08 novembro, 2014
Who Are the Bad Guys?
WHO ARE THE BAD GUYS?
War is a vicious thing. Accordingly, I have come to expect vicious actions to happen in the course of a war, regardless of the sides engaged in the fight. That notwithstanding, one tends to have higher expectations from the “good guys” and lower ones from the “bad guys”.
In the latest Middle East war, the “Bad Guys” award was almost unanimously given to the Islamic State. Apparently reinforcing this status, one can read the statements given to the Washington Post’s Sarah Margon* by an unsuspected Kurdish peshmerga field commander: “They don’t respect human rights, they arrest anyone,” he said. “They kill, they behead, they burn houses.”
Gruesome? Indeed. The only itch here is that this is the description of the action of Shiite militias. Yes, you read well: Shiite militias. The very ones that are supposed to be an instrumental boots-on-the-ground supplement to the Coalition’s air campaign.
Pushing the moral questions aside, there are other serious issues at stake. Let us take a look at some common assumptions:
1- The Islamic State is jeopardising the territorial integrity, or even the survival, of Iraq and Syria. TRUE.
2- The Islamic State could spread to countries like Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Actually, it already causes turmoil in the former two. TRUE.
3- The Islamic State is a brutal and unforgiving organisation characterised by its extremism and beastly behaviour. TRUE.
4- Support for the Islamic State is fuelled by the discrimination, disenfranchisement and persecution bestowed upon the Iraqi Sunnis by the Shiite-dominated Baghdad regime. TRUE.
5- Therefore, it is a vital US/Coalition objective to have a new government in Baghdad (done) and to pursue policies of inclusiveness and empowerment towards the Sunnis, acknowledging this might be the only way to actually decouple the majority of the Sunni tribes and groups form the Islamic State. TRUE.
This (unsurprising) description of this savage behaviour by the Shiite militias begs the question? What is the Coalition doing? What does it expect to accomplish?
It is clear that, if continued, this pattern will only aggravate the sectarian nature of the fight, making the Shiite forces the Islamic State’s best recruiter. And a deeply entrenched sectarian conflict will be relished by the IS, because sectarian strife is embedded at the core of its ideology and beliefs.
It is time for the United States government and its Western allies to acknowledge they are dealing with two rattlesnakes and leveraging one to strike at the other will likely bring a strong backlash in the near future.
There is a serious risk of deepening and perpetuating the sectarian hatred which will result in an ever more divided Iraq, with the Islamic State wreaking havoc in the North and the West, plus in neighbouring states, and the Shiite assuming even more absolute control of the central state and increasing its dependence on Iran.
The Middle East wars currently rage to the beat of the Sunni-Shiite confrontation and the Saudi-Iranian rivalry. The United States opted for the easy target (the IS) but she will in time find out that fighting the Sunnis with the help of the Shiites in Iraq and fighting the Shiites with the help of the Sunnis in Syria is an impossible balancing act. Especially when the Bad Guys abound and there is a severe shortage of Good Guys.