Next, I want to “be real” (my new mantra) about my current state of mind and say that I’m worried about what’s happening in Iraq and thereabouts. In fact, to be completely honest … I’m scared about what this will mean for us Americans, particularly for our homeland. According to some news reports, even al-Qaeda is uneasy about ISIL’s tactics and goals. (Note: The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is now more commonly referred to as The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).)
Then, I want to say to our so-called allies in the Middle East — specifically, Saudi Arabia and Qatar — “Good luck! I hope you enjoy the fireworks … You certainly paid enough for them!” (Seriously, with friends like them, who needs enemies? We have enough of those!)
Back in March, Reuters reported: “Iraqi PM Maliki says Saudi, Qatar openly funding violence in Anbar.”
On June 14th, The Daily Beast reported that America’s allies are funding ISIS/ISIL.
About that same time, Slate reported “that the Saudis have helped to create a monster they can’t control in Iraq.”
Of course, both Saudi Arabia and Qatar have denied these charges — saying that their governments aren’t supporting the terrorists, that their wealthy citizens are the guilty ones. They’ve promised to stop further donations. They’ve even argued that the bulk of ISIL’s funds have come from a range of criminal activities — like bank heists (reportedly, over $400 million from a bank in northern Iraq), extortion, robberies and smuggling. Saudi and Qatari officials have countered with something like, “Hey, those donations are really just a drop in the bucket, no big deal.” Whatever. The last time Saudi Arabia supported a terrorist organization (al-Qaeda), we got — to put it mildly — caught in the crossfires (9/11).
Bottom line: What’s happening now — ISIL’s mission — is not our fight. It’s not our business. It’s the Arab world’s business. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is hellbent on “righting” the “wrong” done to their ancestors in World War I, when Great Britain’s and France’s Sykes-Picot Agreement basically threw the then-Saudi Arabia ruler under the bus so that the “spoils of war” could be divied up for … oil. Specifically, the oil that was discovered in several areas of today’s Iraq.
Succinctly explained in a Smithsonian.com article from June, “… Valuable portions of the Arab world – greater Syria, Mesopotamia – were carved into British and French imperial spheres. … France was given much of greater Syria – essentially the modern-day borders of that country, along with Lebanon — while the British took possession of the vast swath of the Arab world just below, an expanse stretching from Palestine in the west all the way to Iraq.” If Great Britain had not double-crossed the Arabian ruler, who it had teamed with to thwart the Ottoman (Turkish) rulers, there would have been a totally independent Arab world. Who knows what it would look like today, what the political climate would be?
Today’s Iraq had been — before the Western powers’ agreement was enforced — three distinct semi-autonomous provinces within the Ottoman Empire; these three religious or ethnic groups were Shiite, Sunni and Kurd. With the formation of Iraq, Great Britain set about “civilizing” the locals so that they could eventually govern themselves. Tribal leaders and others in power were ignored, and British civil servants and soldiers were placed in command. Sounds a lot like the U.S. mission of 2003, when after our troops marched in and freed the Iraqis from the cruel reign of Saddam Hussein we stuck around to teach them how to get along and protect themselves from invaders.
Getting involved in their business wasn’t a good idea then (in fact, it was a disaster), and it’s not a good idea now. Stepping back from foreign affairs, such as this one and in Ukraine, is supported by nearly half the country — regardless of political party lines. And, it’s not an isolationist movement … It’s a non-interventionist movement that protects our country’s best interests at home. It’s a refusal to be bullied into intervention by neo-conservatives and liberal hawks who say the U.S. will appear weak and lose respect.
Lose whose respect? The respect of “our friends” in the Middle East? I say we need to have more respect for ourselves and find better friends.
Note: For a different and more in-depth perspective on behind-the-scenes maneuverings in the Middle East, read Stratfor‘s “The Intrigue Lying Behind Iraq’s Jihadist Uprising.” Stratfor is a geopolitical intelligence firm that provides strategic analysis and forecasting to individuals and organizations around the world.