Setting the Record Straight on Iraq and the Islamic State

Map picture

 The Levant [as in Islamic State of the Levant] is the eastern Mediterranean area and consists of the island of Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and part of southern Turkey.

Opinion:  Patricia L Johnson

Football season hasn’t technically begun, yet there is no shortage of Monday-morning-quarterbacks when it comes to the situation in Iraq and what to do about the Islamic State.  Anyone, that’s anyone has thrown in their two cents on who is to blame for the situation in Iraq, whether or not to put boots on the ground, and whether or not to spread the chaos to Syria.

This disaster began on March 19, 2003 when the United States, with the aid of our allies attacked the Republic of Iraq without knowing all the facts and quite simply that’s the same situation we are in right now with the Islamic State.  We do not know all the facts, yet we are giving thought to spreading the war to yet another Islamic country.

Many individuals blame the Republicans, while others blame Democrats for the situation we’re in, but I’m going to place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the United States media for not doing their job.  Their job, as I see it, is to report the news and keep the American public informed of any and all news that affects us.  Instead, the majority report their biased opinion of what someone else has already reported and not too many are getting the facts out.

The facts are as follows:  When we waged our ‘shock and awe’ campaign against the people of the Republic of Iraq in 2003, without justification, we sealed the deal on our future.  At the time we waged war, there were an estimated 24 million people living in Iraq. 97 percent were Muslims, while an estimated 3 percent were Christians or practiced other faiths.  Within the 97 percent Muslim religion, 60-65 percent were Shi’a Muslim, while 32-37 percent were Sunni Muslim.   The ethnic groups were 75-80 percent Arab, 15-20 percent Kurdish and 5 percent Turkoman, Assyrian or other.

At the time of our attack the Shi’a’s were the majority, yet the Sunni’s, under the direction of Chief of State, President Saddam Hussein, were in control of the 18 governorates in Iraq.  After our attacks a new government was put in place with Shi’a’s having majority control of the 18 governorates, but many officials were killed during their first few months in office.

Saddam Hussein was a member of the Ba’ath Party and southern Shi’a’s as well as Kurds opposed the Ba’ath Party’s political philosophy of combining the entire Arab World into one single state with a motto of “Unity, Liberty and Socialism”.  The Ba’ath Party was never confined to Iraq, its power was limited to Iraq and Syria, but it had branches in other Arab countries.

There doesn’t appear to be a standard definition for Arab World but it is more or less accepted that any member of the Arab League is part of the Arab World.  Currently, the Arab League consists of 22 members, with names listed below.  You may have read that there are only 21 members, due to the suspension of Syria, but the Arab League is still considering Syria a member so the total is 22.  These 22 countries had a combined projected population of approximately 371 million as of July 2013.

  • Algeria
  • Bahrain
  • Comoros
  • Djibouti
  • Egypt
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Mauritania
  • Morocco
  • Oman
  • Palestine
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Tunisia
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Yemen

Some politicians and members of the media are suggesting the Islamic State basically came into being fairly recently, which is simply not true.  The Islamic State is non-other than Tanzim Qa’idat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn its Arab name, which was originally added to the listing of terrorist groups on March 2, 2005 as Al-Qa’ida in Iraq. 

While you are probably most familiar with the name Al-Qa’ida, more recently the organization has been called:

ISIS = Islamic State of Iraq and Syria

ISIL = Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

and finally IS = Islamic State.

The Islamic State organization has also been known under the following names: Al-Qa’ida in Iraq; Al-Qa’ida in Iraq – Zarqawi; Al-Qa’ida of Jihad in the Land of the Two Rivers; Al-Qa’ida of Jihad Organization in the Land of the Two Rivers; Al-Tawhid; Al-Tawhid and al-Jihad; Brigades of Tawhid; Islamic State of Iraq; Dawla al-Islamiya; Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa as-Sham; Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham; Jama’at al-Tawhid wa’al-Jihad; Kateab al-Tawhid; Mujahidin Shura Council; Qaida of the Jihad in the Land of the Two Rivers; Tanzeem Qa’idat al Jihad Bilad al Raafidaini; Tanzim Qa’idat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn; The al-Zarqawi network;The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant; The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham; The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria; The Islamic Caliphate; The Islamic Caliphate State; The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria; The Monotheism and Jihad Group; The Organization Base of Jihad Country of the Two Rivers; The Organization Base of Jihad Mesopotamia; The Organization of Jihad’s Base in the Country of the Two Rivers; Unity and Holy Struggle; Unity and Holy War; Unity and Jihad Group.

It was June 29, 2014 (the first day of Ramadan) when an Islamic caliphate was proclaimed for the area the Islamic State now controls and their name was changed to Dawla al-Islamiya, or the Islamic State.   The methods incorporated by this group are no different than they were back in 2005 when they were first declared a terrorist organization.  Their expansion, the announcement of an Islamic caliphate and the name change are the only differences.

Many politicians and pundits have determined the reason the Islamic State has expanded is due to the fact a residual force was not left in Iraq, and of course they blame President Obama, which is also incorrect.

On December 31, 2008 the United Nations Security Council Mandate would have expired which was the legal basis for the United States having forces in Iraq.  On December 14, 2008 President George W. Bush signed both the Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA), and Security Agreement (SOFA).  President Bush was basically caught between a rock and a hard place and had to sign whatever the Iraqi parliament provided to him; otherwise our troops would have to be out of Iraq by December 31, 2008, which was completely impossible.

The SOFA, as it was written, required US forces to withdraw from Iraqi cities by June 30, 2009 and for all U.S. forces to be out by December 31, 2011.  It called for warrants to be issued for searches that were not related to combat; required criminal charges to be assessed for any prisoner held more than 24 hours; and stated U.S. contractors working for U.S. forces would be subject to Iraqi criminal law.

It was thought that with time, the United States would be able to amend the treaty and leave a certain number of troops in country, but the Republic of Iraq had total control of the situation and no changes could be negotiated without approval.  Needless to say the Iraqi’s had absolutely no desire to keep us in country any longer, so would not agree to anything other than minor changes.  A decision they quite possibly may be regretting.

It wouldn’t have made any difference if we left a 100 troops in Iraq, or 100,000 because sooner or later the day was going to come when U.S. troops would leave and the Iraqi’s would have to fend for themselves and they simply are not, and will not be able to do that, due to the extreme divisions within the country.

No matter how you personally feel about the war in Iraq, the fact is we made a gross error in attacking Iraq without just cause [there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq] and have to accept the consequences of our actions.  Trying to stop the Islamic State by taking military action against Syria would be the second greatest error this country could ever make due to the fact the militants aren’t just in Iraq and Syria, they are in numerous Arab countries.

A solution in Iraq that may have the potential of limiting the violence might be to split the country into three separate states, with the Kurds in control of one area, the Shi’a in another, and the Sunni’s in yet another with each group retaining a share of the oil.   EIA’s Country Analysis Brief of April 2, 2013 indicates five of the twelve major oil fields in Iraq,  are super-giant fields (reserves over five billion barrels) indicating there is more than enough oil to go around. 

Bayphase Oil and Gas Consulting issued their 8th Edition of the Iraq Strategic Report in January of 2014 with the following statement:

“With potential to rival the reserves and production of Saudi Arabia, Iraq presents the greatest opportunity available today to the world’s oil and gas industry. Whether you are an oil company, service company or investor Iraq has the potential to deliver significant opportunity and influence your strategic decision making no matter where you operate.”

The Republic of Iraq will eventually turn into the wealthiest country in the world and will control a significant portion of the world’s oil supply.  Let us hope and pray the Iraqi’s are able to find peace with each other and with the rest of the world before that happens.

© 2014 Patricia L Johnson

Patricia Johnson

Patricia Johnson

Patricia L Johnson is a former special assignment writer/photographer and co-owner of the Articles and Answers News and Information sites.
Patricia Johnson
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