Sarajevo in Baghdad?
When the Austrian crown prince Franz Ferdinand of Austria was shot by some Serbian ultranationalists in June 1919, this seemed like very important news but nothing more. The German troops entered Belgium until a few weeks later. The death of the Austrian crown prince had triggered a chain reaction that led to the First World War and millions of deaths in Europe and the Middle East. We still see the wounds of this on a daily basis in the Middle East.
Key figure in conflict salafism
Now this morning, the US Army has probably killed 8 soldiers not with a gunshot like the one in 1914 but with a precision rocket attack near Baghdad airport, including the Iranian brigade general Qassem Soeleimani, who is responsible for the foreign operations of the Iranian army. And that essentially concerns the fight in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq against the Salafist terror groups, Israel and the US.
The simultaneous murder of Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, the number two of the Hashd al Shaabi, the Iraqi People’s Mobilization Front, is also very important here. This front was established at the request of the supreme spiritual leader of Iraq Ali al Sistani when ISIS effortlessly conquered the city of Mosul in 2004 but also advanced to Baghdad without much opposition. It was a plan devised by the US, Israel and the EU.
Sistani, unlike his Iranian counterparts Ali Khamenei, only has an advisory role in Iraqi political life, but he has a great moral authority with many who have an essential influence on the country. Furthermore, one must also realize that for people like Soeleimani and Muhandis this is the heroic death for which one is not afraid. Heroism is something that many of their fellow believers strive for.
The ISIS attack
It was Sistani, Iran, with Soeleimani, Lebanese Hezbollah and Russia who came to Iraq in June 2014 almost the same day. For example, despite US promises and payments, Iraq had still not received the promised F16, so it was without an Air Force. With the help of Russia, Iran then sent back the planes that fled Iraq in 2003 during the American invasion of Iraq.
Hezbollah also provided training for those tens of thousands of Iraqis who had followed the call for volunteers from Ali al Sistani. The Israeli plan certainly failed because ISIS then also attacked Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan of the Barzani clan. This was against the agreements, because Barzani was part of the plot that had to give him his own state, which he could plunder even more than before.
After which, in August, as a result of the attack on Erbil, the US suddenly appeared on the scene to play the ‘savior in distress’. The attack on Erbil and the failed raid on Baghdad ensured that the US then sent troops that are still there today and essentially serve to preserve the US / Israel’s hold on the region as much as possible.
There was much opposition to that presence in Iraq, but they remained because the Iraqis would prefer not to become too dependent on Iran. Many Iraqi top politicians such as the Prime Minister and the President also have dual Western nationality. For example, President Barham Salih is a Brit and a graduate of the universities of Cardiff and Liverpool. An agent from MI6?
The man was born in the city of Soeleimania in Iraqi Kurdistan and a member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and that is the party of Jalal Talabani, the other clan leader in Iraqi Kurdistan and arch rival of the Barzani clan from Erbil. Traditionally, the Talabani clan is affiliated with Iran, while Barzani has enjoyed Israel’s support for decades. It all shows the complexity of the Iraqi chessboard (1)
Be in my way
It is currently unclear how the situation will evolve. Who is going to take which steps and in which direction you can wait until the fog in Baghdad clears up. Prime Minister Abdel Mahdi did convene the parliament in an emergency session and they wanted to demand the departure of the American troops there. Which probably won’t cause a problem.
The question is how the US will respond to this. For some, what is happening now naturally evokes memories of Barry Levinson’s 1998 Wag the Dog movie in which fictitiously provokes an American president to win a war to win the presidential election. Is that what’s the matter? A President Donald Trump who wants to win the elections this fall?
What is certain, however, is that the US and Israel are furious with Iran that stands in the way of Israeli plans to completely redraw the borders of the Middle East and transform the region into a series of mini-states based on supposedly religious and ethnic groups. Including masses of massacres and migrations and afterwards fighting each other for eternity. With Israel that provides weapons?
When in 1979 the CIA agent Saddam Hussein came to power via a coup d’etat and that same year the Shah of Iran Reza Pahlavi was driven out by the followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini via a coup, in essence the start was given for almost ten years Iraqi-Iranian war. What was a very destructive conflict and the beginning of the downfall of Iraq. Certainly after the trade embargo.
But Iran survived and rebuilt its economy and army to unprecedented heights. That is the great frustration and anger of Israel and Washington who see an obstacle – rightly so – in Tehran for their further seizure of power in the region.
That is why the sanctions against Iran are very severe. They want that country to be destroyed before it is attacked. But despite the massive destabilization attempts such as the Green Revolution of 2009, this is not possible.
Certainly after the heavy defeat in Syria and Lebanon, people are clearly looking for further revenge. It is no coincidence that the Israeli attacks on Syria started in 2017 after the liberation of Aleppo and some other strongholds from those Salafi terror groups. The war against Syria, which is expected to cost more than $ 200 billion, turned out to be a major failure.
It is clear that the intention of Israel and the US in particular is to provoke an overall war in the region in order to achieve some sort of victory. Whether that will succeed is the question. The political and military leaders in Iran, Moscow, China, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, however, are well aware of this and have not yet fallen into that trap. That is why neither Hezbollah, nor Syria or Russia, except for some harsh words, really respond.
But as Christopher Clark wrote in his basic work on WWI ‘The sleepwalkers’ (2), this murder can almost silently evolve into a large-scale war. Where one small step is followed by a new small step, and so on. And already some supporters of Trump are calling for war with Iran. It is scared to wait.
In the meantime, the VRT also appears to excel again to what can hardly be described otherwise than as a spokesperson for the White House in Washington. Jens Franssen, for example, referred to Qassem Soeleimani as “a man with blood on his hands” and “the iron fist of the regime” with further descriptions such as “controversial” and “feared.” It was as if Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, is speaking.
They also showed a video clip that Mike Pompeo had put on Twitter, arguing that it was Iraqis who were dancing the Soeleimani murder while dancing. It looks like thirty. According to others on Twitter, however, it was just the opposite. There are also images on Twitter from the Iraqi city of Karbala where masses of believers shouted “death to the US” during Friday prayers. But the VRT did not show that.
In the meantime, the US and the Netherlands have called on their citizens to leave the country as quickly as possible. The silence in Europe about this attack is also striking. As far as we know, there is no reaction here yet. Only Charles Michel, President of the European Council, called for a de-escalation. Braver could be difficult.
1) Global Research, Dirk Adriaensens, December 25, 2019, “Iraq: The October Revolution of 2019 and the Iran-US Conflict .” Dirk Adriaensens lives in the Geraardsbergen region and knows the recent history of Iraq better than anyone in Belgium. In his story he shows how in 2003, after the American occupation, a state was created that could only be dysfunctional.
2) The Sleepwalkers, Christopher Clark, Penguin, 2012, 797 pages.