On the day after the Obama administration started bombing the Islamic State (IS – formerly ISIS) in northern Iraq, the Wall St. Journal wrote an editorial on how to defeat them. Among other things, they wrote, “If Mr. Obama finally armed a serious non-Islamist opposition (to Assad) in Syria, he could put pressure on ISIS there too.”
Yes, but the problem is that he has to find such an opposition first.
And that, exactly, defines the crisis that US capitalism is entering. As a US diplomat said in relation to the 2011 crisis in Egypt “We can’t dictate events, we can’t prescribe what’s going to happen.” That should be the motto for US capitalism world wide, and it certainly is true for its role in West Asia/North Africa.
First, they had to accept Nouri al-Maliki as Prime minister of Iraq, despite Maliki’s long time history as a politician who based himself on Shi’ite politics. It should have come as no surprise that al-Maliki suppressed the Sunni minority there, causing a vast divide in the country and opening a space for Sunni communalism.
This opened the way for IS (at that time calling itself ISIS) to win a base of support and enter western Iraq. (See this article for background.) Now they are advancing further. They’ve captured the area around the Mosul Dam, which is a huge problem for several reasons. One is that the dam controls the water supply for much of southern Iraq. Another is that the dam has inherent structural weaknesses that require daily injections of grout into its base or else it will ultimately collapse, sending a sixty foot wall of water down onto Mosul. It is unclear whether this maintenance is going on since IS has seized control.
US capitalism is now arming the Kurdish nationalists to resist IS, but in doing so they are weakening the central government and possibly antagonizing them. They would like to oust Maliki, and as of this date it looks like that might happen. Their problem is that Maliki spent long years fighting Saddam Hussein, traveling from Iran to Syria and back again. He endured much hardship and is no weakling. He is not giving up power easily, and if a struggle develops between him and al Abadi, the chose successor to Maliki, this will strengthen IS.
Everybody admits that air strikes alone will not defeat IS, and already US “advisors” have been sent to Iraq. A major reintroduction of ground troops doesn’t seem likely, though.
As for the other crisis in the region – Israel’s attack on Gaza – it seems this will give them an even freer hand. After all, this new crisis in Iraq has underlined the fact that the only regime in the region that US capitalism can count on is Israel.
Categories: Middle East