New York City, New York (TFC) – As American planners, such as the RAND Corporation, make decisions about what the solution to ISIS is, people are beginning to ask “Why did ISIS form?”. The proposed solutions are old, useless, and do not tackle the real problem. The reality is that undercover operatives, ground troops, or air campaigns aren’t permanent solutions on the ground. Will it kill off ISIS? Yes, it will. But will it prevent another ISIS from forming in the future? No. In fact, this will only increase the resolve of Middle Eastern terrorists to restore another ISIS now knowing the amount of instability in the area.
So why did ISIS form in Iraq?
Part 1: Why ISIS Formed in Iraq
ISIS is not an isolated group. Many radicalized groups all over the world, violent and non-violent, get thousands to millions of people to join it. Many radical non-violent groups like the Golden Dawn and the American Nazi Party out-populate ISIS in strength and potential influence. However, ISIS is the most powerful violent radicalized group in the Middle East and is one of the most influential military powers in the Middle East currently. There are two major factors and a few very minor factors that are responsible for the rise of ISIS. The two major ones however, are because of,
1. Radicalization of the Iraqi Population
2. Constant abuse from Western powers
1. Radicalization of the Iraqi Population
Iraq has been radicalized since the end of Ottoman rule. Going through the entire history in Iraq and identifying a long term stable period, pre-World War I Ottoman Empire would be the most modern time to see this. Before World War I, not many in Iraq considered Iraq to be an independent country. Once World War I started, Iraq became a major war-zone between the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente just like the entire of the Middle East was during that time.
After World War I, Iraq became a British Mandate as per the League of Nations with the borders made secretly per the Sykes-Picot Treaty of 1916 (link here and here). However, this British Mandate faced two major rebellions from the beginning of Iraq’s existence: in 1920 fighting both the Sunni and Shia groups and between 1919 to 1923 against Kurdish groups. These rebellions forced the British to revise the terms of the mandate and give Iraq a government under a puppet leadership. Very few rebellions struck Iraq after that time until Iraq’s independence. The British Mandate of Iraq renamed to the Kingdom of Iraq in 1932, a newly formed independent state. British occupation and direct puppetry also ended with this renaming.
In the following years, things went downhill; from 1935 to 1936, a revolt against the Iraqi Government by Shi’a groups occurred. In 1935, there was a failed Yazidi Revolt against the Iraqi government. In 1936, a successful coup d’état against the government of Iraq occurred, taking Iraq’s government once more… 5 coups occurred between 1936-1941 with some successful and some unsuccessful. By 1941, the British re-occupied Iraq, believing Nazi Germany was going to take over the Middle East through launching a pro-Nazi coup. The 1941 occupation of Iraq brought the restoration of the pro-Anglo leader Abd Al-Ilah who had fled from the coup earlier in the year. The British persisted the occupation until 1947, however. Until the successful coup in 1958, there was relative peace in Iraq caused by a more stable leadership. After the 1958 coup, revolutions in 1959 and two revolutions in 1963 broke this stability and peace in Iraq.
As the main objectives of the first 1963 Revolution were a success, the Ba’athist Party snatched power and by 1979, Iraq had Saddam Hussein the head of government. Hussein, who despite bringing “unity” to most of Iraq, used brutal and barbarous techniques to force such unity. The torture and the techniques can be identified in three key pieces of evidence that were accounted for in Iraq during the time period between 1979-2003.
The development of a drastic increase in torture occurring in Ba’athist Iraq is shown through their actions. One set of actions included abducting journalists, cameramen, and people who would speak to the press about their government. These journalists were usually Iraqi nationals who were working for the foreign journalists, and would torture them to force confessions that the CNN headquarters was a CIA headquarters.
The documentation of torture in Iraq can also be identified through The First Evidence, a book that was made by a survivor of torture, who wrote about the conditions and treatment that Iraqi Prisoners and Iraqi minorities were forced to endure. The treatment of “minorities” included mass execution of Shia populations in Iraq, rapes, and outright murder. Iraqi prisoners experienced the same fate as minorities in Ba’athist Iraq.
Another portion of evidence of this increased torture is observed in multiple testimonies that appeared before, during, and after the 2003 intervention in Iraq. These include mass executions, genocide against the Kurds and Shia’s, cutting tongues, decapitation with swords, rape of relatives, and atrocious crimes that cannot be described in a report.
As the development of increased torture increased, so did the military hawks of Iraq launch two wars for the “unity” of Iraq. There were three wars from the Ba’athist Regime that can be observed as examples of how violence was used in the creation of this false “unity.”
The 1991 rebellion against the Ba’athist Regime took place right after the intervention between Iraq and the Coalition. This rebellion involved Shia soldiers from the south and the Kurds in the north who were enraged with Saddam Hussein’s regime and sought the elimination of the Ba’athist Party from Iraq. Instead, they were denied support from the Coalition, something they were expecting to occur. As a result, they were brutally crushed using chemical weapons, human shields, and mass murder of civilians and military personnel alike.
Through such time, Iraq went to war three times against foreign nations with attacks by foreign powers. These examples would include the Iran-Iraqi War, which claimed the lives of at least 150,000 Iranians and at least 250,000 Iraqis, though it is more likely that more Iranis died than Iraqis (link here). The other intervention in Kuwait costed Iraq 20,000+ soldiers (link here) and the 2003 intervention costed Iraq at least 10,000 Iraqi soldiers (link here).
As a result of these three wars, the economic and social mobilizations entrenched an extreme and powerful Ba’athist regime from the outside. Those who didn’t mobilize with the country were tortured, executed, abducted, and disappeared to maintain their outside presence as a powerful and unified nation.
After the 2003 intervention ceased, and the Ba’athist government in Iraq was overthrown, a regime that claimed democracy and human rights came into power. To some degree they have confirmed this promise as true, and in other they have confirmed such as false. The Coalition Provisional Authority was put into power, and torture restored its reign. The United States authorized torture in Abu Ghraib and multiple other locations where the main participant for the crisis would be the Central Intelligence Agency (link here). In reality, this isn’t just in Abu Ghraib. This is Iraqi officials also participating in this abuse actively to the point where it is conventional knowledge this has not ceased. And all of that, was assisted by the United States (link here).
For much of Iraq’s history, Iraq has been in a near constant state of warfare. It is not surprising that many hundreds of thousands are prepared and willing to fight against the current government for atrocities that they have and have not committed. It is not surprising that so many in these countries are prepared for a continuation of a constant near century long war, and the usual sights of war exhaustion is not present in Iraq. This is a sign they have been conditioned to accept constant warfare as a way of life, no matter the human and monetary costs.
In reality, the fact that Iraq has been in such a political hotbed recently is not a side effect of an occupation. It is a matter of timing that the most recent event to have occurred was an occupation from a disliked power.
2. Constant Abuse from Western Powers
Constant abuse from western powers is not only recent with multi-national interventions, but is evident as early as World War I. This constant abuse from the Western Powers is mostly focused on Great Britain and the United States, even though other Western Nations assisted in the Coalition in Iraq.
These abuses include the use of banned weaponry in Iraq, taking imperial control of Iraq and installing puppet governments, launching costly sanctions against Iraq, humiliating Iraq in general, and using Iraq’s local issues to monopolize on Iraqi major oil supplies.
The Use of Banned Weaponry in Iraq:
Iraq is one of the few places where extensive usage of banned weaponry is present. These banned weapons include cluster bombs, depleted uranium, and white phosphorus.
The United States dropped 10,800 cluster bombs during an invasion that lasted less than a month. Even though they are effective against armor, they are unquestionably dangerous for civilians on the ground. Cluster bombs emit substantial amounts of shrapnel, destroying military and civilian targets alike.
The truly terrible thing about cluster bombs is general coverage and the general lack of ability to target against civilian or military. Cluster bombs cannot be aimed well because the bombs were not made to be accurate. Cluster bombs are designed for large scale battlefields where few civilians are present. Despite them being banned in 2006 right after the Lebanon War, the United States has not signed this treaty. It can be inferred the reason why the United States fails to acknowledge this is because the United States would be forced to admit the mistake of using cluster bombs in the Iraq War. The number of casualties stemming from the use of cluster bombs is unknown (link here and here).
Another weapon that was deployed and used during the Iraq War was White Phosphorus, a chemical weapon that has two purposes. One for illumination during nighttime. Another usage would be to burn targets to death, denying the ability for the person to extinguish themselves. White Phosphorus was used most recently and most extensively at the Battle of Fallujah.
Right after the Battle of Fallujah, the coalition was questioned on their usage of White Phosphorus. The coalition completely denied their usage of the weapon. This claim, since then, has been changed to the United States used White Phosphorus only against insurgents (link here). Despite the fact that United States claims this was only used against insurgents, there is evidence to prove otherwise. The evidence appears from a mix of tapes and the short documentary, “Fallujah, The Hidden Massacre”.
Another weapon that was deployed was depleted uranium shells. Health implications from depleted uranium shells were observed through two organizations. According to the World Health Organization, the lung and kidneys have minor issues after exposure to depleted uranium, though the lungs take the brunt of the issue and can cause irradiation damage or lung cancer in serious cases. This is for military personnel that were present, and the citizens who were living in the area (link here).
For civilians present, it brings upon much more serious risks. The most serious risks can be observed in Basrah’s Maternity Hospital, which are seeing more cancer and birth defect issues than ever before in the history of the maternity hospital. Whether depleted uranium is the cause of the increase of lung cancer and other health issues remains controversial. Doctors working in these hospitals at the time, however, believe that depleted uranium is to blame. According to the source, the rates for cancer for these cities are higher than the cancer and birth defect rates in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 (link here and here).
Even though the Department of Veterans Affairs defends the position that Depleted Uranium usage didn’t cause any health issues, the evidence provided questions these claims, and suggests otherwise (link here).
Taking Imperial Control of Iraq and Installing Puppet Governments:
The West has taken Iraq’s government on multiple occasions and created a puppet government out of Iraq. The leaders of these governments were either not of Iraqi descent or were given extensive support by Western nations.
For example, during the “British Occupation”, Britain established a semi-legitimate government for Iraq under the British protectorate. That means the land was legally Britain’s and the government had British plans in mind, not their own. Early puppet governments in Iraq can be best observed in the first leader of Iraq, Faisal I.
Faisal I was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia and trained in Istanbul. After the war between the Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance, the British were given Iraq and Faisal I became the leader of Syria until the French ousted him. He was offered a leadership opportunity in Iraq after the 1920 Great Iraqi Revolution to make it appear Iraqi’s were being represented.
It was, and still is, very rare to see a person become the king of two countries non-consecutively unless the true leader of the territory has control of that “king.” It is even less likely true if the leader wasn’t even born, raised, and trained in the nations he or she controlled.
Faisal I was, therefore, a puppet ruler for Britain and France. Iraq was under control since the 1920’s and 30’s with a puppet government, until it became an independent country and many coups and revolutions changed this possibility of being able to keep the regime under control.
Saddam Hussein is another case that shows sings of being a Western puppet until the 1991 Invasion of Kuwait. He put himself into power, unlike Faisal I, who was placed into power by Britain. He was born into a herder family and he attended college in Cairo. Unlike Faisal I however, he received his support from the United States. This support includes assisting chemical weapons attacks, military training, giving arms to Iraq, intelligence training, and multiple other supports (link here and here). As a result, the Iran-Iraqi War continued as one of the largest land wars of the 20th century with both sides disregarding a starving population, extensive losses, and sideline issues. The Americans used the same weapons that they gave to Iraq during the two interventions between Iraq and the coalition.
Saddam Hussein shows the benefits and the consequences of the Western Powers, which ultimately used Iraq to make Iraq a puppet government of the United States. The United States controlled Iraq even their government was not in favor of such by starving and embargoing their country into submission.
Currently, it can be inferred the Coalition installed government is also a puppet government. Even though the Iraqi people may have voted for these leaders, all of them are allied to the United States. Especially during the transition between an Iraqi government and a United States occupied territory, this idea can be observed as the first leader after Saddam Hussein was an American. This wasn’t seen in Afghanistan when they were taken over as the Northern Alliance took command. This isn’t so present in Afghanistan in modern times either, where Hamid Karazai, the current leader of Afghanistan, is working towards Russian-Afghani ties.
Launching Terrible Sanctions Against Iraq:
A current and more recent phenomenon of Iraq currently would be the sanctions that were launched against Iraq between 1991-2003. Obviously, these sanctions were relatively short but they were disastrous as well. This, in specific, would be Resolution 661, 687, 688, 715, 833, 986 (The oil-for-food idea) and multiple others. These caused the deaths of 4,500 children per month average according to the United Nations Children Fund (link here and here).
The reasons of these sanctions were established because Kuwait was invaded. Then, after they ceded Kuwait back to an independent state, this embargo sustained Iraq was repressing their citizens. It can be inferred sanctions weren’t for that reason because the United States knew well beforehand the Iraqi’s were abusing citizens. To say this embargo was not at least influenced by corruption of the United Nations and the United States, one has to take into account the United States supported the oil-for-food idea. This idea is that Iraq can sell its oil for food that is under supervision of the United Nations. Under a deal like this, they cannot buy anything else through oil profits and it practically nationalizes the Iraqi economy. This also causes an isolated state that trades less and less. The starvation in Iraq increased dissent against the Iraqi regime yet also was criticized by Iraqi’s as Western sieging of Iraq.
A great case study in Iraq that shows the effects of this embargo would include how quickly and how grandly the price of wheat flower increased in Iraq. The price of wheat flower increased 11,667 times in 1995 from 1989 because of the embargo and a general turn-around of US relations (link here).
Humiliating Iraq in General:
Iraq, with everything that happened, was also completely humiliated over its existence. This only starts with the Sykes-Picot Treaty, which separated Syria and Iraq, and humiliating Iraq’s history before everything. After its independence from the Ottoman Empire, Iraq was brought into the British as an occupied territory. The Iraqis had to fight in 1920 for their mandate status, and were a mandate until 1932. After that, Iraq were occupied by Britain in 1941 by the Allies, preventing a truly independent government from forming. After such, Iraq had a period of comparative prosperity until the late 70’s, when the United States gave the Iraqi’s chemical weapons, training, etc. to fight Iran, making Iraq a proxy war for the United States.
After the taking of Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq retreated, humiliating Iraq’s Army and causing Iraq to go into a firestorm of humiliation such as the no-fly zone, sanctions, and rebellions. After the 2003 war, the United States continued to humiliate Iraq army and lifestyle by taking over Iraq and occupying more brutally than the British had ever during such time. The United States went as far as to disband the entire Iraqi Army during that time (link here).
Even though it may appear minor, embarrassment of any nation will cause major aggression to take place.
Using Iraq’s Local Issues and Solutions to Monopolize Iraqi Oil:
In each and every local issue that Iraq had, the West found a way to monopolize it for oil. With this examination, multiple examples will be brought up to prove such. Some of these examples would include the oil-for-food program and the 2003 invasion for oil. Another example would include the British exportation of oil during the time Iraq was a mandate of the British. Each of these that have not been explained the last one will be explained here.
In the 1920’s, for a while, Iraq was a desolate land with little to offer. The only reason the British had such interest in the land is because British ships had been recently converted to oil in 1912, and Britian had discovered oil in Iran only 4 years before that time. The Iraqis, due to the close vicinity to Iran, would be believed to have oil. The British were right. An oil field located close to Kirkuk that would create conflict for Iraq to today would be the Baba Gurgur field, one of the largest oil fields on Earth (link here).
As a result, it can be inferred that the British in both times, monopolized on this and took a percentage of the profits from the oil field, to the point that the United States went after the oil as well in 2003.
The United States and Britain going after Iraq’s oil even in 2003 is evident. This can be proven through the fact that between 1972 to 2003, oil had been entirely nationalized by the Iraqi regime. Ten years after the Iraqi War, nearly the entire oil industry in Iraq was taken over by multiple multi-national oil companies. It can be inferred they went to the point where they made an autonomous Kurdish region that loyally defend US oil interests no matter the cost. They are so loyal to the United States however because the Kurds had been fighting for an independent territory since the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, and the United States was the first country to give them one. Remember that most of Iraq’s oil is on offshore platforms and in Kurdistan, both areas where the United States has strong defense of. Multiple top ranking officials have even come out to say that the 2003 intervention was all about oil at the end. There is little doubt that the United States is trying to work with Turkey to continue oppression to make Iraqi Kurdistan the only land for the Kurds in existence (link here).
Conclusion of Part I
One of the major and resurrecting issues as a result of these two major factors would be an organization like ISIS. This is not to say that more recent events such as the training of the Al-Nuasra Front and the Free Syrian Army did not contribute and assist with ISIS. However, the two major reasons are most of the reasoning why ISIS formed where it did.
Other minor yet affecting reasons would include:
Extensive Arms Trafficking to Iraq- Iraq has been continuously armed since its existence, first from the breakup from the Ottoman Empire and from multiple arms dealings. These would include huge arms deals between the United States and Soviet Union to Iraq during the Iran Iraqi War. Iraq has had so many arms brought into the country, it is no surprise they were able to build a well equipped 2 million man army in their nation.
Unstable Regional Area- Iraq is not the only unstable country. Other countries that were unstable in the area include Syria, a former French country, and Afghanistan. As well as such, underground groups that have been fighting in the area naturally have spread their instability to Iraq. The spread of instability is mostly due to the fact that Iraq is a new “democracy.”
Proxy Wars- Iran and Saudi Arabia have been fighting and vying for control of Iraq for many years as it serves as the only major divider on land between the Sunni dominated Saudi Arabia and the Shia dominated Iran. This has come out in covert hostilities between the two nations and countless issues regarding such. This has come out in proxy conflicts across Yemen and other minor nations during such time. Iran and Saudi Arabia are also major oil producers and they compete in such a market. This can be seen as a proxy with ISIS getting minor covert assistance from Saudi Arabia because of the fact that ISIS is a Sunni-Based organization, and Iran giving direct military assistance to Iraq because it is controlled by a Shia government.