Tag Archives: War

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.

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

Charlie Hebdo: Islam vs islamism

0003S06V8MF92JIX-C116-F4The day after tragedy in the office of the French satiric magazine Charlie Hebdo, politicians and most of the journalists, keeping the political correctness, express their outrage on the extremists, fanatics or just criminals. But most of the social networks and some right-wing politicians and media put it straight: Islam, as the whole, is guilty.  Muslims at all, according to them, are not capable of peaceful living in the western and also in any other culture. Most peoples say Muslims are guilty, because they do not want to integrate with other societies. They are violent because their religion is aggressive.

There are two groups of people like me, who call for the understanding. Not for tolerance of any kind of behaviour and any extremism, but fair treatment of any people despite the religion. One group, after such barbaric act – joined the chorus of those who desire the revenge on all Muslims. Others, try to stay reasonable, search for the sources of problem, and methods of treatment – not further radicalisation.

Radicalism is the thing we need to deny and condemn. Fighting Muslim minorities, is counter productive for peace and stability and same cruel as tragedy in Paris. Sending “them” back… but where? “They” were born in the Western countries. “Their” ancestors were often persuaded to come to Europe to work for the rich societies. For Europe to be tolerant meant allowing for everything according to “multi-culti” approach, which was a tragic mistake. West sponsored even people who were known from radicalism, because they were meant to “normalise” and praise their “benefactors”. When in Trafalgar Square British flag was torn or burned none got arrested because those who did it were “Muslims” – so we can’t provoke them. When in British city Rotherham young girls were raped systematicly (Dennis Prager 1,400 English Girls Raped by Multiculturalism (http://www.nationalreview.com/article/387428/1400-english-girls-raped-multiculturalism-dennis-prager) it was also called “political correctness” and “tolerance”. Not to provoke “Muslims”. Rotherham became a tragic and sad symbolic result of so called “tolerance” and inter-cultural politics of the West.

By the time in the Middle East, societies produced new name for people who just use the Islam, but are in fact very far from Quran. The word is “Islamism”. Islamism is not any religion and it is not connected to Islam, just uses Islam insulting it in fact. My friend from Iran @SaloumehZ in summer 2014 called it islamo-fascism  (https://twitter.com/search?q=saloumehz%20islamofacism&src=typd). She is an opposition to the so called “moderate” Iranian regime which executes from political reasons, second highest number of people in the world, just after China. West negotiate with Iran and just few days ago prezident Obama called Iran a ‘Very Successful Regional Power’ (http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/obama-iran-can-be-very-successful-regional-power_822522.html). My friend from Egypt wrote that radicals high-jacked the Egyptian Revolution (https://twitter.com/search?q=pharaohn%20radicals&src=typd). And yet West just condemned it’s new (military) president – Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, even if he was supported by the vast majority of Egyptians. President el-Sisi just day before the massacre in Paris called for a ‘religious revolution’ (http://edition.cnn.com/2015/01/06/africa/egypt-president-speech/), asking Muslim leaders to help in the fight against extremism. These are just a few examples of calls from the Middle East. Those calls are for those who cares and who could make a change. Yet the policy of the Western powers, was, and it is still, composed of the two most destructive points: 1. total “tolerance” in the West, and 2. conflicting for the oil and gas in the Middle East. In short, we start conflicts, which produce destabilization, to reach-out for the energy sources and because of this destabilization and lack of perspectives many immigrants come to the Europe. Between them many are extremists. For those people we create the best possible ground for further radicalisation and dragging there others. We not only tolerated their schools, universities, which are completely separate from the country education system (like it is with MeK – Mujahadeen-e-Khalq), but also finance their radical ideas and actions.

In the same time we call the Middle Eastern leaders to be more “moderate” in fighting the extremism. Imprisoning of journalists in Egypt is of course unacceptable, but from other side, Egypt have to curb radicals who try to connect to the ISIS. If Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and/or Bedouin tribes from Sinai establish permanent links to ISIS, but also to AQAP from Yemen, AQ and other extremists from Libya and Hamas, and get sponsorship from Qatar, it will be to late to regret, that another country fell into the chaos! There is a need of support for the regimes which have support of the people in their country, and are not hostile to the region or neighbours, even if they cross the line of the so called “Western democracy”. We should answer ourselves the questions like that: why president of Egypt do not start any persecutions of the Christians or even Shiites, and have a good relations with the Jews? Why he has still strong support of vast majority of Egyptians, despite deep economical crisis? Is El-Sisi aggressive toward his neighbours? In fact thanks to the GCC and Egyptian diplomacy right now he reconcile even with Qatar, what is very well visible, diminishing the tensions, and cutting off the financial support for the extremists. During Morsi’s presidency Egypt was radicalising inside, religious militias started to introduce sharia law. Outside, there was a growing tension with neighbours – strong political conflict and even sounds of possible military actions when president Morsi was struggling with Ethiopia over the Nile Dam project. Under Sisi there are no such conflicts. His primary opponents are the Muslim Brotherhood, who are the same Sunni branch.

As a conclusion, we need to see the difference between Muslims and islamists. Muslims know the difference very well, they underline it, and they also try to realise it to us. We have to understand it and we have to be on the same side with them against islamists. Western generalisations and radicalism, because of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, will not repair anything. Outrageous crying to send all Muslims back to the Middle East is nonsense. Searching for revenge on Muslims is even more than nonsense – its wrong, because when Islamists shout – that all Western people have to die, there are no innocent people in Europe or USA, we would do the same pointing at all Muslims as criminals. It is the path with death end. As I wrote almost two years ago, repeated it in December, (https://mmilczanowski.wordpress.com/2014/12/17/syria-government-rebels-extremists/), I will write it again: We have to fight extremists – islamists – islamo-fascists in the Europe and support such fight in the Middle East. Fighting have to be made by the proper law – in the European countries, denying islamism, in the same way as fascism, international law, diplomacy, or, if it is necessary, by military. Fighting them should be proceeded together with Middle-eastern partners not just when IS is threatening. But also we should see our interest in the Middle East more long-sighted. Stabilization in the Middle East can be brought, and it would be beneficial first for the middle-eastern societies but then also for the Europe and for the USA, but the right perspective and very good policy is needed.

Midterm elections in USA: optimistic approach to the last two years of Obama presidency

Image-for-Midterm-Recap-PostMidterm elections in USA showed a huge win of Republicans Party. In both: U.S. House of Representatives and in Senate, Republicans, after elections have majority and can halt every presidential initiative which have to be passed by those two bodies. Even if this majority is not enough to reject the President’s veto, it is still huge change in US political scene. In such situation almost all analysts predicts, that President Barack Obama decision making process will be paralysed and this president will stay inactive, up to the end of 2016 when his presidency will terminate. But there is also another possibility, which in #MyPointOfView is more plausible.

Just after the results became undeniable, President of the USA issued such statement:
“Yesterday, millions of Americans cast their ballots. Republicans had a good night, and I congratulate all the candidates who won. But what stands out to me is that the message Americans sent yesterday is one you’ve sent for several elections in a row now. You expect the people you elect to work as hard as you do. You expect us to focus on your ambitions — not ours — and you want us to get the job done. Period. I plan on spending every moment of the next two years rolling up my sleeves and working as hard as I can for the American people.”
We can see it with ambiguity. From one point of view it could be understood as President admitting, he did nothing, or at least not much, until now and just from this moment he will roll-up his sleeves to get to work. Such view is expressed by his opponents, which are obviously in great majority in the US. Those opponents most often say, president will stay inactive next two years, because he his party is not strong enough to pass his projects. Another point here is that president will use his vetoes which even more deepen the paralyze of the country. It will be correct if president will be just a democratic party member, and not the head of the mightiest county in the world – above particularly interest.
Looking for the options President has now in his disposal, there is also possibility of increase of the advantageous presidential activity. President Obama has a great chance of much better outcome of the last two years of his presidency, ignited by the midterm elections, than his opponents expect. He need to use the core values of the democracy, we all perceive as the best known system. If voters pointed out that US policy have to be more in line with republican ideals, President need to use those suggestions. He can be than more active than before that moment.
As far as international affairs are concerned, President Obama failed in his most important and most obvious tasks he announced, when he entered the White House. In general, it was providing the peace and stability to the world. He promised to negotiate and search of the common understanding with Middle Eastern partners, instead of forcing western solutions. This was meant to improve US appearance and it’s relations with other international actors. He planned to shift US focus to east Asia, because in Europe as well as in the Middle East it was planned to stay peaceful. Libya after the of 2011 was meant to be example of good crisis management made by new administration. Less democratic but still successful was meant to be leaving Iraq in Shia led government of PM Nouri al-Maliki. US with allies were meant to be successful in defeating Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and weakening it in Pakistan, Yemen and other parts of the region. US drone warfare and intelligence surveillance was meant to keep in control those places and regions, where are possible new threats.
Unfortunately the situation in all aspects and all dangerous regions was much more complicated (http://wp.me/p4y6QP-2h). The use of just an interim policy, with a guiding idea of Soft Power and military solutions used unofficially produced a lot of contradictions. But first of all this policy was lacking a comprehensive strategy, rooted deep in the scientifically approach to the regions of greatest threat – or great interest. Iraq under control of Shiites fall in the sphere of Iran policy and it’s control. Most of the Syrian rebels from the beginning were cooperating with extremists, simply because many of them revolted because of their anti-secular approach (http://theworldoutline.com/2013/04/make-peace-not-war-for-syria/). In the north of Iraq and Syria, abandoned Sunni people, with no representation in the governments, became more and more frustrated and some of them violent. Many of them searched for a chance for normal life in this piece of hell, but also many joined Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra or rebels in Syria. There was no clear solution of Kurdish question. Nobody started any serious negotiations between Turkey and Kurds. Turkish policy of zero problems with the neighbours, was somehow successful. Their agreement with Abdullah Ocalan and Turkish Kurds, should be just the first step to establish a better relations with Iraqi and Syrian Kurds. To achieve that (if possible at all), influential party, as a mediator, would be of great help. It should be no surprise, that when ISIS started it’s terror spreading actions, and focused on fighting the only force which was defending – Kurds, Turks were not willing to support people, they perceived as a greatest enemy. Turkish government was encouraged to support Kurds, by the many officials in the whole world, but encouraging is one thing, yet giving a good example and sending the “boots on the ground” is something completely another. No one should deny Kurds right in their struggle for their country. They show remarkable spirit, even sending their women to the battle ground. They proved they deserve their piece of land for many times. But just criticizing Turks by the people who armed and trained Syrian rebels, of whom many became IS fighter now, is great hypocrisy. Despite US efforts, Libya became another failed country and it’s masses of stored weapons after Kaddafi regime flown through the Sahara desert and the Gaza, into the Syria. Now it is used by the rebels and IS fighters in Syria and Iraq as well. This was another reason of fast growth of the ISIS and again Turkey was just the one of the last pieces of puzzle. In Libya almost next day after the Kaddafi regime fall, begun the war of the tribes and the strongest force was there Al-Qaeda of Maghreb and other extremist organizations. For a long time US tried to keep the false picture of Libyan transformation as a model, but it was not based on facts, but rather strong propaganda. In all those situations there was much more US president could have done or not done (as in the case of Libya intervention which should never happen at all). Of course it is impossible to see if he would be more successful, but many of the results could be easily predicted. Middle East did not change after president Obama’s Novruz message to Iran and Iranians. Destroyed country security structures in Iraq after 2003 and leaving this country alone in 2011 had to enforce Iran influence or even decisive role in that country. President Obama outrage on Israeli settlements in the West Bank didn’t stop Benjamin Netanyahu from his further actions of taking the Palestinian lands. The policy toward Iran is not decreasing this regime support for Hamas, aimed only in attacking Israel.
We could observe progressive change in the president Obama policy. He sent planes to bombers IS, even if he promised, he will not start any war again. He introduced sanctions against Russia even tougher than EU and supported Ukrainians with intelligence and most probably much more. He also did not resign using the sanctions against Iran, despite the growing pressure of his party to make Iran an example of the US peaceful policy success. Another symptom of more comprehensive policy was a great move by the Obama administration with agreement made with Saudi Arabia on lowering of the oil prizes. It created another leverage in both cases, most dangerous from geopolitical point of view: Iran and Russia. Both suffer very much from that move and this is a very good example, of how Smart Policy could be used. There are in the US people like John McCain who see everything possible using the military means only and Ron Paul who claims that US should withdraw from all its military activities in the world at all. President Obama pressured by the republicans can make his two final years as a moderate successful being in the middle, but using also both extremities if it would be strategically favourable.
Midterm elections will enforce that course of Obamas presidency. If he wish to live a better impression after his presidency, he could combine his views of the US role in the world and republicans, which in fact is somehow possible. It could imply coming back of the idea, which was meant to be the sole basis of his presidency: the concept of the Smart Power (http://wp.me/p4y6QP-2I). Until now he was oppressed by the “not Bush” image. Now if he wants to be active under new circumstances, he has to be “more Bush” than he imagined in 2008. He has to use much more direct military actions in the cases where it can be effective. ISIS is the example where direct military actions are expected, but using his negotiation abilities first of all he need to cut of the supplies for those extremists. Cutting of the supplies is the first rule of all military actions and art of war in general. We can easily enumerate few sources of ISIS power. Improving Turkey-Kurds relations would stop some source of ISIS support for sure. Saudi Arabia could be much better partner in fighting ISIS if there would be no threat of growing Iranian influence in the Middle East. So control of the Iraq seems to be a good plan also. New PM in that country makes some hopes, but Iranian regime becomes the rival and not ally in this case. It has many ways of activating or calming down its relations with Iraqi authorities if needed. Egypt can be a very important US ally or could be another Syria also if the military wouldn’t keep it’s supervision over the political transition process. As far as military in Egypt has so strong support of Egyptian people, criticizing president Abd al-Fattah as Sisi for being too cruel seems pointless. Egyptian president has many strong and extremely radical opponents in his country – and not only in Sinai. There is also a great issue in fighting Asad regime. Until now it produced only disaster for Syria and the region. US president should assess who will rule the Syria after Asad’s house. Using Iraqi example we should expect growing chaos and influences of Sunni monarchies but most accurate are those who predict, that falling of Asad will make t much better for the extremists. President Obama under republican pressure can be much more active in the Europe too. Rebuilding the NATO plans gives him a great opportunity to take the decisive role in situation of permanent Russian aggression in Ukraine and Russian show of force against Europe and US.
There is plenty of tools under his disposal and he and his Secretary of State in 2008, Hillary Clinton, enumerated them in general. Just it was no will of use part of them and there was not any great plan of combining them and preparation for different circumstances. As Zbigniew Brzezinski say, there was no comprehensive strategy for US role in the world. There was no contingency plans in case when the actual actions would go wrong or new threats emerge. All this can be good from two perspectives. One – it will improve his image and all democrats, whose voice is very important in the US internal debate and they should be not pushed out of scene too far. Second it could be a good starting point and preparation for a next – most probably – republican president starting in 2017. Both reasons are very important not only for president Obama, but for USA image in the world, which radicalises itself and gets more and more anti-american and anti-western.

Putin’s ambitions, Hitler and the NATO summit

It seems that President Putin has made a similar mistake as Hitler did in the years prior to and at the beginning of the World War II. Hitler believed that western countries are too used to living in comfort and too pacifistic after what happened during World War I, or even too lazy to fight wars. He thought that his eagerness and cruelty, putting nations in front of facts rather than negotiations or diplomacy, will create a situation that will facilitate his plans. Diplomacy used before the conflict an element of war strategy and was meant to give Hitler an idea of European and world leader’s willingness to fight him. His idea was that he would frighten whole world so much that no one would have enough courage to stand against him. In fact at the beginning he was quite right. But at some point he just couldn’t win because too many strong opponents were against him, and they were determined to fight to the end.
Now Putin has made pretty much the same efforts of assessing how Europe and the World view his activity in Ukraine. His clash with Georgia gave him impression that Europe and US are not ready to confront him. The Crimean Anschluss was the next move which gave him the confidence that he is the strong one and master of the situation. Sanctions were the minimum of what the world could do, and for Putin it had to look like just a smokescreen to do nothing. The best proof for it was that sanctions were announced just for a short time, and always just to the moment when Russia deescalates its activities in Ukraine. For those who knows the conflict theories it is obvious that it is not a good approach to negotiations if we at the beginning stat those measurements are just temporary. The Russians know they are doing wrong, and a weak response just strengthens the impression that the west is trying to say sorry for applying the sanctions against the Russian establishment.
I believe Putin considered letting the Donbas area go and waiting for another good moment to act. Putin’s plan seems to be easy to predict. He wants to keep Ukraine’s eastern provinces autonomous from the rest of the state. Then for a few years he can use propaganda like in the Crimea, place regular units there, invited by the autonomous government of those territories and finally hold a fake referendum like in Crimea, or otherwise take the region. The plan could work if Ukraine stays poor and divided.
But the Ukrainians are more and more against Putin because of those pro-Russian separatists which often are just ruthless mercenaries conducting war on their territory. After the Russian aggression, it seems that Ukraine is much closer to joining the EU, and most of the oligarchs escaped or are not siding with Russia now. It appears to be a good path for Ukraine to develop and improve quickly. Then there would be none who would like to join Russia and Putin would not have any occasion to play his strongest card – propaganda. The last point which is very important for Putin for his decision to invade eastern Ukraine was preparation of new elections by President Poroshenko who wanted to get rid of the Kremlin supporters and obvious Russian spies.
The false image of a divided and lazy Europe, a weak and undecided Obama and a mobilizing Ukraine, pushed Putin to the decision that there can be no better time for invading east Ukraine. He decided to invade with an unknown the number of soldiers, but reliable sources claim it is from 7 to 15 thousands of well trained experienced and well equipped soldiers. From the start they were attacking newly formed, totally inexperienced Ukrainian units surrounding Donieck. The results were obvious. The Ukrainian government was fully right giving the order of full retreat. Losing Ukrainian soldiers – many very young boys (perhaps some of my former students), was pointless. At this moment Putin claimed that he could seize Kiev in few days, Warsaw in a week and I suppose he believes that Berlin and Brussels would fall in month. What Putin did and is still is doing in Ukraine has to be enough to be a wake up call for the West. Everything done until now was based on high ambitions of one leader surrounding himself with ideologists most probably having deep antisocial personality disorder. Leader embraced with totally wrong impressions of Russian might and western weakness or inability to organize, who makes decision individually and independently ignoring opinions of people thinking otherwise. All this makes Putin similar to Hitler, although it is not enough to compare those two figures.
The ongoing NATO summit in Wales shows that Putin went too far, just like Hitler. Fortunately, post-World War II – “too far”, doesn’t mean that half of Europe has to be in flames and filled with death camps for “subhumans”.The decision of building quick reactions forces with infrastructure organized in Poland and some initial battle units, four thousand soldiers strong, ready to react in the NATO member countries, seems like a first sign of a really strong and reasonable response to Putin’s activity. We have to add, those units will not operate separately but with the national armies of attacked states. There is much more the west can do to contain Putin, and this progressive direction of NATO is inevitable now, when none have any illusions about him and his mafia state’s ambitions.

I want to thank to Nick Siekierski @ResearchTeacher for correcting of this text.