As many people already believe, the violence in Iraq will not subside any time soon. In fact it will only get worse. And in recent days it has.
This most recent stage in the 1,400 war to spread Islam (as well as of the war between Sunni and Shia Muslims) is occurring in the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Tikrit. These two major cities has just been taken over by Islamic jihadists.
Up to 500,000 people have fled Mosul.
And just to get a scale of the violence in Iraq, up to 800 people (including 603 civilians) were killed in May alone. (That’s more than the civilians who’ve been killed by US “drone attacks” – in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia – in the entire period of 2002 to 2014.)
One escapee from the Islamic jihadists told Reuters:
“They told us not to be scared and that they came to liberate and free us from oppression. We are frightened because we don’t know who they are.”So the Islamic jihadists, of the fighting force called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), are fighting against “oppression”. In other words, they are fighting against the oppression that is not being allowed to live in an full Islamic state with complete sharia law. (It must also be strange to be liberated by people when you “don’t know who they are”.)
These Islamic jihadists (ISIS) don’t have much Islamic brotherly love for their fellow Muslims either. They’ve already taken 50 Turkish hostages – all workers at the Turkish Consulate in Mosul. Indeed Turkey’s foreign minister has warned that there will be “harsh retaliation” if any Turkish citizens are harmed in any way.
ISIS explained its actions on Twitter (is Twitter halal?) when it said that it would “not stop this series of blessed invasions” until a (Sunni) Islamic state is created.
The Shia Iraq Prime Minister, Nouri Maliki, has vowed to fight back against the Sunni jihadists.
ISIS’s main grievance (apart from the fact that Iraq is not a full – Sunni - Islamic state with complete sharia law) is that the PM, Nouri Maliki, is monopolising power. That is probably the case. After all, the Shia population of Iraq were denied political power by the Sunni Muslim Saddam Hussein for over 24 years years. (He ruled that country from 1979 to 2003; though he had considerable power since the early 1970s.)
ISIS itself (also known as ISIL) is an offshoot of al-Qaeda: an organisation which is also very active in Syria at present. The north-west of Iraq joins the south-east of Syria. (Mosul itself is close to the Syrian border; though Tikrit is more central.) This shows us how dangerous this situation is.
ISIS is actually a relatively small fighting-force. It has between 3,000 and 5,000 fighters.
“Islamist militants”, as they’re often called, are of course also doing their stuff in Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Sudan, Algeria, Egypt, southern Thailand, the Philippines, parts of China, Syria… Basically, wherever there are large numbers of Muslims - and sometimes even when there are small numbers - there is jihadist violence.
Interestingly enough, Tikrit (which was taken on Tuesday) was Saddam Hussein’s hometown. And since we are on the subject of Saddam Hussein, many Western Leftists and Muslims of course blame the West for all the violence in Iraq. That’s despite the fact that the last American troops pulled out three years ago – in 2011. (Most US troops had actually pulled out in 2009.) What they don’t tell is that this religious or Islamic violence was only kept in check precisely because of Saddam’s dictatorial regime – a regime which annihilated up to one million (that is, outside war) of its own people between 1979 and 2003. That’s why there wasn’t the religious and ethnic strife we see today; as well as what we’ve seen since Saddam was deposed and killed in 2003.
In fact even during Saddam’s regime there was low-level violence; as well as the subjugation of the Kurds and Shia (mainly in the south). Nonetheless, Saddam dealt with these internal conflicts with massive violence.
Many Muslims blame the West for “splitting up” either the “Muslim world” or the “Arab world” into what they call “artificial states”; which were, they say, tailor-made to “suit Western interests”. What these Muslims would have preferred is the Wahhabi plan of the 1920s (as well as before) to unite of all Arabia and the surrounding Arab states (or at least Transjordan, Iraq and Kuwait) into a single Islamic ummah under a single caliphate. The alternative to that would have been a recreation of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire after World War One (despite the Turkish defeat in that war). Yet the designs of the Arabs in Arabia and in other Arab areas were always at odds with that of the Ottoman “hegemony”. (Hizb ut-Tahrir, an international Islamic group, supports what the Ottoman Empire did and stood for and even wants to resurrect it – though not necessarily under Turkish control.) Indeed the Ottoman/Turkish hegemony was the main reason why, for example, the Sharif of Mecca (Hussein bin Ali) wanted to create his own larger Arab ummah and caliphate.
But neither an Arabian/Arab nor an Ottoman caliphate or ummah would have worked. That supposed artificial splitting of Arab areas was the best that could have been done at the time because there was – and never has been – a hidden or repressed Arab or Middle-Eastern unity (as Iraq today shows). For example, in Iraq, Sunnis are fighting Shia, Kurds are fighting Sunnis, and both Sunnis and Shia have effectively ethnically cleansed the whole of Iraq of all Jews and nearly all Christians.
Outside Iraq, this Sunni-Shia war is replicated in Syria; as well as in Oman, Bahrain, Yemen and the eastern borders of Iran (which border both Pakistan and Afghanistan).
The dream of a united Arab Middle East, and even less feasibly, of a united Islamic Middle East, is just a stick to beat the West. The idea is either fantastically naïve or a deliberate deceit. Interestingly enough, that deceit is mainly upheld by Western Muslims; rather than by the majority of Muslims who actually live in the Middle East.