Scenes from Mosul

The recent advances by Peshmerga, Iraqi security forces and US led coalition forces (including Turkey) against Daesh positions in Northern Iraq (centered around Iraq’s second City, Mosul) seems a positive development on the surface, but dig a little deeper and worrying aspects appear. US motives in the area are to reassert their influence after the disastrous foreign interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, that ironically and tragically gave space for Daesh to grow in that vital part of the world. Saudi Arabia and Qatar seek to bolster radical Sunni groups seeking to overthrow Assad’s brutal regime (because of Iranian Shia support) with their own brutal version of Islam which most Muslims would contend. The scenes of retreating Daesh fighters and liberated villages in Northern Iraq are part of a media offensive to bolster US interests in this area, and show none of the analysis needed to illustrate how groups like Daesh came about.

The war on terror came out of the Afghan conflict to halt the Soviets there in 1979, all else runs from this. With the fall of the Berlin Wall adding to Russia’s increasing loss of superpower status allowed the US to think it could assert its interests and authority where it thought fit. What the US and most other Western commentators didn’t expect was the growing dissatisfaction across North Africa and Middle East with despotic dictators, themselves a reflection of post-colonial carve ups and Cold War era, which erupted recently in 2011. The growing dissatisfaction of the masses in Cairo, Tunis, across the whole Middle East could not be contained by the old power structures. The tragedy has been that in most cases the military have stepped in (backed by US support and Saudi subsidies in Egypt) or disintegrated, as Nato bombs destroyed much of Libya’s chance to start a peaceful road to democracy.

Radical Islam has grown at the same time, out of the despair that 40-50 years of despotic rule, backed by Western or Soviet interests, taking hold in many countries in Africa and the Middle and Far East. Such a toxic and smouldering cesspit will not be cured by bombs and arms pumped into the Middle East, it can only be helped by supporting democratic institutions in those countries, against the interests of both US inspired desires and Putin’s attempt to reassert his influence. The millions across the Middle East and further yearn for the justice that a poor Tunisian sought when he torched himself in 2011, at being arrested by state police for trying to sell vegetables at the side of the road. His death was not in vain as it as lit a fire which continues to burn today, in form of the women defying Saudi authorities by driving, to bloggers in Sissi’s Egypt prison camp still struggling for democracy, risking everything for it. Their courage and struggles are what the US, Putin and other so called ‘leaders’ never contend with, and always underestimate.

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