Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Where did ISIS come from?

Once the Middle East specialist As’ad AbuKhalil - who is a professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus - said: “The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan gave us the Taliban. The American occupation of Saudi Arabia gave us bin Laden and Al Qaeda. The Israeli occupation of Lebanon gave us Hezbollah. Let us see what the American occupation of Iraq is going to give us.” 
In his articleNeil Swidey argues that it gave us ISIS/L. And the man who was to catalyze the process of ISIS's birth is Paul Bremer. 
On his fifth day in Baghdad, Bremer issued CPA Order No. 1, “De-Baathification of Iraqi Society,” banning many members of Saddam’s Baath Party from public sector employment. One week after that, he announced CPA Order No. 2, disbanding the entire Iraqi military. It ensnared many Iraqis who had joined the Baath Party not because they were true believers but simply to see their pay goosed or avoid running afoul of Saddam’s goons. This was a dramatic departure from Jay Garner’s plans to keep the bulk of the Iraqi military intact, putting it to work on reconstruction efforts around the country.
According to War correspondent Dexter Filkins, now with The New Yorker, calls Bremer's order “probably the single most catastrophic decision of the American venture in Iraq. In a stroke, the Administration helped enable the creation of the Iraqi insurgency.”
Garner says that with the one-two punch of deBaathification and disbanding the military, “we created half a million angry, armed, unemployed Iraqis in 48 hours. That’s dumb.”
ON MAY 26, 2003, THREE DAYS AFTER BREMER DISBANDED the Iraqi military, and three weeks after President Bush delivered his infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech, a US Army convoy traveled west along the highway to the Baghdad airport. As the Humvee traveled over a canvas bag on the road, there was a massive blast. One of the two soldiers injured in the blast became the war’s first casualty of an improvised explosive device, or IED, the acronym that would become the signature of the Iraqi insurgency.
The rise in IED attacks forced US troops to become more aggressively suspicious of the Iraqi population. That, combined with food shortages and the Coalition Provisional Authority’s inability to provide power and other basic services, began to push fence-sitting Iraqis into the camp opposing the US occupation.
In the fall of 2004, ruthless rebel Abu Musab al-Zarqawi publicly swore his allegiance to Osama bin Laden and rebranded his operation as Al Qaeda in Iraq.
With the coming to power of Nouri Al-Maliki sectarian violence became the norm. After the last American troops left Iraq in 2011, Maliki wasted no time in going on a score-settling sectarian rampage, rooting out Sunnis from the Iraqi government and military.
Suddenly, the Sunni tribal leaders who had fought to neutralize Al Qaeda in Iraq realized that they had unwittingly strengthened the hand of a Shiite prime minister who was determined to freeze them out of power. So when the successor to Al Qaeda in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq, attempted to take back territory in Sunni areas, it faced little resistance.
The new leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, actively recruited former Baathist military officers for his operation. These officers had valuable experience with advanced military equipment, and with smuggling oil and other commodities on the black market. It is now estimated that up to 60 percent of top leadership roles in ISIS are held by ex-Baathists.
Five months after Bremer’s unceremonious exit from Baghdad, George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Like his former boss, he does not believe that the Iraq war was big mistake. He says, “The world would be a much, much more dangerous place if Saddam were still in power. We would have a nuclear Iraq under Saddam.”
To vanquish a tyrant who turned out to be a paper tiger with not a single weapon of mass destruction in his arsenal, the American government had squandered nearly $1 trillion (despite Paul Wolfowitz’s prewar claim that Iraqi oil revenues would cover the entire cost of the war). It also sullied its international reputation and sacrificed the lives of 4,500 of its own, not to mention the hundreds of thousands more Iraqi civilians. 
To read Neil Swidey's article, click here. 

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