It seems very possible at this time that Iraq, one of the largest and more powerful countries in West Asia, will soon cease to exist. While the armed militia group known as ISIS (or ISIL) has overrun the northern part of the country, including the major cities of Mosul and Tikrit, and proclaimed a new Islamic ‘caliphate’, a virtually independent Kurd state has simultaneously emerged on the border with Turkey. The break-up is taking place amidst chaos and bloodshed, and swarms of people are fleeing the violence as refugees. The writ of the al-Maliki government is confined to a much reduced area in the south.
The present crisis in Iraq does not represent a ‘failure’ of US policy, as the global media is making it out to be. On the contrary, it represents the next stage in imperialist strategy in the region – a stage which the US imperialists and their collaborators have been preparing for some time. This is the stage of the disintegration of existing states and the redrawing of the map, in order to facilitate greater domination and exploitation of the region by imperialism.
The US invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 was intended to eliminate the government of Saddam Hussein which was seen as a roadblock to US imperialist plans in the region, and to acquire a base from which to put pressure on Iran and Syria, two countries which most openly opposed US hegemony. However, the brutal occupation of Iraq and the chaos and devastation that followed was met with fierce and growing resistance on the part of the Iraqi people. It led to growing opposition from people in the US, Britain and other countries as well.
It is in this context that the US imperialists began to prepare their strategies to convulse the region in sectarian violence. This was not only to crush the resistance to their occupation, but also to achieve the destabilisation and breakup of the established states in the region (except for their most tested allies), as the way to advance their quest for total domination. They sought to drown the resistance in Iraq in blood, through incessant bombings and other acts of terror against the people, all the time portraying this as part of an age-old fight between Shias and Sunnis and other communities. At the same time, plans for the creation of a “New Middle East” or new “Middle East and North Africa” (MENA) were drawn up in the Pentagon and the State Department of the US. In 2006, US senator Biden, who later became Obama’s Vice-President, openly proposed that the break-up of Iraq into separate Sunni, Shia and Kurd-dominated areas would be in the US interest.
Thus, while much attention was given to Obama’s moves to ‘withdraw’ US regular forces from Iraq, behind the scenes action was being taken to ensure that US imperialist domination would continue, and Iraq would never be able to regain its former sovereignty and stability. The plan was to unleash “constructive chaos” or “creative destruction” which would result not only in the break-up of Iraq, but in the creation of a totally new map of the region.
For the US, Britain and other imperialist powers, the planned destruction of countries by actively inciting infighting among different ethnic groups and nationalities is not something new. In the 1990s, they achieved the complete disintegration of Yugoslavia into several different states. Similarly, they actively plotted the disintegration of the Soviet Union and worked to draw many of its former republics into their own orbit, particularly through the agency of NATO. Both these developments served to strengthen and extend the global domination of US imperialism.
One instrument used by the imperialists in these plans is the engineering or manipulation of popular protests against different governments which are their chosen targets, by sponsoring ‘civil society’ groups and ‘moderate’ forces and assisting them to take control of mass uprisings to bring down those governments. This was clearly in evidence in many of the “Arab Spring” protests of the last few years. At the same time, the imperialist strategy also relies on the creation of armed militias to carry out the forcible overthrow of unwanted governments and to spread terror and bloodshed. The group known as ISIS was actively armed, financed and assisted in Syria by the US imperialists and the reactionary states of the region, when their efforts to overthrow the government of Basher al Assad through other means failed. Thus, while the Obama administration claims to be trying to help the al-Maliki government whom it had patronised by sending 300 ‘military advisors’, the imperialists and their local collaborators have simultaneously unleashed rebel groups like ISIS. The idea is precisely to have them all fight each other, to achieve the break-up of Iraq, and spread instability more widely throughout the region. They know very well that any new states formed through this process will continue to be hotbeds of instability. This instability is precisely what the imperialists want to achieve, in order to exploit and dominate the peoples of this region more fully. In fact, creating an arc of unstable and easily manipulated states all the way from northern Africa through western and central Asia is very much part of their design.
The present situation is reminiscent of the conditions in this region after the break up of the Ottoman empire at the end of World War I. Then too, the dominant imperialist powers, Britain and France, gained control over vast parts of this region in the name of “mandates” given to them by the League of Nations to establish “protectorates”. They used their “mandates” to redraw the map of the region, establish client states and ruling cliques, who were obliged to them, create the Zionist state of Israel in the midst of the territory of the Palestinians, and lay the seeds for endless conflicts. In today’s conditions, they are trying to do the same thing again, with the US being the leading imperialist power at this time.
The Indian working class and people must pay heed to all these developments and the fate of Iraq, and draw correct lessons from them. It would be disastrous to misjudge how far the US and other imperialist powers will go in their efforts to divide and conquer the world. It would be wrong to think that big countries like India face no danger from these plans. The chaos and destruction spawned by US imperialism has come right into our neighbourhood. Our people must be extremely vigilant against the sinister designs of the imperialist powers and oppose all attempts to be drawn into their plans.