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TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.

Civil war?
Who shall inherit Iraq, Al Qaeda or Iran?
Testing a new terror strategy in Iraq
The Iraqis just don't get it. The West just doesn't get it
2005 articles

  • (December 2006) Civil war? The Bush administration is finally coming out of the state of denial in which it has lived for three years and has finally accepted the fact that there is a civil war in Iraq. Let us hope that it will not take three years to realize the new truth about Iraq: that it is becoming a regional war, not just a civil war.
    This regional confrontation is mainly pitting Shiites against Sunnis. The Shiites are mainly defended and sponsored by Iran, which is without any doubt the emerging power of the Middle East. While Israel (the old regional power) keeps losing one battle after the other (its kidnapped soldiers have never been returned), Iran keeps winning, occasionally with the indirect help of the USA itself. The Sunnis are mainly sponsored by Saudi Arabia, that has probably been meddling in Iraq as much as Iran although the USA has never complained. Saudi Arabia has made no mystery that, should the USA withdraw, it would personally intervene to keep Iran out of Iraq.
    This regional war is not limited to the borders with Iraq. The USA fiasco in Iraq has enabled Iran to reassert (directly or via Syria) its position of dominance over Lebanon. If the liberation of Iraq had heralded a democratic and pro-USA future for Lebanon, the post-liberation fiasco is now heralding an Islamic and pro-Iranian future for the country. Iraq and Lebanon were tied together three years ago and still are. Finally, there is Jordan, that has shouldered most of the burden of sheltering hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees. Jordan has virtually no military power but is probably the ideal mediator between the parties, being one of the trusted USA allies.
    The country that seemed to benefit the most from the removal of Saddam Hussein was Israel. Three years later Israel has never looked so weak. Not only its leaders seem pathetically out of touch with reality, but Israel is more isolated than ever. If the invasion of Iraq was meant to isolate Iran, it has utterly failed: Iran has become the regional power, while Israel is shunned by everybody.
    In order to close this regional war and win it, the USA needs to achieve stability in Iraq. The current failure is having a dramatic effect on the region's balance of power, greatly diminishing the power of its allies.
    Splitting Iraq into three or four regions may be the (painful) solution to the problem, the only solution that can prevent a regional war. If Iraq were divided into Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite states, the very fuel of the civil war would cease to exist. Instead of focusing on killing each other, the three ethnic groups would focus on defining their identity within the region. The Kurdish state would certainly be a strong USA and Israeli elly. The Sunni state would become a close Saudi and Jordanian ally, and therefore a reliable USA ally (As ironic as it may sound, today the USA is the only thing that stands between the Shiite militias and the Sunni population). The Shiite state would lose its motivation to fight Sunnis, and start analyzing itself. Few Shiites really want Moktada Al Sadr as their leader. They may side with his anti-Sunni campaign, but they would not support him as their president. The moment the Shiites have their own state, it is likely that the dynamics of their internal politics will change dramatically. The alliance with Iran may not look so interesting anymore, given Iran's aggressive posturing. A Shiite state in Iraq may in fact decide that it can successfully beat Iran at its own game and become the regional power: it has plenty of oil (like Iran) plus, if it wants, it can have the USA on its side (unlike Iran). It would be easier for the USA to nurture three independent allies rather than one united ally. After all, civil war in Yugoslavia ended when the country was partinioned, and Russia's influence on the country ended with the partition. Replace Yugoslavia with Iraq and Russia with Iran and the equation may still hold.
    See also Who shall inherit Iraq, Al Qaeda or Iran?
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (September 2006) Who shall inherit Iraq, Al Qaeda or Iran? The USA's policy is to foster a government of national unity that will restore order in Iraq, and turn Iraq into a prosperous, peaceful democracy, a model for the whole Middle East.
    Unfortunately, the incompetence of the Bush administration has caused this goal to collapse. The chances that it can be salvaged are slim. The number of Iraqis who are killed by insurgents/terrorists increases every month. The number of USA soldiers who are killed in Iraq is roughly stable. There is no sign that the violence is about to die out. In fact, every event that was supposed to quell the violence (Saddam's arrest, the first elections, Zarqawi's death) has had the opposite effect.
    As the situation deteriorates, the various groups that have been wreaking havoc are increasingly dividing along sectarian lines. The Sunni militias are merging with Al Qaeda, if nothing else because Al Qaeda (that is strictly Sunni) is the most effective killer of Shiites. The Shiite militias are moving closer to Iran, if nothing else because Iran is Shiite.
    Should the USA withdraw from Iraq, the civil war would probably become a civil war between Sunni and Shiite militias, that are both committed and ferocious. The army of the government is far less motivated to fight, and many of its soldiers would probably take sides according to their religious group. That would be bad enough. But the Sunni militias would, most likely, end up incorporating the Al Qaeda terrorists. And the Shiite militias would, most likely, be supported by Iran the same way Iran supports Hezbollah. In such a civil war, the USA would have to either choose a side or be left out of Iraq. The choice would be tough, because it would be a choice between Al Qaeda and Iran, the two most uncompromising enemies of the USA.
    Both Al Qaeda and Iran are just waiting. They think that time is on their side.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (March 2006) Testing a new terror strategy in Iraq. Islamic terrorism has proven to be one of the smartest military brains of all time. They adapt quickly. Once defeated on one front, they create a new front. Each front is more ferocious than the previous one, but, precisely because it is more ferocious (and thus more publicized), it attracts even more fanatics and spreads even faster.
    When Khomeini invented suicide bombers (during the war against Saddam Hussein), it was thought to be an aberration that would last only one battle. It spread to Palestine, to New York, to Iraq. And now there are thousands of Muslims lining up to become suicide bombers, even against their own people, apparently just for the fun of blowing themselves up. The more atrocious the crime, the more publicity it gets. The more publicity it gets, the higher the number of people who will view the perpetrator as a hero, and the higher the number of people who will want to imitate him. Thus the multiplication of suicide bombers: not one a year but almost one a day.
    Iraq has become not only a multi-dimensional battleground between democracy and Islam, between elected government and foreign terrorists, and between the USA and the "insurgents" (whoever these might be), but also a testing ground for a new kind of Islamic warfare. The strategy consists in killing randomly people of two religious or ethnic groups (especially women and children), as well as symbolic monuments of each group, until they start killing each other. The point is precisely to commit the most atrocious acts. It is more useful to their cause to kill a woman or a child, and to blow up a mosque, than to kill a minister or a soldier, because the woman, the child and the mosque are more likely to create the emotional reaction that these people desire. There are victims on each side, but each side blames the other side (either for being directly responsible or for not doing enough to stop the terrorists). Sooner or later, they start killing each other. The terrorists merely ignite a mechanical process that eventually runs by itself. Then they can sit out and wait for the chaos to consume the democratic institutions, the economy and eventually the whole country.
    The USA soldiers may soon become irrelevant witnesses to the carnage. Attacks against USA troops are decreasing in number while attacks against Iraqi civilian targets keep increasing. For the terrorists it is now more important to create chaos in the country than kill one or two USA soldiers a day.
    This strategy can be exported anywhere. One can destabilize Pakistan by pitting Shiites against Sunnis. One can destabilize India by pitting Hindus against Muslims. One can destabilize Europe by pitting Muslims against Christians. Blow up a few Hindu temples, and then blow up a few mosques, and then the Hindus and the Muslims of India will start doing what the Shiites and the Sunnis of Iraq are doing. Blow up a Catholic cathedral in Paris and then the main mosque of Paris, and Catholics and Muslims of France will be at each other's throat.
    It only takes two elements: a Muslim community (in 2006 the other religious communities are unlikely to overreact the way Muslims overreact, unless they are first provoked by Muslims) and media that are de facto accomplices in this strategy.
    The terrorists in Iraq are blessed with Al Jazeera as the ideal vehicle to spread hatred. Al Jazeera has been playing a fundamental (and often overlooked) role in creating and supporting the civil war in Iraq. One can say that the terrorists calculate their actions to maximize Al Jazeera's potentiality for inflaming emotions. Al Jazeera has created and orchestrated the "civil war" in Iraq by publicizing (in a very inflamatory way) each an every attack and blaming it on the two factions (the USA carefully always blames it on "foreign fighters"). In a sense, the terrorists would not exist without Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera is a key element in the new strategy of terror: it is the engine that amplifies the signal.
    Alas, each country in the world has media that, willingly or unwillingly, out of stupidity if not of design, provide inflamatory coverage of events, especially when they are related to Muslim communities.
    Thus the two elements needed to trigger the chain reaction of an Iraqi-style civil war between different religious or ethnic group are present in dozens of countries.
    According to standard Darwinian theory, organisms that are suddenly subject to new environmental pressures must evolve or succumb. By invading Afghanistan and Iraq, the USA may have forced Islamic terrorism to evolve, and this could be the next step in its evolution. Blowing up people is an efficient way to create terror, but making people blow up each other is an even more efficient way to create terror. It borders on perpetual motion.
    Can the USA (or anyone else) stop this cancer from spreading? Unfortunately, as every police officer knows, it is terribly difficult to catch criminals who commit senseless crimes, who pick their victims at random. Investigating each killing takes months, but the criminal can strike daily.
    One cannot disarm the Iraqi people either, because now every Iraqi family demands the right to own a gun for protection. In a city as big as Baghdad, one cannot hope to ban all weapons.
    Perhaps the USA could create zones like the ones where they themselves live: fenced zones where people can enter only after a thorough search. As long as they live inside the zone, people are safe. These zones would expand day by day to incorporate larger and larger neighborhoods. Remember the castles and the manors of the Middle Ages?
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (January 2006) The Iraqis just don't get it. The West just doesn't get it. Disillusionment is mounting among those who thought it was possible to bring democracy to an Arab country. The good news is that Iraqis go to vote by the millions, outnumbering even Europeans and USA citizens. The bad news is that they are still voting with the mind of tribal societies.
    First the Sunni Arabs decided that democracy was not good for them so they refused to vote. Needless to say this resulted in a parliament that was dominated by the others, Shiites and Kurds. The Sunni Arabs were disappointed. Duh.
    Then the Sunni Arabs decided to vote, but voted for Sunni Arabs. Since Sunni Arabs are less than 20% of the population, they got less than 20% of the votes. Duh.
    Then the Sunni Arabs decided that this is too small a percentage, as if elections are not about counting votes but about negotiating votes like one negotiates the price of goods at the bazaar. As they were told that votes had been counted by independent organizations that would not change the numbers just to please a minority, Sunni Arabs restarted the "insurgency".
    The other factions do not look much better at this point. Seats in the parliament will be strictly divided along ethnic and religious lines. Basically, more than 90% of Iraqis voted for the representative of their tribe, just like in the Stone Age. Allawi's and other cross-ethnic parties received only a tiny share of the vote.
    The result is, of course, a government of national disunity. The only thing they can possible agree about is that Kurdish leaders will serve Kurdish interests, Shiite leaders will serve Shiite interests and Sunni Arab leaders will serve Sunni Arab interests. Then why not split Iraq into three separate countries? What is the point of forcing people who distrust each other to trust each other? If Iraq had been split from the beginning in three independent states, today two out of three (the Kurdish state in the north and the Shiite state in most of the centre and the south) would be on their way to become peaceful, democratic, safe and prosperous countries. And, most likely, within each of these two states people would start voting according to ideology, not to ethnic and religious affiliation.
    If we want to shift the discussion from ethnic/religious rivalry to politics, splitting Iraq into three separate states seems to be the logical thing to do.
    Once the three states have grown and stabilized, let them decide if they want to enter into an agreement to form a federation and what kind of a federation, just like old enemies such as France and Germany one day decided to get federated in the European Union.
    The borders of Arab countries are an awful legacy of the European colonial powers. It is ridiculous that Arabs themselves want to stick to countries such as Sudan (the biggest oxymoron of all), Iraq and Lebanon that were invented by European powers for the purpose of serving European interests. There is no reason in 2006 to still worship those European dogmas.
    Isn't one Bosnia enough of a mistake to deal with?
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • 2005 articles
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