Breitbart, by THOMAS ROSE:
How could a force of less than 15,000 fighters overrun a lavishly equipped modern army 20 times its size with no outside help? In the case of ISIS, the answer is that it could not, and did not, overrun Sunni Iraq without help. ISIS had help. Plenty of it.
For those interested in keeping score, here is a partial list, in alphabetical order, of those forces, countries, and people most active in helping the ferociously brutal al-Qaeda heirs seize contiguous and virtual sovereign control over territory larger than Jordan with more than six million people, spanning the borders of four countries, complete with extensive modern infrastructure, as well as of some of the most oil-rich real estate in the Middle East.
The signs of Iraq’s accelerating decline have been evident since last December when ISIS fighters took the city of Fallujah. But ISIS’s recent advance would not have been possible had it not been able, last January, to seize and hold the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa that has given ISIS the staging ground from which it has been able to plan bigger advances and seize Syrian oilfields.
1. Bashar Assad, President of Syria: guilty of spending the last three years cynically insuring that ISIS could gain a battlefield advantage over other rebel groups also fighting to overthrow his own brutal regime. First, he sprung hundreds of ISIS terrorists from his jails to join the ranks of the rebels while selectively choosing to spare ISIS forces from bearing the brunt of government offensives. Assad correctly gambled that once the world saw just how violent, fanatical, and dangerous it was, it would balk from doing much of anything to help any of the rebel groups, for fear of aiding ISIS.
It was in Bashar Assad’s Syria that ISIS earned its fighting chops and became the experienced, well-disciplined, and highly effective fighting force it is today. It was in Syria that ISIS extorted the millions of dollars it needed to finance its war by ransoming dozens of the Europeans it took hostage, which has netted a seasoned and experienced fighting force, all while Bashar Assad looked the other way.
Arming moderate Syrian rebels would weaken Assad, the most sinister single party to this conflict. It is Assad who simultaneously incites ISIS and protects ISIS; all so he can present himself to the world as a more reasonable alternative. Assad’s approach has been sinister, cynical, and quite effective.
2. British Colonial Office, 1916-1920: Its century old decision taken during and after the final collapse of the Ottoman Empire to draw an entirely new map of the Middle East did much to exacerbate today’s violent sectarian conflict in Iraq. Winston Churchill, then-colonial secretary, thought the best way to prevent Muslims, whose support Britain needed to maintain control of India and the Middle East, from rising against British rule as they had just successfully risen against Turkish rule was for Colonial Office bureaucrats to create entirely new and artificial states to be led by entirely new and artificial “monarchies.” The borders of these new states were drawn with little account given to the very tribal and sectarian battle lines being fought over today.
3. Erdogan, Recep Tayan, president of Turkey: guilty from the earliest stages of the Syrian civil war of abetting ISIS fighters by granting them full use of its side of the Syrian-Turkish border from which to stage their attacks against the Syrian regime. Even now, despite European Union pressure, Turkey continues to provide ISIS forces as well as other less radical anti-Assad rebel groups with sanctuary and support inside Turkey. Turkey regards the Assad regime as an extension of the radical Shi’a regime in Iran, its primary foe.
4. European Union: guilty of having done virtually nothing to prevent the self-reinforcing supply of European Muslims from using their EU passports to join the jihad in Syria and Iraq. Thousands of ISIS trained fighters carry European passports.Hundreds are thought to have returned to their respective EU home countries after having been radicalized. Last month’s terrorist attack on the Jewish Museum of Brusselswas carried out by an ISIS trained jihadist carrying an EU passport. Spanish authorities broke up a suspected ISIS cell in Madrid last week.
5. Maliki, Nouri al, Iraqi Prime Minister: guilty for becoming increasingly despotic and sectarian following the withdrawal of the last U.S. forces from his country in 2011. He fatally undermined the integrity and effectiveness of the Iraqi army by purging from its ranks all Sunni and Kurdish officers, replacing them with members of his own Shi’a sect. The day after the final U.S. soldier left Iraq, Maliki had Iraq’s Sunni vice presidentarrested on trumped-up charges of treason, for which he has been sentenced to death in absentia. Until the ISIS rising, Maliki’s security forces would sweep through Sunni towns and villages, arresting thousands of ordinary Sunni men with little or no pretext. He has used the army to punish opponents and reward his supporters, alienating nearly all non-Shi’a Iraqis.
At the bidding of his Iranian mentors, Maliki starved all funding and support to the Sunni clans that proved so vital to defeating Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) forces during the 2007 Sunni Awakening. He responded to last December’s fall of Fallujah to ISIS forces by launching massive and indiscriminate bombing raids on the Sunni city that killed far more people and caused far more damage than the ISIS takeover. This pushed Iraqi Sunnis into the waiting arms of ISIS and Iraq’s Kurds to the verge of declaring their own independent state. Iraq’s 6.5 million Kurds–whose fierce and loyal Peshmerga fighters breezily swatted away the ISIS fighters that briefly seized abandoned Iraqi army posts–are the only Iraqis who stand to benefit from the country’s crisis. Kurds have long demanded the right to export their own oil and to their full share of federal budget proceeds. Now, they may have the leverage to finally win those demands.
6. Obama, Barack: By insisting upon the removal of all U.S. forces from Iraq, the American president deprived that country’s army of the confidence and strategic support it used to effectively crush both Sunni and Shi’a armed risings. President Obama’s insistence on the total withdrawal of all forces also robbed Iraq of the very impetus its fragile national government needed to keep the country together. His oft-stated objective of “lowering” America’s “regional profile” has done wonders to raise the profile and confidence of America’s enemies.
The current leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is a former U.S. detainee at Camp Bucca, Iraq. According to an unclassified 2005 U.S. intelligence report, Baghdadi was arrested by U.S. forces in 2005 in connection to the intimidation, torture, and murder of hundreds of local civilians in Qaim. Upon the order of the American Commander-in-Chief, and against the strong objections of the Iraqi government, al-Baghdadi was released in 2009.
The predictable outcome of President Obama’s refusal to secure the detention of al-Baghdadi not only accelerated the creation of a barbaric new Sunni-Islamist terror state encompassing Sunni areas of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan, but it also wiped away the last remaining obstacle preventing an ever greater threat–a nuclear-armed Iran.
7. Qatar: The tiny rich gulf state, together with Kuwait, continues to serve as ISIS’private banking center, where individuals and groups supporting the terrorist group can freely raise money and plot strategy.
8. Saudi Arabia: The oil-rich kingdom, birthplace of Islam, and self proclaimed protector of Sunni interests helped light the fuse of Syria’s civil war and has stoked the fire ever since by arming and training most of the Sunni rebel groups fighting to overthrow the Assad regime as a way to weaken its mortal enemy Iran, which has spent billions of dollars and sent tens of thousands of its own troops to defend its Syrian ally.
If anything favors keeping Iraq intact, it is that all of the players and parties mentioned would, if forced to confront it head-on, view ISIS as a direct and existential threat. ISIS’ ruthlessness and brutality are shocking, even to the hard-to-shock-senses of the Middle East. Its wholesale slaughtering of Shiites and the speed with which the brutality of Christian executions has become routine is enough to disturb even the most disturbed of Mideast minds.