It Is A War Against Sunni Arabs
02 August 2016
By Eyad Abu Shakra
The other day the US State Department published its annual report about global
terrorism for 2015; and again Iran came on top among states supporting
terrorism. However, within a few hours ''Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandes'', the deputy
commander of the 'Popular Mobilization Forces' – geographically Iraqi, but
politically Iranian – spoke of his preparations for ''liberating'' the town of
Fallujah. As he was speaking, banners, pictures and symbols in the background
gave away his and his organization's true pro-Iran identity and allegiance.
Incidentally, Al-Muhandes is still regarded by Washington as a 'terrorist'!
Furthermore, General Qassem Suleimani, the Commander of Al-Quds Brigade of
Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), – also labelled and sought by
Washington as a 'terrorist' – is regularly and freely moving about in Iraq,
Syria and perhaps Lebanon too, conducting a sectarian cleansing campaign, as
well as visiting Russia from time to time!
This is what is taking place with regards to Iran's aiding, abetting and
sponsoring terrorism, but is still not proving an obstacle to it becoming
Washington's regional de facto ally in the war against a dubious organization
called ISIS! On the other hand, heading the list of Washington's new
operatives in the 'war against ISIS' in Syria are armed Kurdish organizations
long regarded as ''terrorist'' by Turkey, America's old ally, and other armed
Kurdish gangs many Syrians accuse of being 'agents' of Bashar al-Assad's
The above and what we have been reading and hearing about US official and
media positions, point to the notion that by using the 'war against ISIS' as a
pretext, Washington is going ahead with a strategic gamble on the Kurds
despite the possible negative regional repercussions on the Middle East's
entities; as well as intentionally turning a blind eye to Iranian expansionist
policies reaching as far as Yemen.
I think Washington's Middle Eastern policies have been frequently misread
during the last five years. We were told that it ''was no more interested in
the Middle East'' but is rather seeking to concentrate its efforts on ''more
important and sensitive areas'' in the world.
Then we heard there was some sort of ''confusion and hesitation'' in the White
House whose master has little belief in the benefits of foreign interventions,
especially after the Iraq War experience. We also read a lot that Barack
Obama's top priority was the economy and internal affairs, NOT foreign
relations. Later on, some suggested that Washington ''realised it was wrong to
give its rash blessings to the 'Arab Spring' …'' when Islamists became the
early winners in Egypt and Tunisia, and extreme terrorist organizations
appeared on the scene in Libya, Syria and Yemen, thus exacerbating armed
conflicts that made foreign intervention necessary.
There may have been some truth in all the above, however, the overall picture
is much more sinister and dangerous; and it has been what was uncovered by
President Obama's recent series of interviews, and translated step by step on
the ground since the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran.
The fact of the matter is that Washington has not abandoned the Middle East,
is neither ''confused nor hesitant'', has not discarded foreign relations, and
is not ''correcting'' its previous misreading and actions, specifically those
related to the invasion of Iran that led to handing it on a platter to Iran.
I believe this administration knows exactly what it is doing, and if a proof
is ever needed, look no further than how it is hiding the full facts of its
Iran deal from the American public.
Indeed, it is engaged in a direct political campaign and a proxy military
campaign against its old Middle Eastern allies, namely, the Arabs and the
It is also laying the foundations for a new map for the region which will
replace the post-First World War map. Almost 100 years ago, the Middle East
witnessed two major developments that led to the current shaky map: Britain
and France inherited the vanquished Ottoman Empire becoming the two
'mandatory' powers, and a 'Jewish homeland' was promised and later
established. What we are about to witness, with Washington's blessings and
actions, is a new Iranian 'mandate' and a new 'Kurdish homeland' extending
from As-Suleimaniyah to the eastern Mediterranean.
In the meantime, American media, more specifically its liberal wing, is now at
the forefront of a crusade against 'Islamic extremism'; meaning Sunni
American liberal media seems to forget – or prefers to forget – that
Washington exploited armed extremist Islamist, such as the Afghan 'Mujaheddins',
for decades; using them in its global confrontations with Soviet Communism. I
am sure the archives of the New York Times – currently a bit too selective in
blaming 'the others' – contain loads of documents proving the close
co-operation between American and Pakistani intelligence agencies during the
Afghan War against Moscow's Red Army; specifically, the strong links between
the CIA and General Hamid Gul, the then Director-General of the Inter-services
Intelligence (ISI) in Pakistan. I also believe the NYT know quite enough not
only about those who financed the extremist Islamists – who later
metamorphosed into Al-Qaeda – but more importantly, those who trained and
As for ISIS, I reckon the NYT, the Washington Post and others have enough
information about the long standing and sinister relations between the Syrian
and Iranian intelligence agencies with self-claimed 'Islamist' terror groups,
beginning with Al-Qaeda and finishing with ISIS.
On the media front, too, a prominent Washington Post analyst and senior
editor, recently appeared on an Arab TV news channel to say that given the
''current combat map in Syria'', the 'Syrian Democratic Forces' (SDF) militia
is in Washington's calculations the only reliable armed group capable of
fighting ISIS. The senior editor was realistic enough to point at ''the
current map'' but found no need to explain why we reached such a situation. He
did not feel the need to say why for five years Washington behaved the way it
did; why it refused time and time again to give the 'Free Syrian Army' the
required weapons capable of confronting the regime as well as the mushrooming
extremist terror groups which appeared with the passing of time with valuable
help from several intelligence agencies. In fact, today, thanks to
international collusion with the Al-Assad regime, well-orchestrated conspiracy
against the Syrian popular uprising, and its tacit support of the
Russo-Iranian armed intervention in Syria, Washington is working overtime to
bluff the whole world about linking a 'future Syria' with the SDF which is a
secessionist Kurdish militia that has nothing to with 'democracy' and does not
believe in 'one' Syria.
In short, what we are witnessing is a real war against Sunni Arabs that will
end with a new 'Middle East' which will sow the wind only to reap the
Eyad Abu Shakra is the managing editor of Asharq Al-Awsat. He has been with
the newspaper since 1978.