Washington’s assistance to the Iraqi government is exclusionary.
With the consent of, and quite often with direct support from, Washington and its Western and regional partners, international terrorism is spreading across the globe, posing an increasing threat for the humankind. Along with the terrorist organizations like al-Qaida and the Taliban movement, previously nurtured by CIA, the Pentagon and the State Department, new and large military forces of radical Islamists appear.
In the summer of 2014, the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” asserted itself, an organization tracing its origins to al-Qaida. Until recently, Islamic State militants controlled only a part of Syrian territory and carried out nonintegrated military operations in the border area of Lebanon and Iraq. However, in July and August of this year, Islamic State military forces, taking advantage of Sunni Arabs' uprising against the central government, invaded Iraq, defeated a number of mechanized divisions of government forces, and occupied about one-third of the country, threatening to invade Baghdad. The Islamic State was joined by the local Sunni military-political groups, consisting of servicemen, Baathists, representatives of law enforcement agencies during the Hussein regime, and several thousand released political prisoners and convicts. As a trophy, they received the latest models of American heavy weapons recently delivered to Iraq (howitzers, ATGMs, MANPADs, tanks, armored cars). It is reported that the militants got hold of a Soviet-manufactured ballistic missile R-17 in Syria, 40 kilograms of radioactive materials, and some components for chemical weapons production — in Iraq.
The Islamic State’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared a new state on the occupied territory of Syria and Iraq — an Islamic caliphate, with all its attributes (Muslim law, forced Islamization, killing of captives, unbelievers and dissidents). It has stated its intention to keep expanding the caliphate borders, first of all by incorporating other Syrian and Iraqi territories and also by invading Lebanon and Kuwait. Clashes are already taking place between Islamic State military units with Lebanese security forces and the Shiite organization Hezbollah in the Syrian-Lebanese border region. The total number of the armed units of the caliphate reaches 100,000 militants.
How has a new monstrous terrorist organization emerged in the region? First of all, the Islamic State is provided with unlimited financial, material and military assistance by Qatar and Wahhabi-Salafiyah organizations from the Gulf States. Even though other sponsors of the Syrian opposition (Saudi Arabia and Turkey) lent support to the militants of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), “Jabhat al-Nusra” and other Islamist forces, their “team” also turned out to belong to Islamic State military forces or work closely with them.
Secondly, the seizing of oil fields and oil processing plants in Syria and Iraq, part of the strategic pipeline Kirk-Jeihan, petroleum, oil and lubricants (POL) depots, having control of one of the biggest in the region hydro power plant (HPP) that provides Iraq with electricity, as well as the dam, which supplies water to the central region of Iraq, gave the IS militants an opportunity to satisfy not only their own needs in POLs, electricity and water, but also successfully trade in these strategic resources. Moreover, the Islamic State doesn’t stop at arms and drug trafficking, kidnapping, currency counterfeiting, smuggling of ancient artifacts stolen from museums, racketeering and plundering the border ports of entry and security road blocks. Today the Islamic State is one of the richest terrorist organizations, with the yearly budget of several million dollars.
Finally, Washington turns a blind eye to the downsides of another onset of radical Islamists because the Islamic State is leading the anti-Bashar al-Assad fight. It is no surprise that the arms supplied by Americans to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Iraq and the Free Syrian Army end up in the hands of terrorists. The U.S. administration expects to use the Islamic State and similar terrorist groups to overturn Assad and isolate Iran and pro-Iranian Shiite communities of the region, first of all Hezbollah in Lebanon. Even the assistance Obama promised to provide to the Iraqi government is reduced to accelerating protection of the American foreign establishments, carrying out localized air strikes of gun stations posing a threat to American citizens, and delivering humanitarian aid to the refugees (mostly for Kurdish, Yazidi and Christian Arabs) in the mountain regions.
Unfortunately, history doesn’t teach a lesson to the strategists from overseas who keep falling into the same trap. Following al-Qaida, they triggered the creation of the Islamic State. It is clear that the caliphate will not stay within the limits outlined by their sponsors. Tens of thousands of militants, among which are citizens of U.S., EU and Commonwealth of Independent States countries, the Asia-Pacific and other regions, sooner or later will come back to their places of residency and continue the jihad (a holy war against unbelievers) already there. The instantaneous policy of double standards and separating terrorists into useful and not-useful (insiders and outsiders), implemented by Washington and Brussels across the board, escalates the threat of international terrorism in the entire world. Let’s not forget that the terrorists go beyond traditional methods and conventional weaponry. Today they are quite close to possessing weapons of mass destruction; they conduct cyber warfare and use the latest scientific and technical achievements.
Stanislav Mikhailovich Ivanov is a candidate of historical sciences and leading research fellow of the Center of International Security of Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences.