ANALYSIS – Is the threat from ISIS is as awful as news coverage here suggests then the break up of Iraq would appear to be a forgone conclusion should the deeply unpopular government of Nouri al Maliki be unable to wrestle back the initiative from the advancing rebels.
Of course, the credibility of news reporting here has taken a hit for its coverage of Iraq and later Syria – when you fail to take into account the views of other players on the scene, namely China and Russia, then you leave yourself open to the accusation of running propaganda.
So, it’s difficult to know what to make of this Islamic state in Iraq and the Levant, who are reported to be some 16, 000 strong, who are an off shoot of Al Qaeda – murderers who justify killing by claiming to be fighting in the path of Islam – and who are currently engaged in heavy fighting for the largest oil refinery in Baiji and the airport at Tal Afar.
Already during their advance the militants have taken Kirkuk, as well as Salahuddin – perhaps of symbolic significance for being Saddam Hussein’s birthplace – as well as threatening the gates of Baghdad.
Where there has been fighting Iraq’s army has simply melted away rather than fight for a Baghdad government that has pursued sectarian policies, that is widely seen as corrupt, and that is frankly little more than a puppet government held up by the facade of a democratic election.
The fact that Washington called for the resignation of Nouri al Maliki as a response to his request for air strikes only highlights the role that the ‘Shia’ government is expected to play by a superpower that changed the status quo to meet its own strategic interests.
Iraq’s constitution was drawn up to cement the break up of the country along sectarian lines with ‘Kurdish north’ functioning as an autonomous state, and it is significant that Kurdish peshmerga fighters who were the bane of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq quickly moved into the breach left at Mosul, perhaps with some help from Israel who have been training Kurdish fighters in the expectation of a break up of a large and very annoying neighbour.
Perhaps, signicantly, Ayatollah Sistani who is listened to here when he fits in with the line broadcast on our television screens hasn’t called for a defence of the homeland against these ‘Sunni extremists,’ instead he’s called on Nouri al Maliki to be more inclusive, for he like every Iraqi is not interested in the break up of Iraq and perhaps like most Iraqis also fears the interference of Shia Iran with whom his country fought a ten year long war and with whom Washington is currently working with to ‘stabilise’ the situation.
There were many who were predicting the creation of an Islamist state once the Americans departed from Iraq. And that could be happening now as the ‘puppet’ government is brushed aside by rebels who are meeting little resistance on their way to Baghdad. Should of course the battle become sectarian in the sense of a battle between Sunnis and Shias then a break up is inevitable.
For the moment though, that hasn’t happened.