IF you are one of those who applaud the United States for its humanitarian mission, food drops and airstrikes to protect the Yazidis, a minority group in northern Iraq, who are being targeted by the IS (Islamic State) militants, think again.
Political analyst Dr Chandra Muzaffar says the humanitarian reason given by the US is “hogwash and only a pretext”.
“As if they care for the Yazidis in the mountains and want to protect the Christians! The IS militants were the very ones massacring and beheading the Christians in Syria, yet no one lifted a finger to help them. They allowed them to be slaughtered. And the number of Christians in Syria is way more than those in Iraq,” says Dr Chandra, president of the International Movement for a Just World.
He believes the real reason for the US action is to protect Erbil, which is the hub of oil companies in Iraq and where the US has major oil interests. Erbil is a major city in northern Iraq which is controlled by the Kurds.
Dr Chandra points out that historically, the US and the Kurds have enjoyed a long good relationship and the US consider the Kurds their closest allies in the region after Israel. With IS militants advancing in the north, he says, it becomes a real threat to the Kurds once Erbil is threatened, and the US does not want that.
Another reason the US intervened, he says, has to do with the Biden Plan, which essentially is for a weak centre in Iraq where the Sunnis, Syiahs and Kurds are divided.
“It’s very unfortunate. They are playing on sectarian sentiments. They want to break up Iraq. This is all part of a larger plan for a fragmented West Asia so that there will not be any strong state that will threaten Israel.”
(IS, which is also referred to as Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is a radical Al-Qaeda-like militant group which aims to set up an Islamic state. It is led by the self-declared “Caliph” of the Muslim world, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and has been rather brutal in its assaults in Syria and Iraq.)
Dr Chandra says the Muslim world has been rather silent on the 160,000 dead in Syria since the Arab uprising, adding that IS is a reflection of how “big politics has messed up the entire situation” straddling the two states of Syria and Iraq.
He notes that the IS militants were brutal and barbaric from the start but they were still supported by important regional players such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and to some extent by Turkey indirectly which wanted to get rid of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
“One would argue it is in the interest of the regional powers, the US and other western powers to strengthen this militant group against Bashar al-Assad because he consistently stands against US hegemony and Israeli dominance.”
Syria’s Golan Heights has been occupied by Israel, so al-Assad has always been part of the resistance against Israel along with Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iran.
“Syria, Iran and Hezbollah are Israel’s mortal foes. So these countries are backing IS, which is a terrorist group, because of their desire to go against Israel. It boils down to that. As long as there is no strong leader, no strong army or no strong state (in West Asia), Israel is okay,” he says, adding that Israel has learnt its lessons from the past like in the 1956 Suez Canal crisis when it saw that strong Arab countries is detrimental to its interest.
Dr Chandra says what is happening in Syria and Iraq is “a real tragedy” that the West contributed to and which Saudi Arabia and Qatar got their hands dirty.
For him, politicians in Malaysia should speak up about IS atrocities.
He asks if their silence might have anything to do with IS being seen as championing the Sunni cause because it is going after the Syiahs, which would be unfortunate.
“What IS is doing is terrorism and extremism. Look at their thinking on women, minorities and Islamic law. They are destroying historical sites. They are forcing people to convert to Islam or they will die. What a terrible thing to say. I am very disturbed when people keep quiet when this is happening. Everyone, not just Muslims, should speak up against it.”
Selective in their outrage