What was intended to create a domino effect of democracy concocted by the Bush administration in 2003 has led to widespread destruction, chaos and misery in the Middle East. A few months ago, the erstwhile US Secretary of State admitted that the invasion of Iraq was a big mistake. Too late, Mr Cheney. Any right-thinking person outside the orbit of Mr Bush and the Pentagon hawks like Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld knew it was a terrible mistake to interfere in a foreign state’s internal politics.
The 1990 US and its European allies’ concerted attack on Iraq which took Saddam Hussein by surprise was a big mistake. The disproportionate war waged by rich powerful Western nations against a single country showed how desperate the West becomes whenever its hegemony on the post-colonial world order and its private interests in natural resources are threatened. As Western planes tore across the sky, dark clouds piling up over Baghdad ominously foreshadowed a return of Western imperialism and instability in the region.
Let us not forget the inhuman and immoral embargo on Iraq imposed by the West, and the terrible price the population paid for it in terms of malnutrition, diseases and death. With the blatant lie about Iraq stocking Weapons of Mass Destruction, claimed at the UN by Colin Powell, the US of those days emerged as the Frankenstein of Western imperialism. Saddam Hussein underestimated a salient character trait of Western countries: the capacity for never forgetting defeat and humiliation in their relations with non-Western countries, and taking revenge however long it may take. This is certainly not compatible with the Christian values they purport to uphold. Once a proud and rich nation, Iraq has sunk into deep chaos today. Ethnic strife and religious extremism have taken heavy tolls among the population. Suicide among young Iraqis is on the rise while despair and depression lead widows and mothers to take their own lives.
The collateral damage caused by the Bush team is the introduction of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and recently, its monstrous offshoot, the so-called Islamic State (IS) or Daesh in Syria.
The Arab Spring gave the US and its allies the opportunity to covertly support Syrian rebels against Rogue Number Two on Bush’s ‘Axis of Evil’, Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad. Injured Syrian rebels were given medical treatment in Israel. Had the US not interfered in Syrian politics by backing up rebels, the Syrian ruler would not have bombarded rebel areas mercilessly. Despite ruling over a majority Sunni population, the regime had a fairly tolerant system where all ethnic groups, Christians and Kurds, could live peacefully, by Middle Eastern standards.
A once prosperous Arab country is now in shambles. Western countries lacked the wisdom to foresee that the situation in Iraq, Libya and Syria would spiral out of control. The advent of IS on the stage and its goal to establish the Great Caliphate extending to Asia spearheaded by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, marked the beginning of a war but the world media went on talking about ‘conflicts’. Horror stories of the ISIS killing spree, beheading of foreign hostages, persecution of Christians and Syrian Kurds, cold-blooded extermination of Syrian Shia soldiers, capture and extermination of Yazidi men in Iraq, and endless crime reports keep flowing in.
Would-be Great Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who exhorted obedient young men to submit people to the laws of the virtual caliphate, is said to be wearing ordinary western clothes in his hometown, keeps three wives and has six children. Not much different from the average Arab male in Saudi Arabia. Except that he overtly endorses the capture of women from other faiths and their enslavement as sex slaves, a hellish situation Yazidi women are being trapped into. He and his soldiers have no qualms about justifying their barbaric ideology by quoting from the Scriptures.
US hostage, Kayla Mueller was raped by him. “Convert or die,” he told a Yazidi girl who befriended Kayla in captivity. Yazidis have a different form of worship which Baghdadi considers to be devil worship. The harrowing tale of the Yazidi girl who befriended Kayla in captivity and managed to escape and of Yazidi women killing themselves in captivity are heart-breaking stories that should make anyone realize that the ISIS threat is the number one danger in the Middle East and that it should not be allowed to spread beyond its borders.
World media are strangely keeping mum on Saudi Arabia’s version of shock and awe bombardment of Houthis, a sect of Shias in Yemen ruled by a minority Sunni-led government, recently killing 131 people in a wedding. Houthis rebel against a proposed federate system meant to marginalize them. Note that southern Yemen has started a secessionist movement. It just seems that medias are siding with their respective governments’ positions in the on-going war now that all stakeholders are fully involved in the frontline of the war.
Backed by China, Russia’s comeback as an active player in the anti-ISIS fight is giving nightmares to the US and its allies as Russia makes it clear that Syrian leadership should not be decided by western powers or by the neighbouring Sunni-majority countries, nor by Israel, for that matter.
The Sunni-Shia divide is finally flaring up in a confusing war with Iran supporting Assad while Saudi Arabia is fighting ISIS and supporting Syrian rebels at the same time. Turkey’s tactics as regards ISIS and the Kurds are viewed with suspicion. Israel is getting increasingly nervous.
The West is likely to spend sleepless nights over Russia’s intention in the on-going war. To say the least, the cold war is set to blow hot and cold in the Middle East.
* * *
Meanwhile the tragedy of the endless flow of refugees at the gates of Europe goes on. Mama Merkel is set to receive the Nobel Prize for Peace. Why? For opening her arms to loads of refugees notwithstanding public protests. Mind-blowing reports on refugee camps in Germany show that 30% of them are not Syrians but come from Pakistan and Afghanistan.
An underground business in Turkey is giving fake Syrian passports to anyone dreaming of the European El Dorado. Segregation of Sunni-Shias, persecution of Christians, rape of Muslim and Christian girls and sexual assault on children are rife in refugee camps. Despite warnings against massive intake of refugees, the German government is considering giving permits to thousands of them. Even the Arab Emirates straightforwardly made it clear that refugees would disturb their demographic balance and would lead to further trouble.
The ghosts of the Shoah are still haunting the memory of Germany. But what is done cannot be undone. The intake of millions of Muslims is not going to erase the memory of the extermination of six million Jews. The sense of guilt that haunts European governments after the Shoah and decolonisation is less and less shared by the public. Hence, the increasing opposition to the arrival of migrants in Europe.
In France, leftist intellectuals have been changing their minds about taking in more people from Arab countries on account of cultural divide. Some of them have turned from far-left to far-right. Political correctness invites one and all to see migrants as human beings seeking a better life, and to overlook the fact that they come with their background. This sort of discourse is not getting the response it expected from members of the public, from Holland to Spain. The US has safely closed its doors to new migrants for the past years.
Not only are Western governments wading knee-deep in the mess they created in the Middle East, they also have to face the music at home with their own public over the pressing migrant issue.
- Published in print edition on 9 October 2015