ISIS: the plan to remake Syria and Iraq

Developing Just Leadership

Ayesha Alam

Dhu al-Qa'dah 06, 1435 2014-09-01


by Ayesha Alam (Opinion, Crescent International Vol. 43, No. 7, Dhu al-Qa'dah, 1435)

The group, ISIS has nothing to do with Islam. It has been cobbled together the US and its Nato and regional allies to redraw the map of the Middle East starting with Syria and Iraq.

The gruesome video showing the beheading of US journalist James Foley at the hands of ISIS has set afire the US media, accomplishing what the genocide of hundreds of thousands of Syrians and Iraqis could not. The American public is outraged, at last. The major news outlets such as CNN, ABC, FOX News, and major newspapers are in overdrive spewing the Pentagon’s talking points into the public. This is not hot air; the image-making and public emotions are tied to re-shaping the new Muslim East.

Let us consider a sample. “They’re beyond just a terrorist group,” US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said. “This is beyond anything that we’ve seen. So we must prepare for everything.” Secretary of State John Kerry stylistically dubbed ISIS an “inexplicable, nihilistic, and valueless evil.”

A CNN news story on ISIS neatly ties together ISIS with American memories of Osama bin Laden and Shari‘ah law — hysteria percolating domestically in the US with ISIS. Introducing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the thuggish leader of ISIS, Anderson Cooper dubs him “more dangerous than Osama bin Laden.” Cooper then felicitously mentions that al-Baghdadi (real name Samarrai) is a descendent of the Prophet of Islam (pbuh), and that ISIS wishes to impose “Shari‘ah law” and hold public floggings: medieval Islam redux, indeed.

We need to look at history. The ISIS conflagration is an intensification of the “Taliban strategy” that the US first implemented in Central America in the 1970s, and then perfected in Afghanistan in the 1980s and onwards. This strategy is the creation of death squads funded and armed by the CIA that are let loose to terrorize local populations and destabilize the country, allowing it to drop in the colonizer’s hands as a fruit ripe for plucking.

As news outlets like Antiwar reveal, ISIS has allowed the US government to re-sell war to an exhausted, war-weary American public. In an August 21 article for, Jason Ditz wrote, “President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry have already laid out the case yesterday that they are going to ‘crush’ ISIS militarily, which would involve a broad, open-ended war in both Iraq and Syria.” He notes that while most officials are not admitting to this publicly, there is a desire to lay the groundwork for the eventual military escalations.

James Foley’s tragic death and the resulting media hysteria around ISIS also rather neatly accomplish another goal. It distracts attention away from another tragic death

James Foley’s tragic death and the resulting media hysteria around ISIS also rather neatly accomplish another goal. It distracts attention away from another tragic death — the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, at the hands of a heavily armed white cop. As America watched aghast the spectacle of a militarized police force treating protesting US citizens with guns, clubs, and tear gas, images of Ferguson blurred with those of Israel’s genocide in Gaza. The result was a wave of social protest at the destruction of constitutional civil liberties that swept into public discourse. However, ISIS and the media’s replayed “Muslim card” buried that sentiment, pumping fear to ramp up support for the same “War on Terror” policies that have resulted in Michael Brown’s untimely death at home.

Fear now prevails over a vast, global geography. ISIS by itself has taken control of territory spanning Syria and Iraq, including several important city centers. An August 21 Fox News report fanned fear about ISIS hijacking the international economy by its victories over the Iraqi oilfields. The news story correctly pointed out that ISIS now controls seven oil fields and two small refineries in northern Iraq, bringing in as much as $2 million per day by selling up to 40,000 barrels via middlemen on the black market. However, it added that a quote by Denise Natali, Research Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies, saying, “Unless we choke this organization’s revenues, and the areas it’s able to access revenues, it’s going to keep growing.”

As a matter of fact, a number of articles have pointed out, the money-trail for ISIS leads back to Saudi Arabia and the sheikhdoms on the western shores of the Persian Gulf, that are again providing the funds and the training to re-equip this death squad for mass murder. Saudi oil fields supported the Taliban-al-Qaeda killing fields in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but ISIS has one-upped their predecessors. The capture of Mosul and other oil-rich towns in eastern Iraq have made them self-sustaining — truly, “the most cash-rich militant group in the world” as the BBC dubbed it in an online article published on August 2. As ISIS’s slaughtering weakens both Iraq and Syria, inflaming sectarian tensions in a once-pluralistic Muslim world, it gives the US pretext to sweep in with its military and reoccupy the territories.

The saga of ISIS in Syria and Iraq has already been penned on paper — several US army maps for the region, including the US Armed Forces Journal in 2006, proposed a divided Syria, and Iraq chopped into three: a Sunni State, a Shi‘i State, and a Kurdish state. The blueprint of such blood-stained geopolitical scheming is the Yinon plan, developed by Oded Yinon, an Israeli journalist with ties to Israel’s foreign ministry.

The Yinon plan has been reprinted in several venues, and essentially calls for the dissolution of the Muslim countries in the Levant, Iraq, and North Africa, carving them into tiny sectarian units that can be militarily conquered by Israel. The outcome would be Eretz Israel, Theodor Herzl’s original dream — an Israel stretching from the Euphrates to the Nile, with all of North Africa as a sphere of influence. Yinon describes a Muslim world as a weak, unstable patchwork left by colonizers — and investigates how to use those divisions against themselves. Two paragraphs from the document are worth quoting at length.

“The world, with its ethnic minorities, its factions and internal crises, which is astonishingly self-destructive, as we can see in Lebanon… now also in Syria, is unable to deal successfully with its fundamental problems and does not therefore constitute a real threat against the State of Israel in the long run, but only in the short run where its immediate military power has great import. In the long run, this world will be unable to exist within its present framework in the areas around us without having to go through genuine revolutionary changes.

“Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel’s targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run it is Iraqi power that constitutes the greatest threat to Israel. An Iraqi-Iranian war will tear Iraq apart and cause its downfall at home even before it is able to organize a struggle on a wide front against us. Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi’ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north.”

Yinon describes the instability of the Arab world with satisfaction, and forecasts that the divisions will eventually implode in Israel’s favor. However, the pluralistic social fabric of the Muslim East held together the post-colonial patchwork of the Muslim world — despite the occasional outbreak of violence, minorities continued to live in peace with each other. It has taken the active re-engineering on the part of the US military-industrial complex to set the Muslim world ablaze for Israel’s security.

Using Saudi Arabia and the Gulf sheikhdoms to fund and equip prisoners, murderers, rapists, and prisoners of war with guns and Wahhabi takfirism, the US is washing away the societies of Muslim countries by proliferating al Qaeda franchises, each more violent than the other. ISIS is being used to split Syria and Iraq into sectarian countries, and to feed the ‘War on Terror’ inside the US that keeps its citizens somnolent in the face of eroding civil rights.

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