1 March 2006
really did have a motive for the very professional demolition job on
Samarra’s Golden Dome Mosque?
have pointed to the general advantages that flow to the imperialist
occupation from fostering sectarian divisions – the traditional
divide-and-rule strategy – but I think we can be a lot more specific.
I believe we can reliably point to the United States as the real culprit
and see a clear motive in the geo-strategic nightmare created by Washington’s
determination to wage war on Iran.
do this as a military intelligence officer would, and, for a moment,
put ourselves in the shoes of the key figures running the sprawling
US military, CIA and foreign affairs bureaucracy which does its best
to carry out the president’s wishes on the ground in Iraq. Let’s
look at their problems from their point of view.
badly bogged down in Iraq and they see no prospect of getting out in
the next few years.
2003, in the heady days of the march up from the Gulf, the story they
were getting from Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Cheney and poor mad George himself,
was that they’d be greeted with flowers and candy by the grateful
Iraqi people, after which they’d set up a model democracy and then
march on to liberate Tehran and Damascus. At the time many of them protested
that they simply didn’t have enough troops for an occupation and
that the venture risked putting Iran in charge in Baghdad, but they
were laughed at and told to get on with the job.
so the neoconservative warhawks’ model failed – very badly.
The Sunnis and the Baathists turned against the "liberators"
and began an intractable resistance. The president’s loyal underlings
had to adapt to the awkward fact that the only semblance of an puppet
Iraqi army they could put together was going to have to come from among
the sectarian Shiite extremists loyal to the Supreme Council for the
Islamic Revolution in Iraq. The only puppet government they could hope
for was an unstable combination of Shiite politicians close to the Tehran
government and a bunch of Kurdish leaders who really only wanted to
secede from Iraq, taking with them as much of the northern oilfields
as they could.
Just peachy. They were now in a defacto alliance with one end of the
"Axis of Evil" itself. Still, they did their best and made
it work in a "muddle through" kind of way. They humoured the
Kurds and recruited whatever "security forces" they could
from among sectarian elements of the Shia population. Obviously, under
the circumstances, the anti-Iranian rhetoric had to be toned down. The
mainstream media commentators were told not to draw attention to the
Iranian connection and, in fact, to talk-up Saddam Hussein’s various
alleged tyrannies against the Shia. The emphasis was all on Sunni Wahabist
terrorism and the supposedly defining role played by the semi-mythical
Abu Musab al-Zaqawi.
then, a weird, irrational, thing happened. As if things weren’t
bad enough, Crazy-Mad George and his neocon advisors decided it was
imperative to wage war on Iran.
general staff and the CIA boys and the State Department spin doctors
must have felt like slitting their wrists. Obviously the president was
a sandwich short of the full picnic. The regular US Army, the Marines
and a great slab of the Reserves and National Guard were tied down trying
to hold the line against the Sunni resistance. The Brits and Italians
and Aussies were keeping a very low profile down in the South –
doing everything they could to minimise their troop levels and stay
out of trouble. There was just no way the US generals could muster even
a tiny fraction of the troops necessary to actually invade Iran.
are orders and like good bureaucrats they buckled down to the task.
The only available option was to neutralise Iran not by invasion and
occupation but by bombing it back to the Stone Age. It wasn’t a
good option, in fact it was extremely dangerous, but it was the only
one at all militarily feasible.
was, the Tehran government was not only dangerously well armed, in a
conventional sense, it had the advantage of having a loyal Shia following
in the South and parts of Baghdad – militia forces that could be
unleashed against the weak Coalition forces holding the South. With
a little help from Iran the Shiite militias could overrun these Coalition
units fairly easily. Even worse, the regular Iranian forces might advance
to cut the vital , vulnerable, supply lines running from the head of
the Gulf to Baghdad. True, they’d take heavy losses, but they could
afford to. Undoubtedly, tens of thousands ofUS troops would have to
be rushed South to deal with these threats.
would the Sunni and Baathist resistance do while the US was fighting
its previous allies? Well, if they remained actively hostile, they’d
have a field day. They’d overrun al-Anbar province, grab Fallujah
and Ramadi and Mosul and parts of Baghdad. And of course the mainly
Shiite "Iraqi National Guard" units, never reliable, would
very nasty. But orders are orders, so the bureaucrats had to have a
plan. The most fundamental problem was political: if the occupation
forces were suddenly going to wage war on their Shiite allies they needed
a strategy for neutralising, or hopefully even winning over, the Sunni
and Baathist resistance.
a long shot, but if they could just get these folk to sit on their hands
while they dealt with Iran and the Iranian surrogates within Iraq, well,
the Coalition wouldn’t have to fight two enemies simultaneously.
problem having been grasped, the only issue was how to stampede the
Sunnis back into the arms of the occupation.
I surmise, is where the Askariya Mosque operation came in.
In a back
room in the Green Zone, where the hard men of the occupation gather
to make hard decisions, shrewd calculations would have been made. Blowing
up a much-revered Shia shrine – until now protected within a Sunni
area – and passing it off as Sunni terrorism, was guaranteed (as
much as anything could be) to incite a spontaneous wave of revenge against
Sunnis by the most backward and fanatical elements in the Shiite community
and to pit those people against more cautious and responsible Shia leaders.
If all went to plan, millions of Sunnis would suddenly see the greatest
threat coming not from the occupation, but from Iraqi Shiites and the
Tehran government and would remain neutral in the coming war between
the US and Iran.
light the bombing can be seen as the latest and most extreme ploy in
a strategy that’s been evolving for some months. The first signs
came with US attempts to negotiate with the resistance and win them
over to politics rather than armed resistance.
another artful divide-and-rule strategy, this time crafted to appeal
to Sunni fears and the hostility of secular Arab nationalists towards
of the Middle East is written in the blood of the various ethnic and
religious groups that allowed themselves to be conned by appeals to
old hatreds and short-term interests. If the resistance falls for it,
they’ll be fools, just as the Iranian leaders were fools not to
fight beside Iraq against the 2003 invasion. If the US is able to prevail
by brutally neutralising Iran with air power, it will then turn back
to deal with the Sunni and Baathist resistance and it will do so just