From Al Qaeda to IS, who's really pulling the strings?

Those who cannot remember the past, cautioned George Santayana, are condemned to repeat it. So Barack Obama, who stood against Bush's wars and his apocalyptic visions of a world divided between Us and Them, is not just back bombing Iraq — fourth US president to do so — he seems to read from the self-same script.
Obama may not exactly envision himself on a 'divine mission' to save the world as his predecessor did but he has ended up doing just about the same. Only the pretext seems to differ.  

Then it was supposedly to rid the world of Saddam Hussain's mythical weapons of mass destruction or to confront him on his support to Al Qaeda in planning 9/11, as Bush claimed.  Now it is to save the Christians and Yazidis from the clutches of the Isis bigots. Truly touching the lengths America goes to every time to save the wretched world.

Taking Obama's lead, defence secretary Chuck Hagel, Gen Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and even cousins across the pond have gone all hyper screaming: "Apocalypse Now…End-of-Days…We must prepare for everything…an imminent threat to every interest we have…This is beyond anything we have seen…"

David Cameron, in the great tradition of Tony Blair who swore that Britain was just 45 minute away from an Iraq WMD strike, sees Isis unleashing its terror on the UK streets.

For years one saw such exaggerated nightmarish scenarios regularly spawned by the West vis-à-vis Al Qaeda and of course Iraq and Iran.

So the world needed, or rather the mighty military industrial complex that drives the US economy, a new enemy to keep its good, old wars going.  And the fearsome Isis chief Abubakr Al Baghdadi with his black, murderous mobs and their blood-curdling acts of casual brutality is perfect for the job profile.

After facing long years of Islam-bashing and being blamed for the crimes of Al-Qaeda and others, this is just what we needed.  A grand PR nightmare and disaster for an already much demonized global community.

The Islamic State and the so-called Caliphate it promises is like our worst nightmare come true. It materialized out of thin air, like clouds of locusts, taking over the vast swathes of Iraqi and Syrian territory.

As Yvonne Ridley reasons, Isis has achieved in a matter of weeks what the US and its allies failed to do in 10 years of occupation. This hasn't happened by accident; military victories on this scale take strategic planning and inside help. So who, exactly, is behind Isis?

More importantly, who stands to benefit from this carefully calibrated mayhem in the heart of the Middle East? The same folks who created Al Qaeda and used it ingenuously and effectively for years until Osama and his baby had exhausted their uses and were past their sell-by date.

 Look at the uncanny similarity in the methods used by Al Qaeda and IS — from the chilling murder of Daniel Pearl to the barbaric beheading of James Foley this month, both US journalists incidentally. There is a method in the madness.

I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist but the sceptre of Isis — and all such groups is evidently a grand conspiracy against Islam and its followers, just as Al Qaeda had been. And you see the fingerprints of CIA, Mossad and their willing collaborators all over this baby.

 As author Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya argues, the targeting of Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria and attempts to remap the Middle East are aimed at paving the way for the clash of civilizations that the likes of Samuel Huntington and Bernard Lewis have obsessed over for years.

So it is good that Arab and Muslim states seem to be waking up to the monster that is staring them in the face.  The recent Arab ministers' brainstorming in Jeddah and the Saudi-Iran confabulations seeking a common front against Isis are welcome.  So are the strong denunciations by top Islamic scholars and ordinary Muslims.

Doubtless, Isis is a clear and present danger. And it wouldn't, most probably, have come into existence if it had not been for the spectacular lies and crusades of Bush and Blair.  The Israeli crimes against humanity and relentless persecution of its helpless victims have also helped radicalise generations of Arabs and Muslims even those born in Western climes, as is apparently the case with the alleged British killer of James Foley.

But above all, as veteran Arab analyst Rami Khouri argues in his fine diagnosis, "the single most important, widespread, continuous and still active reason for the birth and spread of the Islamic State mind set is the curse of Arab security states that treat citizens like children that need to be taught obedience and passivity above all else."

The Beirut-based Arab analyst has a word of advice to the region. "There is only one antidote in the long run to eliminating the Islamic State and all it represents. That is to stop pursuing the abusive and criminal policies that have demeaned millions of decent men and women and shaped the region for the past half a century."

The author is a Gulf based award winning journalist. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman.


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