Monday, August 11, 2014


"My advice to Obama would be to lay low. This sectarian-nationalist process has been boiling up for a more than a century. It should be seen as part of the breakdown of the Ottoman order and emergence of nationalism. I compare what is going on in the Levant today to Central Europe during WWII. In Central Europe, the great powers drew national borders after WWI, carving up the lands of the defeated empires without rearranging the peoples to fit them. Thus Poland was only 64% Polish before WWII. Czechoslovakia was made up of close to 25% minorities. WWII was the “great sorting out.” (Read: ) Over the war years, the peoples of central Europe were rearranged according to the WWI borders. By the end of WWII, Poland and Czechoslovakia had been reduced to their core Polish and Czechoslovak peoples. They got rid of their unwanted (Jews) or guilty (think the 12 million Germans of central Europe) minorities, along with many others. It was a nasty and brutal nation-building process. Of course, in the Middle East, the emergence of national identities is bedeviled by competing religious identities, which seem to be stronger than both “Arabism” or “Iraqism.” I doubt we will see high degrees of Shiite-Sunni cooperation in the coming months. If the U.S. sticks its long oar into this mess, the U.S. will end up with a broken oar. It seems possible that within the next two years, ISIS will largely be destroyed by the concerted action of both Iraqi and Syrian forces with help from Iran and possibly the U.S. Sunni Arabs will not be pacified so long as they receive scant justice and minimal political representation in both Syria and Iraq, but ISIS cannot represent their needs. It is an expression of sectarianism run amok".
Joshua Landis, "The Future of ISIS and the Sectarian Response: ISIS has Picked a Fight it Cannot Win". Syria Comment. 15 June 2014, in
"After years of bringing the US military out of Iraq, Barack Obama took just a couple of days this week and a few hastily called meetings with his national security team to send them back in. In doing so, Mr Obama became the fourth consecutive US president to bomb the Middle East country, with no sign that this latest intervention will be any more decisive than that of his predecessors in ending Iraq’s longstanding internal conflicts. Mr Obama’s hand was forced by the rapid advance of the militant army of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) and their threat of “genocide” against 40,000 Yazidis, a Kurdish-speaking minority who had fled to a mountain top in search of sanctuary. Mr Obama dressed up the US intervention in the lofty language of US exceptionalism, about how only Washington combined the military means and the political values to prevent Isis from slaughtering ethnic minorities".
Richard McGregor, "Obama’s hand in Iraq forced by rapid advance of Isis". The Financial Times. 8 August 2014, in
There are many different things that can be said about the air strikes against the Al Qaeda-like, Sunni-extremists of ISIS that American forces have commenced this week-end just past. By definition the American government has decided to ignore the rather cavalier and indeed heartless advice offered by Syria Comment's Joshua Landis. About which the best one may say is the less said the better. Does Landis know how much horrible human suffering was involved in the national realignment that Central and Eastern Europe underwent circa 1939-1946? With that being said, it seems evident that the Americans have intelligently decided to overtly assist with air strikes and indeed back with military assistance the Kurdish military 1. With the regime in Baghdad close to be an out and out Persian puppet regime, it is imperative that the Kurdish Regional Government in Erbil be fully and strongly supported by the Americans and the other Western powers. Not only as a counter to the Sunni fanatics of ISIS but also as a Western sheet anchor, in the region vis-à-vis towards both Baghdad and Persia. To stand back and to not fully and overtly support the Kurdish Regional government would be a major erratum. Both geopolitically and militarily. One may only hope that the Americans and their allies moves forward as expeditiously as possible along these new policy lines. As the ex-CIA & NSC Arab military analyst, Kenneth Pollack, notes regardless of the initial success of American air strikes, it is still quite possible that ISIS will endeavor to attack other areas currently controlled by the Kurds:
"Because the Peshmerga are stretched somewhat thin across their 650-mile front, ISIS may be able to find a weak spot and exploit it. Perhaps even to break through and threaten another major Kurdish city. Will the U.S. employ air power to defeat such a new assault? Personally, I hope so" 2.
1. Erika Solomon & Richard McGregor, "US gives military aid to Iraqi Kurds fighting Isis". The Financial Times. 11 August 2014, in
2. Kenneth Pollack, "Iraq: Understanding the ISIS Offensive Against the Kurds". The Brookings Institute. 11 August 2014, in


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