Tag Archives: National Security

Atak USA na Syrię 7 kwietnia 2017, jako rozgrywka geopolityczna

Od razu zastrzegam, że nie mam pojęcia kto użył broni chemicznej w Syrii, być może to się wyjaśni, a może nie. Wszystkie przypadki użycia tego typu broni w Syrii po 2011 roku były, są i będą przedmiotem sporu co do ich autorstwa. Chcę krótko zająć się grą geo-politytczną między USA a Rosją w kontekście tego ataku, ponieważ od tego będzie zależał dalszy los Syryjczyków, a w konsekwencji także reszty świata. 

Niewątpliwie po niepowodzeniu zacieśnienia współpracy między USA a Rosją, nowy prezydent Stanów Zjednoczonych szukał innych możliwości dla uczynienia “America great again” także na polu międzynarodowym. Gdy odsunął gen Michaela Flynna, a w jego miejsce powołał gen. McMastera, jasne się stało, że w jego obozie zaczynają dominować zwolennicy tradycyjnej polityki USA, nakierowanej na budowanie sojuszy, ale w taki sposób by zagwarantować utrzymywanie dominującej roli USA.

W międzyczasie doszło do fatalnej operacji w Jemenie, która uświadomiła prezydentowi, że musi słuchać doradców i nie działać pochopnie i impulsywnie. Atak na bazę Syryjską został właśnie tak zaplanowany.

Biały Dom poinformował Rosję o planowanym ataku, ale na tyle późno, by ta nie zdążyła przygotować ewakuacji bazy syryjskiej. Stąd Rosja raz potwierdza, a raz zaprzecza, że taką informację od USA otrzymała. Rosja wielokrotnie wcześniej wyraźnie sugerowała, że wszelkie działania względem Syrii, nie tylko wymagają negocjacji z Kremlem, ale nawet jego akceptacji. Konferencja w Astanie była tego jasnym świadectwem, gdy USA zostały tam zaproszone do udziału (niejako w roli obserwatora), a nie jako współorganizator. Trump musiał odmówić. O pozostałych sygnałach z Rosji świadczących o chęci względnej dominacji Rosji w “sojuszu” z USA pisałem już 26 styczni br.: “Trzy wydarzenia okresu przejsciowego, istotne dla nowej administracji USA” 

Trump zrozumiał wówczas, że podział wpływów na Bliskim Wschodzie może być tylko efektem twardej gry geopolitycznej i politycznej, a nie “biznesowej” współpracy z Rosją.  Stąd odsunięcie Flynna oraz żądanie zwrotu Krymu. Oba te ruchy raczej wzbudzały rozbawienie na Kremlu. Jednak Putin chyba nie przewidział, że to tylko zapowiedź kolejnych kroków. Dzisiejszy atak w Syrii o tym świadczy. Odpowiedzią Rosji obecnie, będzie zapewne wzmożenie ataków przeciw rebeliantom popieranym przez USA, znów przemieści Iskandery M do Kaliningradu (nie wiem który już raz), dokona jakiejś liczby lotów “patrolowych” strategicznymi bombowcami w pobliżu terytorium NATO. Niebezpieczne byłoby natomiast gdyby Rosja postanowiła uaktywnić tzw. “rebeliantów” w Donbasie.

Osoby, które znały Trumpa zanim został prezydentem przestrzegały, że jeśli deal między Rosją i USA się nie powiedzie, to Trump stanie się dla Kremla bardzo twardym graczem. Myślę, że ten moment właśnie nastąpił. Atak w Syrii pokazał, że USA prawdopodobnie opracowały nową strategię bezpieczeństwa (lub przynajmniej zarys) , której autorami mogą być gen Mattis wraz z gen McMasterem. Zapewne Rex Tillerson ją akceptował, a Trump przyjął do realizacji. USA posiadają też tzw. Wielką strategię (choć za czasów Obamy chyba była mocno zaniedbana), która ma wpływać na mechanizmy geo-polityczne.

Problemem jednak jest to kto po Asadzie mógłby rządzić Syrią. Sam Trump w kampanii twierdził że w Syrii nie ma rebelii, którą USA mogłyby popierać. Teraz jego administracja żąda odsunięcia Asada. Kto więc miałby tam przejąć władzę? Budowanie rządu jedności narodowej od zera jest to proces na dekady. Amerykanie to wiedzą przynajmniej od 2003 roku. Wie o tym na pewno gen Mattis, z którym dokładnie o tym rozmawiałem. Na wiele pytań brak jest dziś odpowiedzi.

Być może więc powstająca strategia polega na tym, że USA za pomocą operacji takich jak dziś przyciskają Asada “do ściany”, demonstrują, że sprawy już nie wrócą do stanu z czasów Obamy, po czym proponują mu pozostanie na stanowisku w zamian za marginalizację Rosji i Iranu. Jednocześnie zmuszają opozycję do negocjacji a tych którzy nie przystąpią do współpracy traktują jak terrorystów. Scenariusz niebezpieczny i trudny, ale możliwy.

USA będą starały się ograniczyć gwałtowny wzrost wpływów Iranu na Bliskim Wschodzie oraz mniejszy, ale istotny Rosji. Syria to oba te cele naraz. Oczywiście Syria jest też państwem tranzytowym dla przesyłu surowców energetycznych, a więc ma także znaczenie geo-ekonomiczne. Dlatego też Syria jest dziś tak ważnym miejscem. Stała się ważnym “sworzniem” geopolitycznym dla państw kluczowych. Od 6 lat na tej walce o wpływy cierpią głównie cywile.

Oczywiście można głosić konieczność pojednania w imię dobra ludzkości, ale takie hasła nie działają gdy funkcjonuje “geopolityczne urządzenie mechaniczne”. Dlatego trzeba rozpatrywać wydarzenia pod kątem realnych scenariuszy, acz nie można rezygnować z wzywania do przestrzegania zasad etyki, humanitaryzmu, i wartości.

Jak zwykle postuluję idealizm, ale oparty o na realizmie.

After Paris masarce I say: no WAR but good POLICY at last!!

686997efbbd43f522df7e7d2d1e6fbfeAfter 11/09, and the following the attacks in Madrid, London, Charlie Hebdo and today – after the massacre in Paris the same password is raised again: “We are at war!” “We must fight!” So I ask – Against whom? Where? Who is the enemy? I would like to remind, that George W. Bush declared the war already, 14 years ago – on the ruins of the World Trade Center the day after the attacks in 2001. This war continues, and is/was conduced in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Mali, CAR and others. In this war we hit with full force, and hundreds of thousands of troops (Afghanistan and Iraq) or operate less formally, but equally deadly (Yemen, Syria) sometimes openly support those who supposedly are fighting against dictatorship (Libya and Syria, and there were those who wanted to help in Egypt but thankfully they didn’t decided that). The opponent, however, continually strengthens and hit us occasionally, but extremely accurately causing death, fear and doubt. Time to realize – against whom we conduct the war, and who runs it against us? Another cry: “We are at war!” or “You have to fight!” will lead to further ill-considered military action, the consequence of which will be to strengthen the real enemy. At our own request we incur further losses in the army – sent no sense to the Middle East, and civilians more easily attacked in our (European or US) cities, not to mention further victims in the places of conflict in the Middle East – but that, in this day, after the terrorist attacks in Paris, probably only a few interests.

Who and where is the enemy I tried to show in the text:

Charlie Hebdo: Islam vs. Islamism

Why it is easy for them to grow and take action here:

Decision making process in Iraq in 2003

and here:

Syria: searching of lesser evil

MOST IMPORTANT – How to fight it:

Outline of the International Security Strategy

and partly here:

Humanitarian missions int he stabilization operation

I also wrote that further policy based on “WAR” will lead to further the spiral of violence, which, by the crisis of refugees and terrorist attacks already reaches Europe and the USA. In this connection it should be remembered that the war on radicalism – rightly called Islamo-fascism did not begin on September 11, 2001, but the attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon were just the consequence of consistently wrong Western policy in the Middle East. The Middle Eastern societies at the end of the twentieth and the early twenty-first century is undergoing massive social changes, unnoticed by Western politicians or misinterpreted (as a sign of “explosion” of Western-style democracy). With no change in this policy, it is impossible to achieve peace and stability. These can only be achieved through wise (multi disciplinary and multi-level, varied – depending on the place etc.) international politics. Of course, also in case of such policy, military operations are a necessity, but they must be part of the policy and give results in the form of political progress, and not be objective or in response to enemy action. The war goes on and the opponent is getting better methods and tools to attack “us”. At the same time, many of us do not realize how many allies, we have the “other” side. I personally know many Syrians, Egyptians, Lebanese, Palestinians and Turks, who continuously demonstrate calling for “us”, that tolerating radicalism in the Western world, allowing the marches of Islamo-fascists calling for the overthrow of the democratic government and the establishment in the place of Sharia law, respecting freedom Citizens by not placing wiretaps in places where there is a promotion of hate, overthrowing the dictatorship in the Middle East – all that generate great risk! What’s more, the losses we get,  triggers our anger directed against those who are easy to reach (about which I wrote in the text of Charlie Hebdo). They are Muslims praying in the Mosque, Muslim children in school, women, often teachers, doctors, who like us are afraid of extremists and terrorists. The true enemy is the one who treats us as an enemy and   he is reachable despite the claims of the Politicians. We can not, however, see enemy between the dictators, groups not willing to cooperate with us or those who want to increase their influence in the region. Finally, we must separate the threat of extremism and terrorism from the economic interests, geopolitical influences etc. We hve to stop deciding for Middle Eastern societies and self-reliance of countries there, we have to treat them as partners. In that place we have to focus on the destruction of the actual centers of extremism and terrorism both in Middle East and West. We need partners and real allies against extremism and terrorism and for implementing a strategy similar to that which I suggested at the beginning of the text. If so, am sure that not more than six months would be enough to disappear: The so called Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusrah, Al-Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb and al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula and others. By doing this, the wealth of the West and the possibility of influencing policy would not have fall so badly as  Western leaders are worried.

                Of course, I also know well that this will not happen. The public want war and it will get it. “Tabloid War ” which will kill many “terrorists” – in fact the people living in the Middle East – not necessarily even a “bad” Muslims. between them they will get the persons related to the massacre in Paris. Nobody will say in Europe, that there are thousands of the same kind of people in the Middle East, so the threat will not be reduced even of half a percent. In this wa y “we will rebuild” sense of security for a while. It will grow with each killed a “terrorist” what will be presented by the politicians – just as the tabloids. In fact, we will prepare the ground for further attacks – more and more bloody, more easily conducted and more … provoking another wars. The extremists – as the name suggests live from extremes – chaos, war, injustice, poverty, geopolitical turmoil and , false image of the religion. This gives them the strengh and they get if from wars and again it threnghten their radicalism. More wars creates more radicals. Wars doesn’t kill radicals but create them!

The outline of the security strategy in the context of the immigration crisis

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USA and EU policy in the Middle East implemented during the first 15 years of the twenty-first century was based on ad hoc measures, determined by domestic issues of Western countries. Thus, no strategy for coordinated action or calculation of any enduring positive effects was developed, by or for any side in the conflict. This resulted in a dramatic deterioration of the situation both within the region itself, and within Europe.

Below are the few projects of  tactical level which together make up the strategy and would, in my opinion, normalize the situation in the Middle East and radically reduce the threat from radical groups. From the European perspective, it would also indirectly contribute to reducing the wave of immigrants. Naturally, this is only the outline of such a strategy, and certainly contains many loopholes. However, with the proper will of the Western countries, it is feasible. Cited issues must be implemented in parallel for all three layers (unless otherwise indicated in the text). Points are therefore not in chronological order:

I. Middle Eastern political issues:

  1. Using the agreement with Iran, immediately resume contacts with the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Agree on a “road map” for Syria*:
  2. Prolonged agreement with Iran while controlling and reducing the Iranian nuclear program and consequent influence in the region in accordance with point 1 cited above.
  3. Backroom negotiations with the GCC, Iran, Israel and China and Russia in order to establish cooperation. Initial area of common interest to launch negotiations: the division of spheres of influence in the region and agreement on the rights of Sunni and Shiite minorities where they are a minority. In the absence of agreement on the issue of Iraq and Yemen, a contingency plan should take into account the need to share these countries. In this respect, there is also the need to negotiate within the same group. The issue of delimitation and possible resettlement and access to places of worship. The best result of these negotiations would be obtaining the cooperation of both parties in reducing Sunni and Shiite extremism and prohibiting the efforts of (corrupting elements within these groups?) from acquiring weapons of mass destruction by either party.
    • How to withdraw from the conflict while minimizing further losses and trends of revenge,
    • Communicate with FSA leadership who have not gone over to Al – Nusry (probably already applies to a small number) and a reconciliation with Assad for their inclusion in Syrian military structures.
    • Direct joint military effort against PI.
  4. Bring to the negotiations between Turkey and the Kurds the Kurdish statehood issue and Kurdish freedoms in Turkey and abandon their terrorist activities in Turkey. The negotiations should be attended by representatives of Iranian, Iraqi and Syrian authorities. Area of initial agreement to launch negotiations: the establishment of a Kurdish state in Northern Iraq and Syria but not in Turkey. Agreement between Turkey and Kurds is POSSIBLE!! Just how it happened during “Zero problems with neighbours” policy period of Mr Erdogan.
  5. Creation of a Kurdish state, the borders of which should be established as a result of the Turkish- Kurdish agreement under UN agency. At the same time the UN should send a contingent to monitor agreements and designate observation points along all borders of the new state. Chinese UN troops as a sign of China role in modelling of theworld order.
  6. Resume and place strong emphasis on re-opening negotiations between Israel and Palestine. The negotiations must take into account and engage countries participating in this conflict except the Israeli and the Palestinian Authorities– the EU and the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt and Iran. This will lead to the deployment of the UN contingent inside the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and at the Israeli borders. Again Chinese Peacekeepers together with US would seem to fit here.
  7. Bring to the negotiations the stabilization of the situation in Yemen. For this purpose, it is necessary to include Iran and the GCC countries in the talks. The UN contingent to supervise the agreement and reconstruction of power.
  8. To achieve points. 5-7: full EU cooperation with the US, China, Russia, GCC, Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Iran on security issues.
  9. Great emphasis on and commitment of the EU and the United States in cooperation with the religious authorities in the Middle East. Scholarship program for religious leaders to promote “peaceful version” of Islam.
  10. Maximum improvement of the relations with Egypt. Only after improving the conditions of the international situation, the weakening influence of the so-called IS in Egypt and stabilization of the situation in Egypt gradually increasing pressure on civil liberties, women’s rights etc.
  11. Definite change of the course in case of China. China is making great policy in the ME and Africa and could be constructive if treated as partner.

II. Middle East – humanitarian issues:

  1. The EU and the US must undertake the financing, organization and control of existing refugee camps in the Middle East. The model for these camps should be the Turkish organizational method, which provides the best conditions for refugees.
  2. Negotiations with the Iraqi authorities and Syria, backed by strong action and propaganda or information to reflect the subjectivity and political role of minorities in those countries.
  3. Financial and organizational support – through humanitarian organizations with confirmed authority and effectiveness for the reconstruction of Iraq, Syria and Yemen. A model of the stabilization mission with the use of the humanitarian organizations: https://mmilczanowski.wordpress.com/2015/04/30/humanitarian-missions-and-the-military-in-the-stabilization-interventions-the-example-of-the-intervention-in-iraq-2003-2011/
  4. Alongside the political rebuilding and stabilizing of Iraq, Syria and Yemen and the formation of Kurdistan, a promotional campaign for the resettlement of the population of the camps and emigration to  home countries should be set up.

III. The EU and the US:

  1. The introduction of “General Monitoring Refugees Rules” in the EU. From the EU external border refugees should be monitored, using all available methods.
  2. Establishment of temporary refugee files on the basis of the monitoring process as detailed in point 1 above. Documenting all actions of individuals. As a result, even when their documents are unavailable,  you can collect data on them.
  3. On the basis of the “General Monitoring Refugees Rules”, profiling of people of high suspicion and subjecting them to surveillance in countries that they eventually reach.
  4. Strict law enforcement in EU countries without tolerating actions arising from cultural differences. Eg. Prayer in the temple or in the legally assigned place for that, freedoms and civil rights strictly adhered to, incitement to hatred on cultural or changing the constitutional order be treated with severity.
  5. Persons calling for the establishment of Sharia in Europe the same treatment as neo-fascist groups. Not only deny it in public, but prohibited by law.
  6. Treat surveillance of all places of worship where it is even less likely that 4 and 5 might occur. This action should be aimed at detecting particularly dangerous  “sleeper cells” of terrorists.
  7. Educate people in Europe using programs like this: http://heroicimagination.org/ and here http://wp.me/p4y6QP-9M

*This point has become very complicated since Russia started its military operation. Propaganda on both sides (Russia – pro Assad and Western – anti Assad) radicalized and now it is much harder to make this point workable.

Warm thanks to Sarah @italianistica for helping me with the correction 🙂

Interview with prof. Phillip Zimbardo about Iraq, military and education

Discussion took place in profesor Zimbardo’s house in San Francisco 2nd of July 2015.

CLpTlZkWEAAGTDI This meeting was a part of my visit as a fellow in the Hoover Institution. First we had a good conversation through the skype and Professor Philip Zimbardo invited me to his house. There was the continuation of the discussion in that beautiful house beside the Lombard Street in San Francisco. We spoke about many things and this script is just a part of the whole discussion. I had two objectives in this conversation. First was to consult my research about the war in Iraq and it’s influence on US policy. Second was to discuss Professor’s projects. Especially the Hero Imagination Project (HIP) which Professor was so kind to invite me to join it. I admire professor’s works and I believe, that he deserves the Nobel prize for his famous experiment  (even if it was very controversial). This meeting was form me much more than just a consultation or talk. I’ve met man who is legend, as my Egyptian friend Sonia Azer told me when I told her about this meeting. I find his works – his experiments and his projects very basic for the explanation of all wrong what is happening today. Iraq, Ukraine, Palestine, Israel, Yemen, Somalia, Rwanda, Serbia and Bosnia Stalin or Hitler and now Putin or Assad, all wrong starts from the peoples mind and most of it can be explained and described by the Stanford Prison Experiment.

MM – Do You think the psychological trainings in area of intercultural communication or similar to Hero Imagination Project would be helpful for soldiers in Iraq?

PZ – I’m an academic, I work with the high schools and students, but it (HIP) should work for the military of course. The new idea of soldiers, in a peace time, is not to learn how to kill. It is learn people how to appreciate each other.  After Abu Ghraib, I was expert witness to one of the guards who had the night shifts when the prisoners were abused. I said: when You went to Iraq, what was Your cultural training, how did they prepared You to deal with the people of so different culture? He said we had thirty minutes I asked what did they teach You? He said, they gave him the list of all the things they shouldn’t do. But it was nothing about the different religion, about conflict between the Shia and Sunni, nothing. So this was a failure of the military education form the top down. Soldiers have to realize those people have very rich history, they civilization was ancient even before America was even discovered.

MM – What I do in Hoover Institution Archives is an juxtaposition of the US commitments made to the Iraqi people with the decision making process and it’s consequences which created the real disaster for the people there. In Hoover Institution I have found few collections of the materials spread in Iraq and Afghanistan at the beginning of both interventions. In my opinion two major thing which were made wrong in Iraq (despite the reasons of intervention which are also very questionable): lack of proper psychological training for the military and the wrong decision making process. Those two created the so called “Lucifer Effect”.

PZ – Yes, the first thing was the promise and another delivering it. There was a big gap. I’m against the war, but if You go to war, You can do it in a good way or a bad way. That was the bad way.

MM – In my opinion the most important in Iraq was to win support of the Iraqi people – Shia, Sunni and Kurds.

PZ – So if You look on our project of Hero Imagination, You would see it could be also a soldiers training.

MM – I assume it could be implemented as the basic training in the military schools or academies?

PZ – Yes, it is very basic understanding of human nature. Why the people do good things, why the people do bad things. How to get people who do nothing to do something. Because if You have to do something You better do the right thing.

MM – In my opinion, what You do in HIP and what is Your work about, is so basic that it fits all areas of life: military in Iraq, primary schools, students, Ukrainians trying to assimilate in Poland (like in my University in Rzeszow) and so on. Problems starts from the teachers too, many of them in all levels make a lot of mistakes. They don’t have the intercultural preparation so they also use prejudice.

PZ – It is called the teacher prejudice.

MM – like in that another experiment of the Jane Elliott with the Blue eyes-brown eyes children in the primary school.

PZ – Oh yes, we have that lesson in our program and we use the video from that experiment, actually I work with the Jane Elliott personally. When she did the study I have to come to Stanford and she teach me what she did and lectured me on it. I have analyzed all of her data for her. Video is so powerful. You can talk a lot, but that video makes the impression. So now for the record I would like to say, that I Philip Zimbardo would like to work with You Maciek to export our programs on understanding human nature both to Your students through Your institute (Institute for the Research of the National Security in the University of Information Technology and Management) but I am sure it would also work for the military which would be unique. I didn’t prepared it for the military, although I had lectured in America at the West Point and Annapolis (United States Naval Academy) and they actually used some of the ideas from the prison study in what they called the SEAR program – Survival Evasion Resistance Escape. So they play the war games with some people pretend to be the prisoners who escape, and the other ones have to capture them and interrogate, to see if they can get confessions. In many cases, even though everybody knew it was a game, the people who were to catch the captives, physically abused and in some cases even sexually abused the other soldiers. It was a big scandal in the military. So now they use the Stanford Prison Experiment as a warning of the abuse of power. Because even if You know it is a game, like in these prison cells, they knew it was a game, You cross the line and it becomes the real that You are prison guard and not the student. So the main ideas are so general, that when I came to West Point Academy and Annapolis they told me: “Your video is in our program, they watch that in the training”. They make a warning of what can happened. So these are important areas of my work. We have now the non profit foundation in Poland, but we need to expand so we could divide it into divisions – one will be military, other primary schools and another college. So we will meet in Katowice 28-29 of August and You need to have the panel there about Your experience.

MM – Thank  You. I would like to participate in it. Thank You also for Your proposal of working together and joining Your projects.

PZ – I’m sure it will be an important part of it. Now the other thing is, that in America, the strongest influence on education have a group called PTA – Parents Teachers Association. It doesn’t exist in Poland. I have met with the parents association and I have asked: “Do You link the teachers?” They answered: “No, teachers are like the enemies”. I have said, that only parents plus teachers have the political power to change the system! So this is my another idea, how to get the parents association to create a new organization which is parents and teachers in improving the education.

MM – I have to admit that the ground for that is getting better now in Poland. Ministry of Education pressures the primary schools directors to implement the parents. But the objective is just to make the school and lessons more interesting with help of the parents. There is no will to use such cooperation for the system improvement.

PZ – So look: in America the PTA is a very powerful group. They have political influence, they have more money for the schools, they can prevent the school from the closure if the administration wants to do that. What I find also not good in Poland is lack of philanthropy. Rich people don’t have a concept of giving back. They should pay for the good projects which helps the society.

MM – Yes I believe it’s a huge problem in Poland to find a donors. Even if You have a great projects prepared You need to know people to get donations. Thank You for inviting me to Your projects. So we will meet and discuss all of the details in Katowice in August, but I would like to invite You to Rzeszów to the University of Information Technology and Management and to my newly founded Institute for the Research of National Security. If You could find some time I would be very happy to host You there.

PZ – I will try to find some time to get there too. It is not so far from Katowice where we will meet at the end of the August so I will try.

Finally I was invited for the conference in Katowice where the main issue is the project which meant to start the revolution in Polish education system.

Humanitarian missions and the military in the stabilization operations: the example of the intervention in Iraq 2003-2011

The Coalition forces intervention in Iraq – which ended in 2011 – can only be called a total failure. That operation was meant to be a stabilization operation, transformed later on into a training mission. But even during it’s existence it appeared to be clear that the military actions which were the core of this operation failed in every aspect. They did not brought democracy to Iraq, nor did they stabilize or reconstruct the country. So what went wrong, if there were enormous sums of money invested into this operation and hundreds of thousands of the soldiers rotated through Iraq? Many of those soldiers lost their life or their health. In the USA there are two main points of view in this respect. Republicans claim that George W. Bush’s plan and its realization fulfilled the task and brought stabilization to Iraq, but the next (Democratic) president – Barack Obama – ruined those efforts by withdrawing US troops too soon. On the other side, Democrats are convinced that the operation was wrong from its beginning, and Barack Obama simply lessened the consequences by withdrawing US soldiers. The decision making process of the Coalition Provisional Administration is presented in another article: “Decision making process and it’s consequences: (de)stabilization of Iraq” http://wp.me/p4y6QP-52. But that article does not explain all the reasons for the failure of the Iraq operation, only focusing on one (although decisive) point of the process which brought Iraq to ruin and chaos.

 Slajd1     Despite the political mistakes, another failure was the trust in the ability of the Armed Forces to stabilize the country. The reconstruction and establishment of peaceful interactions between ethnic and religious groups is not the task a military is prepared for so the Armed Forces dont have any tools or competencies to undertake such missions. To fulfill that gap, the PRT – Provisional Reconstruction Teams – were created at divisional and brigade levels. Those Teams were composed of civilian and military personnel. The civilian side was composed of State Justice or Agriculture Department representatives and also humanitarian organization people. The military part consisted of officers from logistics or CIMIC branches. Even if it (the composition) looked right on the paper, 10 PRTs for the whole of Iraq were not enough. In such a complicated and difficult situation as in the Iraq of 2003, only fully professional and experienced organization could bring real stabilization. Unfortunately in the Brigade Combat Teams all tasks were performed by military personnel who had to plan and perform these tasks under the pressure of the commanders. In 2007, the number of PRTs increased to 20, which was still just a drop in the ocean. In the case of Polish PRTs those teams were too small and their number too few, but most importantly they didn’t have any experience in nation-building. The military had at their disposal a large sum of money spent on activities which were unfamiliar for them (Robert M. Perito, Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Iraq, United States Institute of Peace, Special Report 185, March 2007).

Slajd2     The military, having the task of stabilizing the country, performed actions which were characteristic for them; patrols, convoys, shows of force, or cordon & search operations. Those activities were aimed at searching for and destroying the terrorists and the protection of their own personnel. Those actions made by the PRT’s or doctors under escort, performing so called “White Sundays”, were used by the media to show a picture of the stabilization mission which was widely disseminated in the West. The effect was measured by the media news, not in real help for the Iraqis. . The problem was that there was no wider plan of the country reconstruction – it was entirely ad-hoc. It caused the situation, when spending even large sums of money and with a relatively big effort of the military personnel involved, to become intractable.

The main focus of the Coalition Forces in Iraq was in fighting terrorism not stabilization in humanitarian terms. But the instability and lack of basic conditions for normal life gave life to terrorism. So the military in fact fought the enemy it created . At the other end are  humanitarian organizations, which there to help local people organize and take care of their lives. Such help is called “good” as it motivates the people to work. It gives them hope that there is a chance for progress and that, at the end will pass through their current difficulties. There is also “bad” help – which can render people unable to take care of their communities, families, making them dependent on foreign aid. The “bad” help does more harm than good in the long run. So true stabilization can only be achieved when there is some very well -prepared “good” humanitarian aid which starts local activity. The role of the military can only be in protection of the humanitarian workers and in protecting the area. Depending on the circumstances, there can also be the necessity to fight terrorists, but it needs to be really well- defined who could be called a terrorist. Unofficial definitions in that matter cause occasion for abuse.

There is a possibility of working out a model of a stabilization mission which has to be much more effective than the two largest stabilization missions of modern history: Iraq after 2003 and Afghanistan after 2001. There are good signs showing what such cooperation between military and humanitarian organizations can look like. Polish soldiers in Iraq showed constantly that in that field of operations, it is not the number of “terrorists” killed that can determine how the task is realized, but the quality of life in the Area of Responsibility. Soldiers did a lot to help people, even beyond the procedures. Ordinary soldiers without cameras and journalists quite often gave the food and water to the children – who were always waiting for Polish patrols. Those soldiers didn’t use force without necessity, because they were sensitive to human tragedy. Even now, most people in Iraq remember the Polish soldiers with sympathy. Other contingents acted in the same way (like the Bulgarians, the Lithuanians and others). At the other end of that scale were the private military organizations (like Blackwater) which spread chaos in their routes and areas of operation. I am sure there is a possibility to train and organize regular military units to protect humanitarian organizations without causing harm to their reputations or the abilities to proceed with their actions. It could produce truly quick and effective stabilization.
(The photos were taken by myself during patrol from Camp Echo to Camp Charlie and convoy from Camp Echo to Tallil).

Text was corrected thanks to Sarah La Pietra @ . Thank You Sarah

Decision making process and it’s consequences: (de)stabilization of Iraq

mid-east-religion

There is a tendency among the politicians and decision makers (key to the world order) for the simplifying of the most important issues. It helps to “understand” the matter of the problem, and take some decisive actions. The problem is that without careful analysis and taking all – or at least as much as possible – of the details into consideration, such actions can lead to disastrous effects for all concerned. So we had the issue of “good vs. bad” in the case of Saddam Hussein: After his removal it was meant to be easy to build democracy. Another simplification was in 2009, when the number of causalities decreased in Iraq, which for many simply mean that the country was stabilized. Moreover President Barack Obama, who wanted to withdraw troops from Iraq, was also convinced (or pretended so)  that Iraq was stable. And now we try once again to simplify the problems of Iraq in the case of Islamic State (IS, called also ISIS, ISIL or Da’esh). The way it operates, the way it makes people think is at last a clear picture: bad people against good people. Many say that IS is so radical and brutal, that it exceeds everything in the human history and that is the enemy of all people in the so- called civilized world. There are voices from the nations of the West, the Middle East and others to join their efforts to defeat this nightmare. For many people, it’s clear, that defeating IS will bring stability to Iraq again. Unfortunately this easy and straight picture is based on an incorrect assessment, because the situation in the region, and especially in Iraq, is not simple at all. Such simplification was the cause of many mistakes and misjudgements in that region, and following such a line will cause future problems for not only the Iraqis , but also for the region and the West. The so- called Islamic State is not the most brutal organization in history, nor in the recent times, not in the region and not even in violent and brutal in Iraq itself. The invasion of the Coalition Forces (CF) in Iraq of 2003 changed the balance of power in the region radically. The programme for the rebuilding of Iraq seems to have been haphazard and poorly thought-through. The original plan of the Iraq rebuilding seemed to be reasonable: The Director of the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, Jay Gardner, knew very well the situation in Iraq and realized the necessity of the difficult but fundamentally important status quo between the Sunni, Shia and the special role of the Kurds. But the replacement of Gardner by the pair of governors – Paul Bremer and Alamay Khalilzad, could not have been a worse solution. The first of them was meant to be in charge of US and CF and the second was to lead the rebuilding of the Iraq and establish new authorities with the necessary balance of power. Unfortunately those well prepared, discussed and widely consulted plans were drastically changed. First (and it seems, it was Bremer’s initiative) Khalilzad was removed from his position before he even showed up in Iraq. Then Bremer, after only a few consultations, and despite much criticism, decided to change the plan for Iraq completely. In just a few months, a man who had completely no experience in Iraq and seemed to be unaware of the pre-war plan for Iraq, made a chain of decisions which produced a completely new situation in that country. Bremer decided that keeping the balance between the groups inside Iraq after the war made no sense.

      First of all, he dissolved the Iraqi army. The composition of Saddam Hussein’s army was based on Sunnis holding the key positions but many Shia served in the army as well. Bremer switched it into Shia who were made the key personnel and he expected that Sunnis would fill the lower ranks. He wanted to reconstitute the Iraqi army with new recruits. So one of the first decisions was the banning of soldiers who were not in the barracks or in the battlefield from serving in the Iraqi Army. The same decision applied for the Police and Secret Service. In fact, at this moment it meant the disbanding of the Iraqi Armed Forces . He ignored the fact, that US Phyops, just before the invasion dropped tons of leaflets with warning directed to the Iraqi soldiers, that they have to stay in their homes in order to be brought back to the army after the war. The dissolution of the Iraqi Army, according to CPA Order number 2, made 385,000 armed, trained and quite well paid people unemployed. It meant those middle-class people couldn’t feed their families. Moreover, 285,000 policemen and 50,000 of Hussein’s Republican Guard were also dissolved, making the number of unemployed as high as 720,000 people who used to constitute the entire security system. Together, along with an ill-conceived “De-Baathifaction” policy, To create a new security system, at least few months was needed. In this period the Coalition Forces were responsible for keeping the law and order in the whole country. Another CPA order (released a little-bit earlier), dissolved also all civilian authorities of all main branches. Along with mashing of all Saddam’s system remnants, Paul Bremer removed all professional and experienced personnel of country infrastructure. Three highest layers of administration, responsible for every sphere of public life, from electricity or transportation, up to hospitals management were removed. In this case another 100,000 of people became unemployed. The chaos in the country was imminent.
Three years later, a new political cabinet composed of Iraqis was established. Together with the parliamentary elections which took place half year earlier, it was a plan for the democratizing of Iraq. In the parliament, as well as in the government, all main religious and cultural groups were included: Sunnis, Shia, Kurds. It was meant to be a national unity government, headed by PM Nouri Al-Maliki. Maliki was Shia, but he convinced US authorities that he would include all the important parties of Iraq . Unfortunately, in fact he did everything he could to bring the Shia to absolute power in Iraq, totally marginalizing all other groups. Even Iranians from Teheran University, asked by author of this text admitted that Maliki was not a good leader for building the national unity authorities (the author asked Dr Mohammada Hassan Khani, from Islamic Azad University in Teheran, during a conference at Łódź University, 7th of November 2014). At the same time, from the Iraqi prisons were released people who were supposed to be charged for political reasons. The problem was that most of the documents were destroyed during the military operation or burned by the security forces just before coalition forces entrance into the Baghdad in 2003. The new authorities didn’t always try enough to research the background of the candidates for the key positions in the country. Because of that, such people like Khalil Jalil Hanza, were put into positions of power (governor of the Al-Qadisiyah province). This man was travelling often to Iran for instructions and he led anti-Sunni politics. He was also fighting other Shia groups. All of that was very well known to Coalition Forces intelligence but they usually couldn’t do anything about it without complete control of the border. Under such conditions, the transfer of money for projects aimed in the rebuilding of Iraqi infrastructure, in fact ended up in hands of governor. He used it to enforce his position in fighting against other “war-lords” or increased his private fortune. When Coalition Force commanders decided to bypass the Divaniyah governor and to transfer the money for the heads of the main families, Hanza accused Polish or Bulgarian officers of direct support for terrorism. I experienced that myself, during one of the meetings with him in Camp Delta, south of Diwaniyah, when he accused Bulgarian Brigade Deputy Commander for support of terrorism. During the negotiations I was responsible for interpreting into polish language, and in some point he directed his accusation against me too, blaming me for lying and cheating in the translations.
Fights were evolving between all other breakdowns: Shia-Sunni, Shia-Kurds, and as most powerful, Shiites fought against other Shiite groups too. Shia Iraqis who lived in Iran and fought against Iraq in Iraq-Iran war (1980-1988), constituted the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq on exile. This body was created with use of the example of Iranian highest authority. The aim was to be prepared to rule the future Iraq. The moment for that came in 2003 just after invasion. This council was a basis for the Badr organization. Badr squads supported Nouri Al-Maliki’s government of in 2006. They also formed the religious militia, which was accused by the Kurds and Sunnis of being persecution of all other groups in Iraq. On the Iraqi side, the group of Iranian Shiites had it’s base, under Saddam Hussain’s supervision. They were also refugees, and fought on the Iraqi side in the Iraq-Iran war (1980-88). Those people – Mujahedin Al-Khalq, living in Camp Asharaf in eastern Iraq, were especially hated by the Iranian authorities. After 2003 another strong group of Shia fought against other Shia groups. It was Sadri organization (commanded by Muqtada Al-Sadr) and it was very well known to polish troops because of the Karbala battle.
Kurds, who had homogeneous community in the northern and north-eastern Iraq, strived for autonomy. But at the same time, Kurds were divided into many political parties, sub-cultural groups and have also different political aims. Seeing the growing chaos and violence in the other parts of the country, they distanced themselves as much as they could from the central government. Kurdish actions aimed in the separation from the Iraq provoked Iraqi Shia authorities. Also Turkey did not perceived Kurdish actions as a positive step. Their situation changed only after the Islamic State came to life in Iraq, when many international actors supported Kurds openly. Kurdish struggle against so called Islamic State, brought them US diplomatic support and shortly military equipment assistance. US started bombardment of IS positions which was coordinated with Kurdish fighters. Kurdish state in Iraq and north-east Syria is now as strong as never before and it seems that it is permanent situation.
After withdrawing of the US troops from Iraq in 2011, Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and his Shia Militia, wanted to prevent Sunnis from creation another separate state. The aim was to keep the control of what left from the country, but also to keep total power of Shia over other groups. Shia militia was very brutal, made raids on the villages inhabited by Sunnis, killing or abducting the people.The Shia were now in all the positions of power and the Sunni found themselves deprived of any political representation in Baghdad, or banned from taking any key positions in the Iraqi army, police or any other key service. This marginalization ultimately led to disaster.

Situation in Syria and Libya
In 2011 in Syria, rebellion exploded; an effect of the Arab Spring , it was brutally pacified by the forces of Bashar Al-Assad . Such pacification was not unique in the region. On the same wave of the “Arab Spring”, people in Bahrain or Yemen were in a state of revolt and were killed in the same way as in Syria. Syria was – and still is – the ally of Iran, supporting both Hezbollah and Hamas, both of which are threatening Israel. The support of Hamas by Iran and Syria was (and still is) a cynical game, because Hamas is closely connected to the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology which is at another pole of the divisions in the Middle East. The only reason for Iran’s support for Hamas is just having the basis and people who can help them to threaten Israel: Palestinians are the ultimate victims of those games which are played by the strongest in the region, which is another tragedy . All those circumstances drew the attention of the western world against Bashar Al-Assad; The West accused the president of Syria of being a cruel and brutal dictator and supported the rebellion. The FSA was prepared, trained and armed in southern Turkey or later in northern Syria by the French and US (inter alia) military advisers. The problem, which at the very beginning was hushed up in the western media, was that in the ranks the rebel forces, more and more Al-Qaeda fighters were appearing. Those well prepared, experienced and armed people, of the same faith and most often aims, were warmly welcomed by the rebellion’s leaders. In June 10, 2013, Abdel Basset Al-Tawil, commander of the northern front of the FSA, admitted in an interview in Al-Jazeera that he cooperated with Al-Nusra and his aim is to build together with them a state based on Islamic rules (Syria: searching for the “lesser evil” in: https://mmilczanowski.wordpress.com/2014/12/17/syria-government-rebels-extremists/). He mentioned that Sharia law is not a problem for them and that they agree with Al-Nusra in matters of ideology. If we add that support of the Sunni rebellion in Syria was also very much in the interest of the Gulf Countries (especially Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), itt shows why the FSA and Al-Nusra were so strong.
In the Spring of 2011, Muamar Qadafi in Libya was murdered after another rebellion – also caused by the Arab Spring, and evolving similarly as in Syria. The “rebellion” in was in fact the least typical of the any other “revolution” in the region. It was not the result of a mass movement as in Egypt or Tunesia, but rather clans – unhappy that their rival Qadafi ruling for so long. They persuaded French president Nicolas Sarkozy, with the large role of journalist Bernard-Henri Levy, that they had prepared a national unity government and that they would form a “model country” in post-Qadafi Libya (The shocking report of the circumstances of the revolt in Lybia, is well written by the Steven Erlanger: By His Own Reckoning, One Man Made Libya a French Cause, The New York Times, April 1, 2011). For France and for the new US President Barack Obama, it seemed to be a great opportunity to show a much better model of political transformation in the Middle East than the model George W. Bush presented. They had the support of the Arab League, African Union, and most importantly – of the UN. For both countries, such a victory over a “bad dictator” seemed very beneficial in terms of their internal and international policy: Of course, oil was also important cause of action.
The of the Western decisions was the removal of the Qaddafi clan from power and another cauldron of chaos in the region. What could, and should have been foreseen, is that rival clans and extremists from the southwest – such as Al-Qaeda of the Maghreb – were most happy to remove the Libyan leader. For them, it was the dreamed-of situation to strengthen their position. Disaster in that country also caused more problems for Iraq, because huge arsenals of weapons were emptied very soon after regime collapse. Those arms were spread to all extremists in the region but a large part was transported through the Sahara Desert, underneath tunnels to Gaza and further to northern Syria. It was mean to supply Syrian rebels fighting Assad, but in fact, it fell into the hands of Al-Nusra. This gave this Al-Qaeda branch another impulse to take the lead not only in the fight against Assad, but also for something much more. Finally, a large group of Al-Nusra members, some parts of the FSA and the most radical people coming there from all over the world ultimately formed the new group calling themselves Islamic State. The idea was to join all the territories in the north of Syria inhabited by the Sunni people, topple the Assad regime and create a nation- state throughout Syria and cross the border to connect with the Iraqi Sunnis, who were in a desperate position defending themselves against the Shia militia (which hasn’t changed, even in face of the IS threat : Iran’s Shiite Militias Are Running Amok in Iraq 21 February 2015, http://www.irannewsupdate.com/news/terrorism/1950-iran-s-shiite-militias-are-running-amok-in-iraq.html). That IS growth and giving up the illusions of being “good rebels” fighting against Assad, caused the USA to commence air operations against Syria and stop supplying the FSA with arms. Abandoning the FSA made IS the only force in that area. When IS grew into real importance, their actions became much better prepared and they began a wave of of unprecedented brutality in order to threaten people in the region and to make it attractive to mercenaries or extremists who would like to join. The US government seemed confused and sent ambivalent signals; sometimes cooperation with Iran or Assad against IS, sometimes urging for the removal of the Syrian regime. Unfortunately it wasn’t the effect of the flexibility of US actions, but rather a lack of the strategy. During the same time, France, so active in 2011 in toppling Qadafi and supporting o the FSA, under new president Francois Hollande stayed quiet and otherwise preoccupied. Levy was giving interviews of how greatly democracy is burgeoning in Lybia (Mehdi Hasan interview: Meddling in other people’s business? Head to Head, Al-Jazeera, 08 Jun 2013 http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/headtohead/2013/06/2013661301564183.html) – in exactly the same way as a few years earlier, Thomas Friedman wrote in Newsweek that Iraq was becoming a model democracy (Thomas L. Friedman. 2005. “A Day to Remember.” New York Times. 154(53114): A27; Thomas L. Friedman. 2004. “Iraq, Ballots and Pistachios.” New York Times. 154(53061): 13). Propaganda is not so easy to spread in democracies. In both cases, the facts showed how cynical those most famous of journalists were.

IS in Iraq
The so-called Islamic State, using the chaos and very difficult position of the Iraqi Sunni, entered the Iraq. Many Iraqi Sunnis, having the choice of an unpredictable and totally hostile Shia militia or the brutal but at least Sunni Islamic State, chose the latter. According to Ahmed, with whom I’ve met in Turkey earlier this year, (Ahmed wanted to stay anonymous, which is understandable as he lives in Turkey with its complicated geopolitical situation between the Kurds and IS right now) after entering a village, IS kills all the soldiers and policemen and establishes establishes very hard conditions for living. But the villagers know that they will survive. Moreover, if they do not serve in the military or police and simply obey the new rules, they will have some safety, food and water, the basic levels of Maslov’s Pyramid. For many of those people, it is deliverance after oppressive Shia oppressions; they also have now a chance for their own country. Even if it’s brutal right now, they have the hope that after the country entrenches oneself, it will become easier with the rules and conditions of living.
In the same time, US policy in the region, was so ambiguous that all sides accuse them of supporting of the others. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Sunnis from Iraq claimed that USA and EU supports Iranian authorities to get a nuclear deal. From the other side, Ayatollah’s regime, Bashar Al-Assad and many Egyptians accuse US of supporting IS and Al-Qaeda. They claim that wars and chaos in the region are useful for US leadership. Paradox of this situation is, that both sides are partially right. Both Presidents of the USA of this period (2003-2013) improved the situation of Iran, causing it’s advantage over Iraq. George W. Bush, broke the balance of power between those countries. Barack Obama on his turn, striving for the nuclear deal with Iran, to prove his leadership and soft power abilities. By such actions President Obama allow Iran to spread it’s influences in the region and dominate the Iraq, support Shia in Yemen, Bahrain, enforce Syria regime. On the other hand, it can’t be denied, that US and France supplied FSA in Syria which helped a lot Al-Nusrah and IS. Even if it was not their intention, it does not take out the blame off them.
As a result, we have seen the development of the so- called Islamic Statewhich has strong social support and political justification, even if the West does not want to realize that. Of course, there is no justification for the terrorist methods used by IS. They are disgusting and are not a result of any religion, but rather a radical ideology, being the convergence of misinterpreted and cherry-picked fragments of the Qur’an and tendentious assorted Hadiths of dubious veracity, or sometimes simply propaganda slogans. The IS concept is far closer to fascism, which is also called Islamism or Islamo-fascism; it is, in any event, a totalitarian ideology. The tragedy of the situation is that such a radical ideology is now considered deliverance from 12 years of humiliation, threats, persecution and chaos for the Sunnis of Iraq. Sunnis have been deprived of their country, pushed into the margins of social life, banned from any political life, and later , armed with weapons from Libya or using the funds of Al-Qaeda, Qatar, KSA and others. The rest was made by the extremists from Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra and IS.

Conclusions
In the present situation, there is no other way but to divide Iraq. The Kurds have defined borders and if nothing new happens, they will stay with it. And it is the most optimistic version of their policy. Many Kurds (especially those from abroad) claims that those small pieces of Kurdistan in northern Iraq and small scraps in Syria are far from enough: Their aim is to unite all Kurdish territories. And again, all those who support the Kurds fail to comprehend that it may well lead to another great war with Iran and Turkey or to continuous acts of terror in their territories. In the case of Iraq, even more imminent is the struggle between Shia and Sunnis. Any peaceful process of deciding where the line of division between Sunni North and Shia South could run is very difficult to imagine. Such a division without international arbitrage (which again is very difficult to imagine) means yet another war or series of wars. My friend Ahmed from Iraq (during our discussion in Turkey), said that even the south from Al-Hillah the territories fully belong to Sunni. On the other hand, the Shia will never let go from the line of north of Baghdad. It meand that discrepancy between the two is a belt of the most higly- developed and historical part of Iraq some 100 km wide: Between them is the ancient Babylon and many sacred places of both religious groups, which will serve as a cause for fresh wars for many years to come. Any attempt at international involvement – especially from the West – will be received as the a Sykes-Picot agreement, which even in the West, is now seen as the root of all of the troubles. The war between Shia and Sunni will be a casus belli for Turkey to intervene to protect the Sunni people and to limit the Kurds powers.
We always have to find some (even most academic) solution for the situation; in 2003 there were many possibilities on the table. from 2003 to 2008, the situation got much worse but still there were some possibilities of building a National Unity Government. Even in 2011, there were still some chances for a lesser evil which could stabilize the rest of the country south from Kurdistan. After that moment, when IS became the only alternative for the Sunni, the situation became even much more difficult. In summer of 2014, President Obama admitted that he has no strategy for IS. It means that the US administration is not able to start any coordinated and well prepared actions in case of IS seizing the area: All this happened despite the numerous think-tanks, advisers with the best knowledge and representation of all the Iraqi groups who could be summoned in Washington DC to find best solution. One thing is perfectly sure and the US administration should face it; there is no universal solution (like democracy in 2003, withdrawal and hope that it will be better in 2011, or bombing IS in 2014 and 2015). It is impossible to point out any single approach or action, and even a complex strategy is very difficult to succeed in Iraq. But even in such conditions, a comprehensive strategy is needed for Iraq very soon: A strategy which is not concentrated just on US interests or interests of the actors in the region, but on a quick cease fire and establishing a peace process with a two (Kurdistan – Iraq) or three (Kurdistan – Sunni part – Shia part) state solution. Such a solution would have to be worked out by talks which need to be led by the US and include Turkey, Iran, the Gulf States and Israel. But it has to be concentrated on Iraqis and their situation not on carving-up the oil-pie. I know how controversial it is for many to place these actors in these hypothetical talks, but a proxy war leads to a situation where without the withdrawal of outside actors funds or forces, improvement is impossible. As an answer to the question in the title, IS is the result of the Iraqi drama and dealing with just the results is pointless. The cause of the grim drama playing out day after day is a proxy war in Iraq where Iran, with use of its deadly militias, fights the Sunni and their deadly proxies, IS or Al-Qaeda. Both sides use extreme methods and the Iraqis are the just a tools and victims in these political wars for influence, oil, money and power. Only way of stabilizing the situation with respecting the rights of the each group inside Iraq is the real power in Iraqi government which is eager to build consensus or division of Iraq into three parts.

Map from the page: https://thesinosaudiblog.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/mid-east-religion.jpg

Syria: searching for the “lesser evil”

Introduction written in December 17, 2014.

I have originally posted this article on April 28, 2013 in World Outline: http://theworldoutline.com/2013/04/make-peace-not-war-for-syria/. I just added the introduction and the new conclusions to the old text.

The reason why I post it here also is that US president Barack Obama stated that he wants to intensify efforts to overthrow Syrian President – Bashar al-Assad. The same attitude was presented almost two years ago and the situation in Syria from that time has worsened very much. I like to present the article I issued then, when the situation was not such disastrous as it is today and I like to be like a warning to not make the same mistake as then.

Text of the article from April 28, 2013

There are always extreme situations which require military engagement, but it should only be the ultimate solution. This article argues that extremist influences in Syria are the real threat the world should be considering in the Syrian conflict.

The author, as a former soldier, is not a man who believes in a world without wars, but understands how wrong wars are. “Making peace and not war” sounds idealistic, or even unrealistic, but it should be the real mantra for any powers who have influence on the internal situation in Syria. It is not true that there are no diplomatic solutions in this conflict. Just the powerful countries cannot get consensus of what should be the solution for Syria.

Others – key players in the region – want to benefit from the situation without thinking about the victims of that war, which has been well described in Why the West should arm Syria rebels and Why the West Shouldn’t arm Syrian rebels. The West is in favour of ousting President Bashar al-Assad and subsequently establishing a new government of national unity. But at the same time, other opinions expressed by Russia and China call for dialogue and cooperation between the president and the opposition.

In Syria it seems that the only solution is to bring together government and rebels to fight against extremist tendencies within the opposition movement. In other words, the West should be more afraid of Al-Qaeda-like organisations than of Iran and its influence, as it is impossible to fight against too many enemies. Arming and supporting one of the conflicting sides, even if it is political or with non-lethal equipement, only pushes Syrians and outside fighters to engage deeper in heavy clashes. It has turned the conflict into a proxy war and it seems that it is spiralling out of the control of any party involved in the conflict.

In this situation, shipping arms to any side will just make the situation worse. Moreover, most of the world already agrees that the real threat for the people in Syria comes from extremists, who are not fighting either for the Syrian government or the opposition. Those fighters aim to destroy the previous order and to build some kind of unity spreading over boundaries, with an extremist idea and in opposition to most of the known world orders.

Those movements, like Al-Qaeda or Al-Nusra, have large support bases in some countries, and gain influence all over the world; especially in weak states, where war and chaos resulted in weak state structures. To defend itself against this kind of enemy, all – the West and Middle East, Far East – should find a way to build consensus. Key world players involved in the Syrian conflict (USA-EU and Russia-China) need to take a common stance to face this situation. Regional powers, such as Turkey, Iran, Egypt or Israel, would welcome a consensus. The main obstacle in doing so however, is Bashar al-Assad and his regime, because the West sets the removal of the regime as a condition to support any negotiations.

Russia and China argue for forcing the rebels and Al-Assad to negotiate, however, any situation of divided powers will enhance disagreement within Syria and strengthen the influence of extremists. Moreover, rebels are in mainly cooperating closely with the extremists, who are dominated by anti-Iran and anti-Assad propaganda. From another point of view, the opposition, which is divided cannot establish a credible leadership.

The most important question for the rebels in Syria is, what they can offer when winning the struggle for power? The case of Syria seems to be more like the situation in Libya than in Tunisia or Egypt. In Libya we had foreign intervention backing the side of the opposition, which was not united but formed of opposing tribes. In Tunisia or Egypt, the opposition was united with the military against the regime. However, even if the society composition in Syria is completely different from that in Libya, both are deeply divided.

As long as this turmoil is sustained, radicals are gaining advantage. Their power is the result of the support of the Syrian people, who are terrified by the calamities and depravity of war. Therefore, they are willing to support anyone who will give them stability. Arming rebels will bring the country to its knees sooner rather than later, and the moment will come when all sides will understand that this process only leads to the ruin of the country – not only in the sphere of infrastructure but it also changes the minds of the people involved.

Some comparison could be made to the conflict in Mali, which showed that, with the emergence of a common new enemy, common ground can be found to rebuild unity inside the country. In the Malian conflict, Tuaregs were returning to the position of the government because the worst enemy for both sides were the extremists. Such a strong, brutally determined and radical enemy should wake foreign powers to seek lesser evil. Most importantly, trying to unite the Syrian people to avoid the breaking apart of the society – as it is happening in Iraq – is the most important thing.

The best option would be to implement the arms embargo for every side fighting in this conflict. However, it will be impossible to stop the flow of weapons from Iran or Libya to the Syrian government and to the extremists from Iraq or Saudi Arabia to Syria. This makes the need even to bring rebels and government members to negotiations even more urgent.

The situation in Syria seems to get more complicated with every week. There is no easy way out of the civil war, but there is a burning need to decide on the lesser evil as the solution to the crisis. This lesser evil would be to support peace negotiations and hold up extremist influences as a common enemy of Syrian government forces and opposition members.

Conclusions for the December 17, 2014:

Following my conclusions from nineteenth months ago, I have to say, that the situation got much more complicated because there are still so called “rebels” fighting but the Al-Qaede and it’s affiliates has evolved into the so called Islamic State. In June 10, 2013, Abdel Basset Al-Tawil CO of the northern front of FSA admitted in the interview in Al-Jazeera that he cooperate with Al-Nusra and his aim is to build together with them a state based on Islamic rules. The interview shows that this commander’s ideology is closer to IS than to the western values imposed on “Rebels”. I strongly believe, that the policy of closing eyes for the complexity of the Middle East and dividing people on good – those who support West and wrong – those who doesn’t is extremely dangerous.