Iraq: The American Unprotected Protectorate
The announcement made by General Martin Dempsey, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on November 15 that “the U.S. mission [in Iraq takes] . . . several years” should not be dismissed as mere American fantasy. The destruction of Iraq in 1991 and the subsequent invasion in 2003 was viewed by the Washington elite as a turning point in transforming the region into a chaotic and anarchic state where Arabs are kept in constant turmoil and there is perpetual infighting.
Indeed, the invasion of 2003 gavethe Washington elite an opportunity to incapacitate the most promising Arab country, economically and militarily, and to put in power incompetent individuals who are neither patriots nor decent individuals. Three objectives were sought. The first two were: fragmenting the country and using it as a staging ground to attack Iran and destabilize Syria. In case the second objectivewas not adequately met, then creating turmoil in Iraq along with fragmentation of the country becamethe preferred goal.
These objectives were set by the neoconservatives long before the invasion. In fact, despite President W. Bush’s naïve belief that Iraq would be transferred into an exemplary and healthy state, the neoconservatives in his administration and those in the Obama administration have deliberately sought to undermineand weakenIraq. This thinking has become the guiding principle for almost all the elite in Washington who blindly follow the neoconservatives’ precepts.
While almost all the new politicians in Iraq are submissive to the occupying power, former Prime-Minister, Nuri Al-Maliki, in his second term, was under pressure from the religious authority and the majority of ordinary Iraqis to end the presence of foreign troops on Iraqi soil and to establish friendly relations with neighboring countries, Iran and Syria. Though the relationship between the religious authority and the occupying power couldonly be described as unfriendly, the Washington elites could not imagine that Al-Maliki would jeopardize his political future by listening to directives from the fragile and ailingSyed Ali Al Sistani,the highest religious authority.
At the time, the occupying power treated the pronouncement by Al Sistani and the move by Nuri Al-Maliki as an immediate threat to its design for Iraq and the region. This made the implementation of the third objective attractive and urgent. It is no wonder that Washington has initiated several strategies to obstruct the aims of the religious authority and the majority of Iraqi citizens to gain full independence for Iraq and build a healthy country.
These strategies have military, social, political, and economic dimensions. Indeed, these strategies are aimed at recolonizing the country and hinderingit from functioning adequately. The military strategy seeks to fragment Iraqi military institutions and to place them under direct control of foreign emissaries. Though Washington delays delivery of weapons bought by Iraq (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 11, 2014), it has provided heavy weapons to an ethnic warlord to the detriment of the Iraqi sovereignty and the stability of the country.
Furthermore, Washington,until recently,has not wanted the Iraqi government to bomb cities controlled by ISIS since last year,under the guise that it will fuel sectarian division. Moreover, the U.S has been collecting information on ISIS and its movementsince 2013. Such information was not shared with the Iraqi government. The Wall Street Journal (August 25) reported, “The U.S. has been flying drones and other surveillance aircraft along the Iraqi-Syrian border since late last year.”
Socially, the Occupational Authority has forced Iraqis to declare their sectarian affiliation,so as to dramatically change Iraq’s social fabric and proud patriotic and national identity. Indeed, sectarianism was an alien concept that was vehemently rejected by Iraqis for decades. However, since the invasion in 2003, policymakers in Washington have been forceful in promoting sectarian division.
In fact, in his recent visit to Baghdad, General Dempsey repeated the neoconservatives’ talking points stating that the Iraqi “military force could not root out the Islamic State unless Iraq's government manages to work across the Sunni-Shi'ite divide.” Since most of the military officers that Dempsey met in Bagdad, including the defense minister and the military chief of staff are not from the majority Islamic sect in Iraq and were literally, along with ministers, approved by the American Embassy in Baghdad, this calls into question Dempsey’s motives in promoting sectarianism and his ability to exercise sound judgment.
Politically, not only has the Occupational Authority brought to power corrupt individuals with no commitment to building a vital political entity,it has also fragmented the country. The American Ambassador to Iraq, according to the New Yorker (December, 2005), dictated a constitution that enabled the ethnic minority, the Kurds, to get “everything they wanted: control of their oil, supremacy of Kurdish law over Iraqi law, and their own army, as well as limitation on the power of the central government.” Furthermore, the Washington policy makers have routinely referred to the ethnic minority as separate from Iraq. The Department of Defense news (Nov. 15), for example, stated that General Dempsey “spoke to Iraqi and Kurdish leaders.”
This policy of fragmenting the country and weakening the central government has also been adopted by the Obama Administration. In fact, an aide to Dempsey (Reuters, Nov. 15) stated that the “The goal is to create a bridging force of thousands of Sunni tribesmen before Iraq's Shi'ite-led government creates a "National Guard", decentralizing power from Baghdad.” Decentralization and weakening the center has been enthusiastically pushed by Vice President Biden and dictated by Secretary of State John Kerry to the Iraqi Prime-Minster, Abadi.
The economic strategy was initiated early by Paul Bremer who let foreigners float the Iraqi market with manufacturing and agricultural commodities without imposing any customs on import. This strategy has helped in the destruction of Iraqi industries and agriculture, leaving many families out of work. In addition, he prohibited Iraqi farmers from using their own seeds that had been used for thousands of years. In the context of energy, unlike the Bush administration, the Obama administration has forced corrupt Iraqi politicians toaccept an oil law that mortgages the energy sector to the wishes of an ethnic warlord in Erbil and foreign corporations.
Before the invasion, terrorism was uncommon. Since the invasion, terrorists roam the country freely, slaughtering people and spreading destruction at will. The Global Terrorism Index 2014reported that “Iraqis the country most impacted by terrorism; last year there were 2,492 terrorist attacks in Iraq.” This has taken place despite President Obama’s assertion on 60 Minutes (Sept. 28) that Iraq is “a country with whom we have a security partnership.” The administration ignores the fact that countries such as Qatar and Turkey have facilitated and or supported terrorism in Iraq.
In addition, whenterrorists approached the gates of Bagdad and took control over several cities north and west of the capital, Washington showed strong opposition to the call by Syed Al Sistani to form volunteer fighters to protect cities and people, irrespective of their religious or ethnic identities. After these popular volunteers managed to pushthe terrorists out of the major cities, Washington put pressure on the Iraqi government to disband the fighters.
There are some experts who think that Washington’s determination to fragment or divide Iraq and its relentless push to weaken its institutions is aimed at erasing the memory of Iraqis and altering the history of the country, so Iraqis have no clear vision of the magnitude of the crimes which have been committed against them. In reality, the aim is much broader than that. The recolonization of Iraq, using Orwellian terminology, is meant to crush Iraq down to the point where it has no future.
The architects of the invasion and destruction of Iraq have deliberately sought to transform the country unto an entity that is incapable of functioning on its own and where its people are deprived of integrity, pride, and courage. Those individuals have successfully transformed this vision into a policy direction so neither a Democratic or Republican administration will deviate from it. This is a threat to the principles upon which the U.S. was founded. Abbas J. Ali is a Professor of Management and Director of the School of International Management, Eberly College of Business and IT, Indiana University of Pennsylvania.