps fatally, by regular jihadist attacks.”


Although they happened at different ends of the stick, it's difficult not to see parallels between the Peace People in Ireland and the Peaceful Arab Springs, with the former an instrument of the British colonial project in Ireland with an Anti-Irish Republican theme, as opposed to being opposed to both sides in the conflict, and the latter a key instrument of the colonial project in Iraq and Syria. As per the William Roebuck cable above, the objective to create destabilization existed five years before the Peaceful Arab Springs. The protesters won in the end, but the protesters are on the same side as Ag Ghali. Go figure.
 

RasherHash

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It is ironic that is was "Old Europe" (what Rumsfeld called France and Germany) who called the Iraq War correctly and refused to bend to American pressure. Something for which they get little credit today, either.
Perhaps that was the last time they would resist US hegemony.
 

RasherHash

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I often wonder if the US spent half what they did on war, on peaceful projects for good, how people around the world would adore them.

But as we know there's no profit in that 🙁
 

owedtojoy

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It's hard to believe that 30 years have passed since the 1st Iraqi War, and I remember protests which attracted less than 100 people. I think the fact that the war was a bit closer to home for the English explains why they attracted marches that size. Technology has replaced man on the battlefields, so the type of anti-war protests which helped bring the Vietnam war to an end would have been difficult to replicate. The power of the lens has replaced the power of the placard:

Yemen peace hangs on fragile truce as conflict far from over

International outcry over
Khashoggi's murder and images of emaciated Yemeni children has strained Saudi Arabia's relations with its western allies, including Washington.

But rights groups say the death toll is likely far higher. Save the Children has estimated that 85,000 Yemenis under five years old may have died of starvation.

Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, warned that children in Yemen continued to be killed and maimed at an alarming rate, despite the three-month-old truce in Hodeida.

"Since the Stockholm agreement on December 13, it is estimated that eight children have been killed or injured in Yemen every day," Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday. - Yemen peace hangs on fragile truce as conflict far from over



Why is there a war in Syria?

A peaceful uprising against the president of Syria almost eight years ago turned into a full-scale civil war. The conflict has left more than 360,000 people dead, devastated cities and drawn in other countries.

How did the Syrian war start?

Even before the conflict began, many Syrians were complaining about high unemployment, corruption and a lack of political freedom under President Bashar al-Assad, who succeeded his father, Hafez, after he died in 2000.

In March 2011, pro-democracy demonstrations erupted in the southern city of Deraa, inspired by the "Arab Spring" in neighbouring countries. - Why is there a war in Syria?

WikiLeaks Reveals How the US Aggressively Pursued Regime Change in Syria, Igniting a Bloodbath

A December 13, 2006 cable, "Influencing the SARG [Syrian government] in the End of 2006,"1 indicates that, as far back as 2006 - five years before "Arab Spring" protests in Syria - destabilizing the Syrian government was a central motivation of US policy. The author of the cable was William Roebuck, at the time chargé d'affaires at the US embassy in Damascus. The cable outlines strategies for destabilizing the Syrian government.

In his summary of the cable, Roebuck wrote:

We believe Bashar's weaknesses are in how he chooses to react to looming issues, both perceived and real, such as the conflict between economic reform steps (however limited) and entrenched, corrupt forces, the Kurdish question, and the potential threat to the regime from the increasing presence of transiting Islamist extremists. This cable summarizes our assessment of these vulnerabilities and suggests that there may be actions, statements, and signals that the USG can send that will improve the likelihood of such opportunities arising.

This cable suggests that the US goal in December 2006 was to undermine the Syrian government by any available means, and that what mattered was whether US action would help destabilize the government, not what other impacts the action might have. In public the US was in favor of economic reform, but in private the US saw conflict between economic reform and "entrenched, corrupt forces" as an "opportunity." In public, the US was opposed to "Islamist extremists" everywhere; but in private it saw the "potential threat to the regime from the increasing presence of transiting Islamist extremists" as an "opportunity" that the US should take action to try to increase.

Roebuck thus argued that the US should try to destabilize the Syrian government by coordinating more closely with Egypt and Saudi Arabia to fan sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shia, including by the promotion of "exaggerated" fears of Shia proselytizing of Sunnis, and of concern about "the spread of Iranian influence" in Syria in the form of mosque construction and business activity.

By 2014, the sectarian Sunni-Shia character of the civil war in Syria was bemoaned in the United States as an unfortunate development. But in December 2006, the man heading the US embassy in Syria advocated in a cable to the secretary of state and the White House that the US government collaborate with Saudi Arabia and Egypt to promote sectarian conflict in Syria between Sunni and Shia as a means of destabilizing the Syrian government. At that time, no one in the US government could credibly have claimed innocence of the possible implications of such a policy.

This cable was written at the height of the sectarian Sunni-Shia civil war in Iraq, which the US military was unsuccessfully trying to contain. US public disgust with the sectarian civil war in Iraq unleashed by the US invasion had just cost Republicans control of Congress in the November 2006 election. The election result immediately precipitated the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as secretary of defense. No one working for the US government on foreign policy at the time could have been unaware of the implications of promoting Sunni-Shia sectarianism.

Mali: Talking to Jihadists?

"There are also political and legal obstacles to talking with people linked to al-Qaeda. Ag Ghali is on a US terrorist list for a start, which would complicate any potential amnesty deal. Nobody knows what concessions he would seek to extract, how reliable an interlocutor he would be, and how talks might impact on an international coalition that has shed much blood fighting in the north. Domestically, dialogue could also become hostage to Mali’s elections due next year.

But it is "worth a try”, noted well-regarded Sahelian analyst Alex Thurston in a recent blog: “A peace process that makes no room for Ag Ghali is one that will be disrupted, perhaps fatally, by regular jihadist attacks.”


Although they happened at different ends of the stick, it's difficult not to see parallels between the Peace People in Ireland and the Peaceful Arab Springs, with the former an instrument of the British colonial project in Ireland with an Anti-Irish Republican theme, as opposed to being opposed to both sides in the conflict, and the latter a key instrument of the colonial project in Iraq and Syria. As per the William Roebuck cable above, the objective to create destabilization existed five years before the Peaceful Arab Springs. The protesters won in the end, but the protesters are on the same side as Ag Ghali. Go figure.
I do not find the Roebuck cable convincing as evidence, because there was a change of Administration between that and the Syrian Civil War. American policy is not an automaton and it was not programmed in 2011 to obey instructions coded in 2006. The Bush Administration wanted to get rid of Assad and the Iranian mullahs, as much as it wanted rid of Saddam Hussein, and you can be sure a lot of verbiage was written proposing policies to that end.

The Obama Administration supported the Syrian rebels and the rebels would have won, were it not for intervention by Iran, Hezbollah and eventually Russia. General agreement is that Hezbollah militia were decisive in saving the Assad regime.

And, nobody has clean hands in the MIddle East, nor do the external powers that interfere there. As the BBC Correspondent Jeremy Bowen said "The Middle East is a place where awful stuff happens".
 


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