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"Ripples of Democracy"

 
 
Reply Tue 9 Feb, 2016 09:43 pm
How much to you fault the invasion of Iraq and subsequent regime change for the rise of ISIL/ISIS?
 
McGentrix
 
  2  
Reply Tue 9 Feb, 2016 09:52 pm
@Robert Gentel,
More than I'd like to admit.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Feb, 2016 10:15 pm
@McGentrix,
Do you see ISIS happening without it?
McGentrix
 
  2  
Reply Tue 9 Feb, 2016 10:18 pm
@Robert Gentel,
As it is now? No way. My understanding is that it made up of a lot of the remaining Iraqi Sunni military and disenfranchised folks. Also, Saddam would have been merciless in keeping them out of Iraq. We have many more restrictions.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Feb, 2016 10:59 pm
@McGentrix,
Sounds about right. Debatable if Arab spring happens and then the Syrian civil war, but definitely would not have had the scale without the vacuum in Iraq.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  5  
Reply Tue 9 Feb, 2016 11:08 pm
I consider the Iraq invasion one of the great blunders in all our history. In my view it destabilized the entire region for the forseeable future. Whoops bed time. Night night
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Feb, 2016 11:13 pm
@edgarblythe,
I agree, and we'll be paying for it (financially) the rest of our lives. It's easily the biggest political issue of my lifetime and likely will remain that way and it went the worst way it could every step of the way.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Wed 10 Feb, 2016 03:55 am
Prior to the invasion of Iraq, Al Qaeda had no presence there. After the invasion, a loopy Jordanian, al Zarqawi, renamed his organization (a rather vague Sunni jihadist organization) Al Qaeda in Iraq. Zarqawi was an important figure in the insurrection in 2004 and later. Zarqawi was killed in a US air strike in 2006, and the leadership of the organization fragmented. Finally, Abu Omar al Baghdadi was proclaimed the Emir of the Islamic State in Iraq. Infighting lasted until 2010, when al Baghdadi proclaimed himself leader again, ostensibly having eliminated all opposition among Sunni jihadi groups. Then al Baghdadi renamed himself Abu Bakr al Baghdadi (the name is significant to Muslims in that Abu Bakr was Mohammed's staunchest friend and supporter at the time of the declaration of Islam in the 7th century), and began trying to do what he claimed he had already done--take over control of all Sunni jihadi groups in Iraq. In 2013, he moved into Syria to continue his program to take over all Iraqi Sunni jihadi groups, and in some vicious infighting, ISI became ISIL and the ISIS.

Without a doubt, Islamic State is an unintentional creation of the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. They also continue to be a militarily inept but vicious organization which has successfully attracted thousands of fanatics, and which has squandered their military resources in one ill-considered and poorly executed military operation after another. ISIS has only proved to be a catastrophe for the people of Syria and Iraq. As a military organization, it has never been competent or dangerous. Their strongest suit is killing prisoners, and old men, women and children.
oralloy
 
  0  
Reply Wed 10 Feb, 2016 04:07 am
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:
How much to you fault the invasion of Iraq and subsequent regime change for the rise of ISIL/ISIS?

If Assad had not made part of his country into a terrorist haven and then ruthlessly smashed everyone but the terrorists, Islamic State would never have come into being even with the Iraq war turning out as it did.

I think I have to pin 100% of the blame on Assad.


Robert Gentel wrote:
Do you see ISIS happening without it?

Impossible to know without the ability to re-run history over and over to see how things play out differently.

It is certainly true that, without the Iraq war, the organization that arose from the Iraq war would not have been around to become Islamic State.

But without the Iraq war, it may well be that a similarly brutal organization would still have evolved in the environment that Assad created.

It may even be the case that, if not for Islamic State, an even worse organization would have evolved in Syria.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Feb, 2016 06:01 am
I have a bad habit of writing as though people can follow my train of thought, so i thought i ought to explain something. Saddam Hussein al Tikriti ran a secular state. His was a typical middle eastern minority tribal regime. Tribal regimes in the middle east only survive if they can unite enough support to keep the regime in power. Saddam's power base was in Tikrit (hence, the name) and it was Sunni. The Sunnis of Iraq are in the minority, so it behooved them to support the Ba'athist regime which Saddam Hussein was a member of when he took over in 1979. That regime was a secular regime. Certainly they abused and murdered Shi'ites, one doesn't leave one's bigotry at the door when one enters the halls of power. But it was not a fanatical, Sunni religious fundamentalist regime. There would have been no such organization if the United States had not invaded and destroyed the regime. Zarqawi, a Jordanian gangster wanted by the law in Jordan and a few other middle eastern nations, was able to rise to power because of the collapse of government in Iraq. I don't know whose idea it was to harness the power of religious fanaticism, but that it was a Sunni fanaticism shows its roots in the deposed Sunni minority. When Abu "Bakr" al Baghdadi took over Islamic State in Iraq (or created it--that part is unclear) his next significant move was to go into Syria and take over control of Iraqi paramilitaries who had joined the coalition against Assad. That was the core around which he built up the Islamic State military. I became aware of this possibility in 2014 when ISIS abandoned the drive on Baghdad and turned north to Tikrit. I immediately thought "Ah, former Iraqi Ba'athists and supporters of Saddam Hussein al Tikriti." Subsequent reading online confirmed that suspicion and also, soon enough, named Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Wed 10 Feb, 2016 05:18 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:
ISIS has only proved to be a catastrophe for the people of Syria and Iraq. As a military organization, it has never been competent or dangerous.


If you are comparing them to real nation-states that makes sense but I think the first sentence contradicts a bit of the last word in the last sentence.

Given that they have often faced less competent military opponents (e.g. the Iraqi military running the first time then came through, or other non-professional militias) they have managed to be what I would describe as quite dangerous. And while not particularly competent compared to nation states they are definitely a rather advanced form of terrorist group, not many manage to seize and hold territory the way they do.

I guess I'm saying they may be an incompetent and not dangerous wannabe state, but they are a competent and dangerous terrorist threat in the region and if unchecked this could go uncontained.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Feb, 2016 05:23 pm
@Setanta,
Definitely agree that without the disbanding of the Sunni regime and the Iraqi military much of this would not have happened or at least not at this scale. My doubt is whether an Arab spring would have happened or more specifically civil war in Syria. Because while I suspect it would not have it is not outside the realm of reasonable possibility and while it would not have been compounded with the initial influx of extremists to Iraq I can see extremists flocking there if the Syrian civil war were to happen without Iraq having been invaded first.

I'm convinced that the scale of the problem would not possibly be the same without the Iraq mess but still think a Syrian civil war could have happened and then possibly a lesser scale version of an ISIS. The underlying frustration against dynastic rule was still always there.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Feb, 2016 05:33 pm
@oralloy,
oralloy wrote:
I think I have to pin 100% of the blame on Assad.


While not being able to subscribe to the 100% absolutism that you do I definitely think Assad is most directly to blame for all this. After all even if you think that without Iraq Syria doesn't go down it's still clear that without his reaction to the uprising the rest doesn't go that way either. He's definitely the most directly to blame.

Still, the invasion of Iraq does seem to me to have undeniable cause and effect here. Even if you consider them completely distinct the fact that we blew our blood, treasure, political capital and war weariness on the Iraq misadventure means we have none left to effectively suppress ISIS. There is just no will for what it would take to fix the mess growing in Syria.

Quote:
Impossible to know without the ability to re-run history over and over to see how things play out differently.


Of course that counter-factual is not possible to know, none are. But I was still interested in speculation on the matter.

Quote:
It is certainly true that, without the Iraq war, the organization that arose from the Iraq war would not have been around to become Islamic State.

But without the Iraq war, it may well be that a similarly brutal organization would still have evolved in the environment that Assad created.

It may even be the case that, if not for Islamic State, an even worse organization would have evolved in Syria.


I agree that it's possible but find it a bit less likely, I think if Syria had gone down without the ready contribution of an already murdering group of militias right next door that the scale of the brutality would very likely have been smaller, even if it may well have occurred.

To me it's not a matter of how brutal but of scale. I do not see it likely that it would have been on the scale of Syria. Libya is a collapsed state too, with a growing influx of foreign extremists but it is not next door to a clusterfuck and didn't see the same scale of problem. The scale of this problem is what I find so remarkable and so tied to Iraq. I'm sure that if Syria had a civil war that there would have been some of this, but this much really does seem very unlikely without it having the Iraq mess right next door.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Feb, 2016 04:12 am
@Robert Gentel,
Although Iraq was never in fact a member of the UAR, the mere possibility lead Iraq and Syria to reduce border controls to the level of a routine traffic stop. Iraqis and Syrians have been able to travel both ways easily since 1958. Theoretically, both nations were also practitioners of Ba'ath Arab socialism, but that has always been largely a myth, and a cover for regimes such as Hussein's and the Assads'.

But i am unimpressed with the so-called Arab spring. It likely would have eventually occurred in Tunisia, as in fact happened, and there has been sufficient contact with Europe and travel both ways that there likely would have been the same result. But almost nothing eventuated to the benefit of the people of what are routinely called "Arab" countries. Nothing essential has changed in Egypt other than the thorough discrediting of the Muslim Brotherhood. Different faces, same game. Saudi Arabia took steps to assure that nothing changed on the Arabian peninsula in concert with the ruling clans of the other nations there. I am not going to waste a lot of time on this, but simply observe that the definition of who is or isn't a terrorist is pretty fluid. In my opinion, Oralloy knows next to nothing about the middle east, and the little he might claim to know is warped by his irrational bigotry against Muslims. Syria was destabilized by the influx of Iraqi refugees . . . period. It both flooded Syria with Sunnis in a bad mood and put financial burdens on the Assad regime that could not be sustained. Assad's father had training camps for "terrorists," and it didn't threaten the regime. Most of those were closed down before Assad took over on this father's death, and the rest could not be financed as Iran turned away covert funding of Syrian camps and focused on Hezbollah. All of their alleged support for Hamas is a pittance in comparison to what goes to the Lebanon. Loony conspiracy theories about nurturing terrorist vipers in Assad's bosom just don't convince me. Even all this strife and the influx of millions of Iraqis has not brougth Assad down, and now with the loon from Moscow backing him, i don't see him going down at all.

So, no invasion of Iraq, i say, no Islamic State (which started in Iraq) and no similar Sunni extremist organization in Syria.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Feb, 2016 04:20 am
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:
If you are comparing them to real nation-states that makes sense but I think the first sentence contradicts a bit of the last word in the last sentence.


I am comparing them to the militaries of well-established nation states. Any garden variety pack of well-armed extortionist thugs could pull off what they've done in Syria. ISIS is incompetent at the highest levels, and they've squandered their money and other resources, and have never had a coherent operational plan (at least not any apparent operational plan). I expect them to be badly wounded in Iraq over time, and in the event of Assad largely restabilizing his state, they're probably doomed.

As a military organization, rather than an elaborate protection racket and organ of terror, ISIS has never been competent or dangerous.
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Thu 11 Feb, 2016 05:28 am
I hope a few solutions begin to settle the region somewhat before the USA election, as a new president may act to make it worse.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Feb, 2016 06:09 am
@Robert Gentel,
About 80%

Can't rule out Hussein meeting a similarly messy end via another internal or external source that left a similarly unstable vacuum.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Feb, 2016 12:35 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:
But i am unimpressed with the so-called Arab spring. It likely would have eventually occurred in Tunisia, as in fact happened, and there has been sufficient contact with Europe and travel both ways that there likely would have been the same result. But almost nothing eventuated to the benefit of the people of what are routinely called "Arab" countries. Nothing essential has changed in Egypt other than the thorough discrediting of the Muslim Brotherhood. Different faces, same game.


Well yeah, that term was always aspirational when it was coined. And obviously it did not turn out very well. In fact since 2011 the term "Arab Winter" has been used to describe the aftermath.

Quote:
So, no invasion of Iraq, i say, no Islamic State (which started in Iraq) and no similar Sunni extremist organization in Syria.


If you mean no similar scale I definitely agree, but Sunni extremist groups like the Islamic Front or the al-Nusra Front seem to me like groups that could have organically formed without Iraq's contributions to the mess.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Feb, 2016 12:39 pm
@Setanta,
I definitely agree they are not a formidable nation-state or military but I do think that the scale of what they have achieved is notable for the "extortionist thugs" that they are. Especially compared to the other extremist groups in the region who were not able to metastasize to nearly the same degree.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Feb, 2016 04:04 pm
The only reasons i can assign to the rapid expansion of Islamic State are that they were able to successfully recruit Iraqi Sunnis, especially in Syria; and that they had an islamist cachet that others just didn't have. I acknowledge that it mystifies me. Even al Qaeda, the theretofore most successful Sunni fundamentalist group never recruited so successfully. Many, probably most, of those recruits were lost fighting in Afghanistan. If the pundits are correct, Islamic State was able to recruit from between 15,000 and 20,000 individuals, far exceeding any Sunni group previously. There are those who suggest that they manipulated social media effectively, something which AQ and others seem not to have attempted, or even to have thought of. The largest Islamic militant groups prior to that, and excepting Palestinians, was the Revolutionary Guard in Iran, and then Hezbollah in the Lebanon, created by the Revolutionary Guard, and probably in response to Israeli exploitation of the Christian militias in the Lebanon. No other groups have been so well funded. Hezbollah uses their resources effectively, and to the benefit of Lebanese in the areas they control. Islamic State claims to provide social services, too, but they mostly help previously existing institutions to limp along. (These comments are based on online reports, carefully considered.) But the thuggery comes from the extorting "taxes" for these services, sometimes in kind, because their logistics are so lame that they often have been unable to feed their troops. They got about half a billion in U.S. dollars from bank robberies, and then squandered it on trucks and armored cars, for which they paid way too much, and have been unable to maintain, because they have no coherent logistical base. Fifteen thousand fighters would be the equivalent of a European style light infantry division, and would have from ten to twenty thousand troops behind it in logistical support services. An armored car is not worth much, no matter what you paid for it, if it breaks down and you don't have spare parts and people trained to maintain that specialized equipment.

They called themselves Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant for a while, but they dropped that, and i noticed that they never made any real effort to take on Hezbollah. Those boys have good equipment, a coherent logistical train, supplies from Iran, and lots and lots of military experience. The tragedy is that the victims of Islamic State have mostly been unarmed civilians, and those who have been foolish enough to surrender to them. I doubt that anyone surrenders to them these days. I don't underrate what a catastrophe they are for the middle east, but they are not militarily competent. A Marine expeditionary force could cripple them in a matter of days, and take them apart completely in probably no more than three or four months, including the mop up. Sadly, that's not going to happen. The middle east will continue to bleed and suffer.
0 Replies
 
 

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