A member of a rebel group called the Martyr Al-Abbas throws a handmade weapon in Aleppo, Syria, June 11, 2013. (Reuters/Muzaffar Salman)
What happens when you invade one stable nation, destroy its government and virtually its entire political and social infrastructure, and then a decade later stoke the fire of revolution in a stable nation next door without regard for the consequences? Well, take a look: that’s what the United States has done in Iraq and Syria.
The carnage in Iraq is escalating, even as the Islamist-led rebellion in Syria seems unending.
Let’s start this commentary by reviewing an editorial in today’s New York Times on Iraq, which warns that Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant—having aggregated the most virulent part of the Syria revolt—is once again gaining momentum. Its stunning jailbreaks that freed up to 800 prisoners from the infamous Abu Ghraib prison and another in Taji have thrown fuel on the fire of renewed civil war in that country. As the Times notes, at least 700 Iraqis have been killed in July, adding to the thousands who’ve died there since April, when violence exploded again.
But the Times, incredibly, puts the blame on the Obama administration for not having worked harder to keep American troops in Iraq after the end of that criminal war, saying:
Iraq might have been better able to repel Al Qaeda if Mr. Maliki and the Americans had worked harder on a deal to keep a token number of troops in the country to continue helping with training and intelligence-gathering.
And the Times barely mentions Syria, whose civil war has managed to unite Al Qaeda and other extreme Islamist movements in both countries in Sunni-led jihad against the Alawite-led government in Damascus, the Shiite-led government in Baghdad, and Iran, which supports both. Says the Times:
Regional volatility, including the Syrian war and Iran, are compounding Iraq’s instability.
That underestimates one problem and absurdly overstates another. The “volatility” in Syria—probably the first time that a civil war that has left tens of thousands dead has been described as “volatility”—is a major cause of the Sunni-led revolt in Iraq, and the longer it continues the more likely it is that Islamists in both countries will work together to recruit fighters, purchase arms and exchange bomb-making capabilities. On the other hand, what does the Times mean by volatility in Iran, which is a stable, secure nation without any violence within its borders?
It ought to be noted, parenthetically, that when we talk about “Al Qaeda” in Iraq or Syria, it’s hardly the same organization that was responsible for 9/11. In both countries, Al Qaeda is primarily a threat to Iraqis and Syrians, not to the United States. They’re far too busy killing supporters of President Assad in Damascus and Prime Minister Maliki in Baghdad to worry about attacking the United States. Indeed, perversely, if anything Al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria is an ally of Washington.