The Liquor Story

Counter-revolution is the context, not revolution. Something is becoming more apparent in the Middle East. That counter-revolution can cross borders easily is a fact of life in today’s Middle East. Communists, however, continue to stick to the principle that revolution cannot be exported. So Soviet Russia didn’t export revolution. Nor did China. But what the people across the world are witnessing with a sense of helplessness is how counter-revolution is rolling back popular consciousness of mass upsurge symbolised through the Arab Spring, only a few years back. Whenever counter-revolution in the Middle East raises its head, it begins looking in the direction of Iraq. In a grim historic irony religious minorities in Iraq find themselves in a similar historic situation to Europe’s Jews in the 1930s.

Arab Spring is now a thing of academic interest, it no longer influences the events in today’s most dangerous flash-point—Iraq-Syria. Now the genocidal counter-revolution waged by the self-styled Islamic State (IS) has cut through all ideological illusions. They are the forces of reaction, promoting naked criminality, brutality and retrogression in Iraqi society.

No doubt IS crossing from Syria into northern and central Iraq is getting enough wide world-wide currency because of its medieval atrocities from mass shootings and beheading to systematic kidpnappings and rapes of women. So far they have beheaded three of their captives—two American journalists and one British aid-worker. They promise to behead more westeners in the coming weeks. In history they will go down as the head-hunters of Iraq in the 21st century.

In truth IS resorted to such barbarism when they carried out their jihad against revolutionaries who were fighting the autocratic rule of Assad in Syria. America and its western allies simply ignored it while utilising and assuming it to destabilise the Assad regime. The regime change was their target and IS was their ally doing the proxy war for them. In essence IS is the creation of America as they created Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The monster is not in their control any more. Nor can they destroy it completely through conventional wars, including bone-chilling air raids.

For one thing the destabilisation game in Syria continues as too many militant groups besides the IS are in action there, choking the life and economy of Syria. Perhaps the last outpost of secularism and religious tolerance in the Middle East will vanish with the ouster of Assad. Saddam was a dictator, no doubt, but under his rule religious minorities like Christians and tribals practising a faith with pre-islamic roots as the Yazidi people do, enjoyed secular rights. Iraq is now a dangerous place for religious minorities. And Syria will follow suit if the present dispensation goes.

For America and its Iraqi clients the moot question at the moment is how to save Baghdad and its sprawling military facilities from being over-run by the IS fighters. Obama and his friends are trying to rope in the Arab League to have their adventure—or yet another midadventure in Iraq get officially supported. Given the present level of American public opinion in favour of war, it is unlikely for Obama, to commit foot soldiers to combat IS jihadists. While token presence of American troops will be exclusively for protecting American interests and personnel, Kurds and Shia militias will do the dirty war for the Uncle Sam. And as usual petro-dollars will foot the war-bill as it was the case during Bush’s Iraq campaign. Surprisingly 22-member Arab League doesn’t see eye to eye with Obama to destroy the Islamic State group. Nor does Turkey, the controversial NATO member, want to see Kurds winning war against the IS. They are against direct American intervention. They are more interested in engaing UN, not US, to dislodge IS from the large swaths of territories of Iraq and Syria that they have seized, virtually forcing the rag tag Iraqi soldiers to flee in panic.

Iraq faces an unprecedented crisis and Obama wants to do ‘Bush’ without committing US ‘boots on the ground’. Whether Kurdish peshmerga forces equipped with Saddam-era light weapons and Shia militias backed by Iran can thwart the advance of IS is anybody’s guess.

The hard fact is that IS still has some sympathisers, notwithstanding its medieval barbarity. They are being given credit for fighting imperialism 100 years later, because the map of the proposed caliphate rips up the arbitrary borders that imperial powers in World War I drew to carve up the Ottoman empire. It’s not that easy to wipe out the sense of wounded pride as it is manifested in the resurrection of the very idea of caliphate. If IS succeeds in re-drawing the boundaries of their dream-land—caliphate—the possibility of it seems bleak if America with its coalition partners goes to a full-scale war, a new cycle of violence and counter-violence will grip the Middle East.

Most middle east rulers, leaders are hypocrites and keep shedding crocodile tears for the people. In the name of democracy and humanity, hypocrisy of the worst types is advocated in the region. The US geo-strategic plan aims at fomenting social, ethnic and factional divisions and political fragmentation, including territorial break-up in Asia. Their political cause of action in relation to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, and now Iraq is dictated by American military-industrial complex.

As things are Obama has no option but to go to war in the Middle East. His plan as envisaged in the speech of September 10, 2014, just on the eve of the ‘9/11 anniversary’, took some time because of slow maturity of American public opinion in favour of direct or indirect intervention. Obama who came to power by opposing Bush’s war, is going to leave American presidency by registering himself as yet another merchant of war with ‘moderate’ overtones.

Vol. 47, No. 15, Oct 19 - 25, 2014