Recent Twitter posts by Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Bildt and by Francois Heisbourg, one of the most famous French strategists, presently living in Switzerland, gave me the idea for today’s article. They took to Twitter to post about the ISIS (International Institute for Strategic Studies) Conference, organized in Oslo the past weekend, on the issue @The International System and the Ukraine Crisis” ( September 19-20, editor’s note ). On Saturday, Carl Bildt wrote the following: “ Whether a final deal on Iran nuclear issue is possible now is uncertain, but no one wants to break off or head to a new conflict.” Approximately at the same time, F. Heisbourg hinted to France’s military involvement in Iraq for the present aerial campaign initiated by the USA against the Islamic “caliphate” that occupied certain regions of Iraq and Syria. One of his posts mentioned that the code name of the French aerial operation in Iraq, in partnership with the US Air Force, is Chammal, the Arab name of the Northwestern wind that blows in the Gulf, Iraq included.
At the end of the NATO summit in Wales, two statements are worth being mentioned because they are related to our topic. The first of them, named “on transatlantic bond”, outlines the unity of the Occident confronted with the challenges of the 21st century and sees NATO as an embodiment of the unbreakable transatlantic connection, and as the instrument employed by this civilisation to defeat its interests and to create an “anchor for thepresent world order”. The second document, “The Summit Declaration”, presents the threats the Occident is looking forward to at the time being. First of all, it points out the re-emergence of Russia’s aggressiveness at the Eastern border of the EU, by illegal annexation of Crimea and by creating instability in Ukraine, while aiming to recreate a traditional Imperial circle of interests.
On the second place, it mentions the threat represented by the Islamic state recently created in the Mideast by a terrorist organization led by a self-proclaimed caliph, who revealed that they target to install a new social order based on ‘sharia law’ and to forcefully change the present territorial order of the region.
Therefore, similar actions take place in Eastern Europe, where Russia is taking revisionist action, and in the Mideast, where violent actions performed throughout the last few months by the mentioned caliphate have already divided Iraq and took control over huge regions of Syria, threatening to re-establish local regional order. In the case of Eastern Europe, NATO immediately took action in order to discourage Russia’s assertiveness on medium and long term and to force it to subdue to international laws. In the case of North Africa and the Mideast, actions destined to destroy the terrorists threatening present orders have already started.
At the time being, the top priority is constructing a coalition of the willing in order to stop the rise of the Islamic caliphate. During the last few days, the American air force, supported by French aviation, has attacked strategic and tactic targets of the caliphate forces, located mostly nearby the Iraqi city Mosul. The last action of the French planes took place on September 20, when the American air force had already completed 150 raids of aggressive recon, as they are named in the planners’ jargon.
The comments published in the French press were mixed. One of them stated that “France did this to give an example. It is the duty of the Iraqi and Kurds to fight against Jihad forces, we do nothing but support them”, while another commenter pointed out that “many oil wells in Northern Iraq are already overtaken by Jihadists. They sell oil at USD 10 per barrel. Trucks carrying this oil are openly passing though Turkey, one of their top buyers, besides certain Western countries, through intermediaries, obviously.” The comment is concluded by a question whether it would be more reasonable to bomb these oil wells that supply resources which assure the required funding for theJihadists’ war.
According to breaking news, this war is going on atrociously. For the last few days, ISIL Jihadists have attacked the Syrian city Kobane, which determined dozens of thousands of the city dwellers to seek refuge in Turkey, in order to escape the violence of the aggressors. During the past weekend, over 70,000 Kurds from the Kobane area have migrated to Turkey and some dozens of thousands more are awaited during the next days. Counting on the fact that the attack by the coalition of the willing the US attempts to achieve now will come soon (certain intelligence websites are hinting that it is to start in October) ISIL forces are already applying a long-term resistance strategy. Among the actions required b such strategy, we must mention building tunnel networks on the subdued territories of Iraq and Syria, similarly to the Hamas system in Gaza or Hezbollah in Libya, as well as terminating rival organizations. One of these sites mentions that many infrastructure works are “are currently being developed in the Iraqi region Mosul and the Syrian region Raqqa. Moreover, approximately 30,000 soldiers of Daech – the Arab name of the caliphate – are encouraged to mix among civilians located at both sides of the border”.
How can one explain the extremely fast ascension of ISIL and its unbelievable resistance / aggressiveness to other groups, not to mention their massive territorial expansion in such a short time?
According to analyses published by the international press, “ISIS is run by a council of former Iraqi generals, according to Hisham Alhashimi, an adviser to the Iraqi government and an expert on ISIS. Many are members of Saddam Hussein’s secular Baath Party who converted to radical Islam in American prisons. Baghdadi (the leader of the caliphate, the self proclaimed caliph, editor’s note) has divided his conquered Iraqi lands into seven ‘vilayets’ – the name given to provinces in the caliphate. Each vilayet has a governor, who answers directly to Baghdadi, but who is free to launch attacks as he sees fit.” The caliphate’s manner of action obviously targets to redesign the political map of the region, therefore the cancellations of the famous Sykes-Picot Agreement of WWI. As for foreign sponsors, existing information converges towards the hypothesis that this role is performed by the tiny state of Qatar. As an article in the Monday edition of “the Telegraph” showed:“From Hamas in the Gaza Strip to radical armed movements in Syria, Qatar’s status as a prime sponsor of violent Islamists, including groups linked to al-Qaeda, is clear to diplomats and experts. Qatar’s promotion of extremism has so infuriated its neighbours that Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates all chose to withdraw their ambassadors from the country in March.”
It is therefore obvious that the regional security of the Mideast is challenged by an extraordinarily complex hotspot that requires immediate action, which is due to bring again the region in the centre of international attention in the near future.