What is happening in Iraq could be its break-up into three states.
And that would change the politics of the Middle East forever.
It should concern us Filipinos. Not only because we have more than a million Filipino compatriots in the Middle East, which should be our topmost concern. But also because these developments could change the world economy, and influence the supply of oil from that part of the world.
There’s a 50-50 chance that by the time this issue of The Manila Times hits the streets tomorrow, Iraq’s capital Baghdad would have fallen to the newly prominent fundamentalist, some say terrorist, force calling itself the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The 50 percent chance that the invading jihadist force of the ISIS or ISIL will be repulsed can happen if the Shiite dominated (and Iran-friendly) government of Iraq accepts the offer of Iran to openly come to its aid. CNN has reported of being told by a senior security official in Baghdad that in recent days Iran has sent about 500 Revolutionary Guard troops to fight alongside Iraqi government forces in Diyala province.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry has, however, vehemently denied that report. It is known that while Iran wishes its Shiite co-religionists to stay in power in Iraq, it also wants to be subtle about it. The Sunni component of the Iraqi population would become more violently anti-Iran if the ayatollahs lorded it over their country.
The opposite possibility can happen because the ISIS or ISIS armies are getting closer to Baghdad. And ISIS/ISIL warriors have caused a bomb blast in the border of Baghdad, killing 30 persons.
The ISIS or ISIL has taken control of Iraq’s Sunni Muslim core, including the cities of Fallujah, Mosul, Ramadi, Samarra and Tikrit and most of Anbar and Nineveh provinces. At this writing the jihadist rebels fighting the primarily Shiite military of Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki is only 50 kilometers away from Baghdad.
The primarily Shiite Iraqi government forces, trained and equipped by the United States, have only lately begun to hit the rebels with drones. But it does not look like they will be able to push back the ISIS/ISIL forces. These Islamist forces are adequately armed and have good mobility. This is because they have the materiel the United States left behind when it formally withdrew from Iraq for use by the government military. The Sunni component of Iraq’s forces and police have sided with the ISIS/ISIL, which is why it has been successful in winning Iraq’s Sunni heartland.
The al-Maliki government has asked the US for new military support. Should the US try to prop up the Shiite dominated national government of Iraq and help it recover the Sunni areas that have fallen to the ISIS/ISIL?
Some think President Obama should not. The US should just let Iraq get broken up into three parts, each more or less properly representing the ethnic and religious divisions of the country.
Let the ISIS/ISIL dominate the Sunni areas. Let the Shiites, supported by Iran, run their own areas.
And let the Kurds, who have been oppressed by both Shiite and Sunni lords of the national government, govern their own territory.
The Kurds have taken control of Kirkuk, their area’s center, and as a result kept it from ISIS/ISIL hands.
Could this ever happen to the Philippines? Yes, that grim prospect could befall our country — if greed, incompetence, stupidity and hypocrisy continue to be the characteristics of Philippine national governance.