Syria seems a much more confused battlespace with a Soviet / Post-Soviet backbone supporting feudal absolute power. Russia has returned to support of a Christian church — so it can’t be about “godless communism” — but retains strong alignment with the regime in Iran and the ophthalmologist in the middle. It looks to me like the Sunni-side Arab Emirates post by Hasan Hasan favors Sunni expansion (duh smile emoticon ) with murderous ISIS as its edge, not an evil entity worthy of destruction by both Shiites and Sunnis.
From the western perspective, medievalism is on full display, and, post-Enlightenment, battle is not reason and winning or losing in the same says nothing about metaphysics. Modern Obama has invoked the term “dumb war” for staying out of the Islamic partisan wars of the middle east. Having been right to do so, he’s narrowed the American scope to fighting “The Real Terrorists” (as opposed to Assad’s version of “The Terrorists”) and has had U.S. military campaigning against “ISIL” assets and leadership.
The conversation starter — a question: “Afghanistan II?”
Nope — not Afghanistan Two or too.
The prompt for the conversation came from this report on Russian battlefield losses in the Syrian Theater:
Nearly two weeks after the Russian intervention began in Syria, one could say it has not got off to a good start. Last week, the Syrian regime launched its first ground offensive against the rebels under Russian air support.
The assault, in Hama’s northern countryside, failed spectacularly – rebels affiliated to the Free Syrian Army destroyed at least 18 tanks and held their ground.
Considering the source and the role played by partisan opinion and reporting around the Syrian Tragedy, the report of so many tanks destroyed may do with buttressing. Here it is:
The U.S.-made BGM-71 TOW missiles were delivered under a two-year-old covert program coordinated between the United States and its allies to help vetted Free Syrian Army groups in their fight against President Bashar al-Assad. Now that Russia has entered the war in support of Assad, they are taking on a greater significance than was originally intended.
“We get what we ask for in a very short time,” one commander, Ahmad al-Saud, said in an interview. He added that in just two days his group, Division 13, had destroyed seven armored vehicles and tanks with seven TOWs: “Seven out of seven.”
There’s nothing murky about it [the region] — just Human Language Programming (HLP!) in action PLUS a sub-state basis for relationship in private matters involving friendship and kinship, honor and greed. The evil deed doers, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Somalia to Kenya to Syria to Lebanon are rolling out the programming (and scripts) in their heads. They really believe that theirs is the Kingdom of God and God has only asked them to fight for it. Probably, there’s other politics involving fear and greed, humiliation and honor, but the sectarian legends and lines serve for a cover.
The next reader on the thread wrote, “That’s a fanciful explanation. This is about the rivalry between KSA and Iran for dominance of the ME.”
My response: “Dominance on behalf of what? Topside and underside, please.”
Power and wealth on the underside — and power becomes the power to make people do your will and best demonstrated by their doing things they’ve no wish to do nor much reward for doing. In that way, every “suicide bomber” becomes peon to the powerful, an exploding poem to their powerful will and accompanying political acumen, cruelty, and ruthlessness; and topside, well, the keys to Sunni or Shiite heaven, proven in glorious battle, just the same as it was 1,400 years ago.
If any such as those weep over the wars they have brought out of their dreams and to their doorsteps, they will weep again when the wake from them.
Incidental bombings may be liked to blasting caps next to dynamite: we don’t know which event will set off the larger explosion — for Beirut, a return to fighting in the streets — but we know the effect is to encourage sectarian animosity and force action on the side of the aggrieved — and all sides become aggrieved.
* * *
“The first thing I saw was half of a woman in the garden next to the trees, and then a man who had a piece of metal in his head, dead on the ground” . . . .
Rebuilt, commercial, bustlin’ and hustlin’ — and boom!
While we’re aware of the Hariri facet, shocked by the attack taking place in the heart of Beirut’s central business district, and tuned to sectarian Sunni vs. Shiite animosity region-wide, we have yet to experience the wrath of the Beirut Landlordians but may expect that the same, their insurers, and their army have been enraged at this affront to their security powers.
Unleash the investigators! says I, for this latest version of warfare in which the evildoers, the aggressors, the transgressors, disappear with their actions and keep their mouths shut afterward.
* * *
Chatah was known as a staunch critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom he accused of meddling in Lebanon’s internal affairs. Hezbollah has sent fighters to help al-Assad’s forces in the Syrian civil war.
But a little over a year after it was suspended, the death penalty was reinstated by the new Shiite-led central government. A year later, in 2005, the executions, usually by hanging, resumed.
Since then, around 500 people have been executed, according to records kept by human rights observers including Amnesty International. During the first four months of this year alone at least 50 people were hanged.
Iraq is one of the world’s most prolific executioners, as the government continues to battle against a high level of violence by armed groups. Hundreds of prisoners are currently held on death row. In 2012 a sharp rise in executions was recorded in Iraq making it the country with the third highest number of executions in the world, after China and Iran. At least 129 people were executed in 2012, almost twice the known total of 201 since the beginning of 2013 at least 83 people, including two women, have been executed.
The civil war in neighboring Syria — itself a volatile, sectarian conflict — has spilled across the border, and Sunni jihadi factions are operating in both countries. Now, four months before the next parliamentary elections, Iraq increasingly appears to be spiraling toward a civil war.
The Iraqi government plans to form a division comprised of Iraqi Shi’a militia members. This planned division will be deployed in Baghdad. This development is recognition by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that current security measures are ineffective. While the formation of this division may appeal to the Iraqi Shi’a, it may lead to further discontent by the Iraqi Sunnis. Al-Qaeda in Iraq will capitalize on the formation of this division and seek new opportunities to escalate sectarian violence in Iraq. The formation of the division will damage Maliki’s credentials and likely lead to further instability.
For those who may take a special interest in Iraq. Stephen Wicken‘s blog on which the above quoted piece by Ahmed Ali appears, updates weekly.
“Two mad wasps in a bell jar” — my analogy for Shia vs Sunni fighting in Syria would seem to hold up as well for Iraq, which looks to me to be dissolving into a purely retributive bloodbath of a civil war.
The UN’s count approaching 1,000 dead in Iraq in September appears in brief overview a reliable monthly rate with sources reporting 5,000 dead by way of political violence in the land since April of this year.
Saturday 5 October: 100 killed
Baghdad: 55 in bomb attacks.
Mosul: 5 by gunfire.
Balad: 15 by car bomb.
Baquba: 11 in separate bombings.
Yusufiya: 3 Sahwa members by IED.
Hawija: 3 Sahwa members by gunfire.
Muqdadiya: 1 by IED.
Tikrit: 3 (women and child) killed during clashes.
Falluja: 4 by gunfire, IED.
Presuming that those remote to the fighting are nonetheless getting an accurate impression of Iraq’s fully functioning if entirely off-kilter slaughterhouse, one begs to ask about motivation on the part of killers, and never mind their affiliation.
“At the root of these attacks – said Msgr. Sako – is a strong tension between the Shiite majority and the Sunni faction and this violence is clearly sectarian and confessional in nature.” In Kirkuk alone, the archbishop continued, there were four targeted killings of innocent people. “The aim – says the prelate – is to destabilize the country” because “the central government lacks unity and political force even within the same Shiite majority. There is great tension, there is no dialogue between groups and greater barriers are emerging “.
It appears in Iraq that even such things as wanton destruction and murder may become habits, first of mind in excessively perceived oppressive, anxiety-ridden, paranoid, and infernal atmospheres, i.e., the bizarre, surreal, and untrustworthy atmosphere of a war zone, and then habits in activity and action: some population has long been accustomed to the presence of firearms, ammo, explosives and, this perhaps spelling the difference between a predominantly peaceful “gun ownership” and a restless one prone to violence, a mise en scene of explosions and shootings overlaying thousands of smaller but vicious acts of intimidation and suggestion.
There’s the madness of the wasps in the bell jar in that.
The state’s monopoly on violence, as in Hussain’s day, may suppress and reduce violence in the streets, but imposed along sectarian lines, or perceived as such, it will fail.
The battle that looks like Shiite vs Sunni may turn out an unformed middle — about to be called into being out necessity — against an habituated cast of aimless, mindless, morally bankrupt and vengeful war zombies today reduced to blowing themselves up among pilgrims and school children.
No one who has retained either an ounce of their own courage or humanity can fail to see the inchoate and lost qualities in these deluded monsters who walk around with death their only real meaning.
While Robert Spencer noted recently, “. . . the idea that the Sunni-Shi’ite divide, which is 1,400 years old and goes all the way back to the murky origins of Islam, is something that can without undue difficulty be “overcome” is a sterling manifestation of the general superficiality of Washington’s analysis of the Middle East, during both the Bush and the Obama Administrations,” I would ask who is not fighting that fight today for the good reason they had on one day or another in this lifetime found the world changed when they opened their eyes.
Their numbers needs must dwarf these others.
Where are they?
Do they not understand what is killing them?
Habits of mind are like any other: one foregoes the behavior for a while, whether some form of gluttony or excessive passivity, and then, so one may hope, moves on to better thoughts and brighter days.