Too much analysis brings paralysis

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By : Linda S. Heard

The self-ascribed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has swept through northern Iraq like a bulldozer on speed and is currently just 60 kilometers from the capital Baghdad. Moreover, it has captured the Al-Qaim crossing permitting the group an unfettered access to its cohorts in Syria. And what is the international community doing in the face of Iraq’s imminent collapse? Precisely nothing!

Or should we be sighing with relief knowing that 300 non-combatant military advisers were sent by President Obama to come to Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki’s aid?

Obama appears to be in his usual state of paralysis, the same paralysis he displayed with great fanfare vis-à-vis the Syrian conflict. He’s in a real bind. Firstly, he can’t be seen bombing Sunni areas on behalf of a Shiite government, especially when the US has staunchly backed the predominately Sunni opposition in Syria against its Shiite regime.
Secondly, the American public is war weary, which is, no doubt, why the US corporate media is hyping concerns that “the terrorists” in Iraq present a real and present danger to the US mainland while crying over America’s wasted trillions of dollars expenditure and lost American lives, willfully forgetting that the lives of up to a million Iraqis were cut short. All Obama can do at this juncture is press the premier to be “inclusive” but that’s akin to shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.

The fact is that Al-Maliki isn’t part of the solution. His sectarian style of governance has alienated not only Sunnis and Kurds but also some Shiites. He failed to read the writing on the wall, he ignored the complaints of Sunnis in the province of Anbar who rightly felt neglected and marginalized and now that his failed policies have come home to roost, he’s screaming to Uncle Sam to magic away the mess he created.

But Uncle Obama has no magic potions up his sleeve. Can anyone say with hand on heart that US-led interventions in Libya and Syria or its diplomatic wrangling over the Ukraine-Russia spat have delivered improvements? Al-Maliki rode to power on an American horse, which pushed the Sunnis and other minorities aside — and now Obama wants America’s Shiite prodigy, who thrust Iraq firmly into Iran’s sphere of influence, gone. Ironically, the White House is tempted to cook-up a deal with its archenemy Iran to do the dirty work, which, if happened, would raise heckles throughout the Sunni Arab World. Indeed, since Iraq is an Arab country, in principle, it’s the responsibility of Arab countries to sort this out, but with the region in disarray, the only effective Arab military is Egypt’s that has more than enough on its plate as it is.

It’s been reported that Iran is ready to go once the US gives a green light. However, the Iranian position is far from transparent. On Monday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned the US against intervening in Iraq and is quoted as telling officials that Washington’s aim is to reassert control over the country and fill Cabinet positions with American stooges.

But getting Iraq’s democratically-elected PM to step-down is no easy task for a superpower that’s been punishing Egypt and Thailand for forcibly ousting unpopular leaderships touting “America’s values” — and besides, Al-Maliki does — or rather did until this crisis erupted — retain a substantial following. He’s waved aside US appeals to reach out to Sunnis for years. Evidencing his sectarian mindset was his call to Shiite volunteers and militias to prop-up Iraq’s army that’s doing more retreating than fighting.

Sunni tribes, which in 2008 joined forces with the army to send Al-Qaeda packing, are either remaining on the sidelines or actively engaged with ISIL, remnants of Saddam’s army and former Baathists — whose relationship is based on the “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.” Tribal heads are in no mood to help the Shiite-dominated government, which has let them down time and time again; some have indicated a willingness to reconsider in the event of Al-Maliki’s departure.

Televised reports indicate that ISIL fighters are receiving a warm welcome in Mosul where they’re being kissed by children and bombarded with chocolates by a grateful population, but that love affair is likely to be extremely short-lived judging from ISIL’s brutal actions in Syria. This is déjà vu. Anti-government rebels in Syria, as well as the Free Syrian Army, initially fought alongside ISIL but backed away when the group began torturing, crucifying those refusing to toe the line and chopping off heads

Shiites have heeded the call in substantial numbers; they’ve been using their own money to purchase military uniforms but without training and suitable weapons, all they have is their fervor to protect their areas. Some 50,000 members of the Mahdi Army retrieved their stored uniforms and weapons to parade through the capital’s eastern neighborhood Sadr City, bringing fear to the hearts of Baghdad’s Sunnis. However, it’s notable that the influential Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, who has until now eschewed involvement in politics, has called for a new government that “can open new horizons toward a better future for all Iraqis.”

So, in the absence of viable solutions, ISIL, that has an estimated $2 billion war chest and filched “made in the USA” heavy weapons, has free rein to do its worst. With Jordan also in its sights all those involved must put their heads together to halt this terrorist takeover while keeping in mind that too much analysis brings paralysis. Lives and the sovereignty of nations are at stake.

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