Self-proclaimed Caliphate, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, has become one of the main topics for all the world’s news. Radical Islamists who proclaimed in June the establishment of its own quasi-state, now control more than half of Iraq territory and part of the Syria. The shocking footage of murders of foreign journalists and prisoners from among the Iraqi republican armed forces and police, spread all over the global information space. At the same time, advocates of a “caliphate” does not recognize any international legal standards, nor a diplomatic settlement. “Caliphate has no boundaries – only the front” – they believe.
How could it happen that at the heart of the civilized world, for which fighting against terrorism is the issue number one, has arisen an extreme formation of country-like size?
These events have a long prehistory – the longstanding enmity between the United States and the former ruler of Iraq, Saddam Hussein. The interests of Saddam and the White House have faced in the early 90’s, when Hussein launched a war against Kuwait – one of the world’s largest exporter of oil and the United States partner. These events led to the well-known “Desert Storm”, during which the troops of Saddam were defeated and deported back to Iraq. It seems that everything will end at this stage – Iraq has suffered the damage of such scale that no aggressive plans in the region could be considered. Such a position continued for a long time – the US watched on the Iraqi regime through their fingers, but didn’t try to enter Iraq with the weapon.
Everything changed after September 1, 2001, when in the US began the hysteria caused by the “risk of terrorist attacks.” The newly elected President George W. Bush has shown an unforgivable for the head of the world superpower political short-sightedness, accusing Iraq of having links with international terrorist organization “Al Qaeda.” If Bush and his advisers have carefully studied the history of the region in the last 2-3 decades in general, and the political situation in Iraq, in particular, they would understand that they are preparing to wage a war against one of the main opponent of radical Islamism in the Arab world.
Sure, Saddam was not a champion of humanistic values, he was a dictator, but a military dictator who relied for its power on the army, rather than theologians. In the Islamic world military dictatorship – the eternal antipode of the power of religious leaders. It is severe, sometimes – frankly cruel, but it guarantees the iron discipline in the country, preventing any claims by religious fanatics. Its fall is inevitably entails a strengthening of Islamists, which eventually leads to a bloody massacre. All of this is eloquently confirmed by the examples of Egypt, Libya and Syria, where the overthrow of secular, military oriented dictatorship (or weakening of its position – as in the case of Syria), resulted in a destabilization, economic decline of the country and, as a result, the confrontation of various groups. And if the military in Egypt had finally succeed to overthrow Mursi and his «Muslim brothers» by that accomplished in fact the counter-revolutionary coup, but in Libya and Syria, there is a war, as well as in Iraq. And if the conflicts in Syria and Libya are on the conscience of Barak Obama administration, then the current plight of Iraq – a direct “merit” of dashing Texas cowboy George Walker Bush.
However, a complete disregard for regional particularities and ethno-confessional factors, at least 20 years has been the “hallmark” of the White House, which seems didn’t notice to what the foreign-policy adventures may lead to.
Whatever it was, but the thirst for a “small victorious war” and “victory over global terrorism” has done its job, — in March 20, 2003 the armed forces of the United States and its allies has launched their invasion to Iraq. Absolute superiority in military equipment has done its job: campaign was completed by May. In some cities, the Americans did not encounter any resistance at all – the local Shia population, which was in a subordinate position in the Sunni administration of Saddam, met them with flowers. It would seem the mission is completed successfully – Saddam Hussein’s regime fell. The United States got the opportunity of unprecedented strengthening its position in the region by placing near the hostile Iran the government loyal to themselves. But everything turned out completely different from analytics in Washington believed, celebrating by icy champagne the victory of democracy over the “global evil”.
Napoleon Bonaparte said not in vain that the power is easy to capture with the help of bayonets, but impossible to keep your seat on them. The Corsican genius who seized in due time almost the whole Europe, like no one else understood the vicissitudes of subtle political game.
Quickly and easily seized power in Iraq, the Americans and their allies commit a series of strategic blunders, which later led the country to the brink of death. As already mentioned above, the White House stubbornly refused and does not want to take into account regional specifics. The Americans did not understand or didn’t want to understand that those political and legal institutions, they sought to integrate in the new Iraq, simply will not work. It’s impossible just in few years to teach democracy the people who all their history lived under the rule of kings, shahs, dictators and other Oriental despots. Torn apart by a long-standing confrontation of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, Iraq will never become the 51st state, – even if you build there “McDonalds”.
The first and major blunder that US made in Iraq is that they allowed Shiites to get the power in the country. The matter in fact that under Saddam the whole administration and law enforcement agencies were represented exclusively by Sunni. However, after the change of government, all these people were not just thrown into the street without any further career prospects, but were subjected to harassment and persecution. So, there was formed an entire layer of people, not only antagonistically disposed to the new authorities, but also with extensive military and administrative-command experience, which lacked the new administration. As a result, the country appeared to be in hands of incompetent, but vindictive and corrupt politicians, and the relative stability there was kept by the American military presence. Of course, this artificial state was not viable, and as soon as NATO troops leave Iraq, the new regime began to have serious problems.
The so-called “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” was formed in 2006 after the merger of a number of radical Islamist groups. A considerable part of it consisted of former soldiers and officers from the Saddam’s army, which had no place in the new “democratic” Iraq. It mostly explain the current military successes of ISIL — Islamists have at their disposal a great number of experienced personnel. Initially, the organization was fed by “Al-Qaeda”, which planned to destabilize the region, and later lead the Iraq under the rule of Sunni Salafists. All the years of American presence in the country, the underground Islamic organization was saving its strength and ripening for a decisive blow. In 2009-2010, a series of terrorist attacks were taken, which, on the one hand, was a kind of “reconnaissance in force”, and on the other – a demonstration of force. At the same time, Islamists were imposing a guerilla war to the US servicemen.
Nevertheless, in Washington believed that the new army of Iraq, armed with NATO equipment and weapons will be able to preserve the territorial integrity of the country. The gradual transfer of occupied territories in the hands of Iraqi military ended in 2011. At the same year, in December, American troops were withdrawn from Iraq. The moment, that Islamists have been waiting for had finally come.
First of all, the grown stronger ISIL decided to get rid of the unnecessary trusteeship and “divorced” from “Al-Qaeda”. The occasion for this was the participation of ISIL in civil war in Syria in 2013, while the management of “Al-Qaeda” insisted the group to carry out its activity directly in Iraq. These requirements were ignored, and as a result the terrorist organization №1 has officially distanced itself from its “subsidiary”. However, by then the situation a long ago has overcome the point of no return. Having passed the baptism of fire in big war, the ISIL units became the main world’s sensation, starting a large-scale hostilities in Iraq in the summer of 2014. Immediately were taken the Mosul and Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein. Territories under control of the group, expanded day by day. The new Iraqi army, in which the United States have invested billions of dollars, was absolutely helpless against the Islamists. In all armed clashes Republicans were invariably defeated, ignominiously leaving on the battlefield weapons, ammunition and modern NATO equipment. It is here became apparent the disastrous personnel policy of the United States in Iraq. Replenishing its ranks with new volunteers and quickly mastering the captured weapons, ISIL captured in August, more than half of the country.
Old enemies – the United States and “Al Qaeda” – have made the same miscalculation: absolutely underestimated the group and didn’t discern the true aspirations of its leaders, namely – the recreation of the Sunni Islamic state within the borders of the old Abbasid Caliphate. And in this respect is very symbolical that the head of the group Abdullah Ibrahim al-Samarai took the name of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in honor of the legendary conqueror Abu Bakr, one of the four “righteous caliphs” who lived in the VII century. His power, by the way, extended not only to Mesopotamia, but also to Egypt, North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula.
And now, for some two months, Iraq turned out practically lost. Here, is necessary to say, everyone was struck through. United States hastily stimulates its activity in the region and bomb the Islamists. Germany resolves on unprecedented step and removes the ban on arms supplies to areas of military operations, hurrying to arm the Kurdish rebels. And even Iran does not disdain to act with NATO on one side for a common goal – Elimination of ISIL.
The situation is demonstrative because clearly and in progress shows how political adventures of the United States can be ended. In a blind desire to dictate its conditions to everyone, the White House is absolutely doesn’t estimate to what consequences his actions may lead. As a result, the “crusade against terrorism” has led to a such strengthening of radical Islamic forces in Mesopotamia, Africa and Middle East, which they never dreamed of in the early 2000s. In its turn, Washington got billions of wasted dollars, airplanes loaded by coffins, and public humiliation on the world stage. If Osama Bin Laden would be alive now, he probably would have laughed heartily.