Interventions against the Islamic Behemoth

Just recently, cries in German streets demanding „death to Israel“ have faded, anti-Semitic slogans and assaults by peace activists and Islamists have vanished, at least from the media, and synagogues in Kassel and Wuppertal have opened again. But still, the fear of anti-Semitic attacks remains, not only in Germany. Violent attacks and public hostilities against Jews and synagogues have also happened in France, Great Britain and Scandinavia, especially often in a context of so-called „Pro-Palestinian“ demonstrations. Those phenomena are not new. Neither is the reaction of the German and European assumed left, which has always been in the front line when it is about the state of Israel. In the wake of the Islamic State’s (IS) actual genocide in Nortern Iraq against Kurds, Christians, Yazidis, Shabaks, Sufis and Shiites, there are no demostrations mobilizing thousands of European citizens, demanding the end of the reign of terror by the self-announced kaliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, shouting „childmurderer IS“. Obviosly, peace activists as well as the assumed left do not find a reason for fervent solidarity with the „wretched of the earth“ when they can not blame Israel for it. Instead of undertaking complex analysis, the left is just doing what it does best: blame Georg W. Bush jr. and the US for the rise of the Islamic State. Why does the left not see the Islamic Behemoth ravaging in the heart of the Arab region?
 

The West – a most welcome scapegoat?

 

Iraq is not a united state that could fight IS‘ terror, but this is not primarily a failure of Western intervention. Iraq’s failed transformation from an ethno-despotism into a pluralist national state has deeper roots. When the Ba’ath party came to power, it tried to impose their vision of Sunni pan-Arabism on the whole nation, often by the use of brutish force. In the 1970s, the Kurds in northern Iraq were threatened with Arabisation and Islamification by the Ba’ath regime, which included i. e. violent resettlements. Most significantly, the so-called al-Anfal-Campaign killed about 50.000 to 182.000 people in 1988. Likewise, uprisings at the end of the First Gulf War in the south (which were dominated by Shiite rebels) as well as in the Kurdish north of Iraq were brutally struck down. Afer the downfall of Saddam Hussein, religious and ethnic violence are ongoing, mostly against civilian targets. Since the withdrawal of the U.S. Army, the situation has become worse: This shows in the abatement of several, mostly Sunnite uprisings in 2011 by the Shiite goverment. Only Iraqi Kurds have established a functional and semi-autonomous government.
IS is not a product of the West. It is an authoritarian reaction to modern social developments, such as liberal movements. It is the negation of the classical civic state and its rule of law. Certainly, the vacuum left after the U.S. withdrawal as well as the neglect of democratic forces in Syria by the West, were enabling factors for the IS. IS, formerly known as al Tawhid Wal Jihad, which has been fighting in an armed conflict against U.S. troops and civilians since 2003, was part of the international terror organization al-Qaeda until February 2014. In the course of their involvement in the Syrian civil war it broke with al-Qaeda, because IS has sought to extent the jihadist war internationally. IS wants to establish pan-Arabic, potentially worldwide caliphate. In order to underline their ambitions, IS is spreading brutish images through the media. Today, IS controls vast regions in northwestern Iraq and parts of neighbouring Syria. IS terrorizes Yazides, Shiites, Christians and others for being infidels, offering them conversion or execution. Especially the Yazides are affected.
Thanks to the fighters of the PKK and the Peshmerga, the flags of the IS are not dominating the rooftops of cities like Arbil or Baghdad. Still, IS is controlling Iraq’s second biggest city, Mosul, as well as infrastructual intersections such as airports, petroleum refineries and checkpoints. The Kurds, who have proven to be the only reliable partner in battle against jihadist terror, need more sustainable support than just the overdue airstrikes of the USAF, i. e. military equipment and logistics. 
To ally with Iran, however, must not be an option. The Islamic Republic, the regime of Assad and Hezbollah can not be considered reliable partners in battle against IS. They are a part of the problem and not the solution, since they have no interest in turning the Middle East into a region that offers protection for minorities. Not least, their brutish proceeding against their enemies shows for which kind of society and ideology they stand.
Additionally, the administration of the autonomous region of Kurdistan is being pressurised since the intervention of Iraq’s army against IS. The government of Iraq seeks to prevent a secession of Kurdistan, as well as further territorial claims. Furthermore, Iranian Al-Quds Brigades are currently backing up Iraq’s troops; the Kurdish army fears a conflict for a reason. Iran does not fancy an approach of the Kurds with Israel for instance, and it has shown that it does not shrink from interfering in Iraqi matters as it has happenened in the past. Through its influence on the Shiite government and their former president Nuri al-Maliki, incidents like in Camp Ashraf in September 2013 occurred, when 52 members of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran were killed. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) though, which has its biggest influence in Western Kurdish territories, has close ties to the regime of Teheran, especially since the Iran-Iraq War. Those ties have become closer during the conflict between the Democratic Party of Kurdistan (DPK) and the PUK in the 1990s. An Iranian exertion of influence could accelerate a division between Kurdish territories and hinder the establishment of a Kurdish national state. It is all the more important that the US have proven to be a more or less reliable partner of the Kurds: Their airstrikes on posts of the IS and the dropping of humanitarian aid probably saved the lives of many thousands of Yazidis, who had been under siege by the IS militia on Mount Sinjar. The USAF also backed the liberation of the city of Amirli by Iraqi troops and the Peshmerga. The Kurdish government and their armed forces have also welcomed the delivery of arms by the US.
 

The IS is not alone

 

The quick advance and the high durability of the Islamist rackets are due to the partial support of the locals, but also to their, for a terrorist group, strong financial power. The IS funds itself through various activities. One of the most important ones is surely their control over some of the biggest oil and gas refineries in Iraq and Syria. During the conquest of Mossul, IS not only captured high quality weapon systems, but also took about 320 million Euros from the central bank.
But IS is in a comfortable financial situation and owns modern arms also thanks to several regional sponsors. States such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar may still deny their involvement: German development minister Gerd Müller recently had to back-pedal, after he had assumed Qatar might be financing the milita of IS. Yet, there is evidence that financial aid is not granted by the states themselves, but by various private Islamic foundations. Also during the Syrian civil war, these money lenders from Saudi Arabia and Qatar supported Sunnite Islamist groups against their enemy Iran and its ally Assad with extensive capital. Through those detours, German weapons got into the hands of IS. Turkey is playing a similar role in this conflict: The Turkish police found weapons in relief supplies which were being shipped by the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), which is close to the governing party AKP. Also, a gathering of Islamists in Istanbul in the end of July was apparently tolerated by the local police. Prime minister Erdogan denies any sort of involvement, but the campaign of IS against the Kurdish territories in northern Syria seems to be convenient for him. This is why the regional support for IS is on the one side denied, but on the other side apparent at the same time.
 

Escape without destination

 

More than one million people in Iraq are currently fleeing the IS militia. Most of them are heading towards the Kurdish territories in the north. Many took their ways over the Sinjar Mountains, where shortly afterwards jihadists surrounded them. Far more than 80.000 people had been trapped in the mountains and had to endure the sun, hunger and heat. Hundreds died of hunger and thirst. The USA supplied the region with edibles during their air offensive. In the mid of August, Kurdish fighters and the U.S. Army succeeded in breaking the siege of IS, so that most of the people were able to save themselves. But there are still about 1.000 refugees in the mountain region. In a similar way, the situation of the inhabitants of Amirli had gotten worse because they had been under siege for two months. Only on the 31st of August, Kurdish fighters succeeded in breaking through the siege and were able to help the trapped population. Most of the refugees seek shelter in the northern Kurdish regions. But still, even with foreign financial aid, it is not clear how these masses of refugees are to be accommodated and housed. Most of them wish to return to their homes as soon as possible. But as IS is gaining more and more supporters and is still in control of the vast parts of the land, returning to their homes does not seem to be realistic for the refugees.
Germany is supporting the provision of the refugees in northern Iraq mainly with financial aid. A program of admission for Iraqi refugees is currently being debated in the EU, a few more than one hundred have already been received in Germany. The German ministers of the interior consider the capacities of admission to be exhausted, and resist further admission of asylum seekers in the majority. The federal minister of the interior, Thomas de Maizière (CDU), assumed the main task would be to take care of the refugees where they are, and not somewhere else. The question remains whether the government of Iraq, which is incapable of action, will be able to solve this task in the structurally underdeveloped regions of Kurdistan.
 

Terror as an export commodity

 

IS is recruiting its fighters not only in Iraq and Syria, but all over the world. This also includes Europe. Their new forms of recruitment are especially noteworthy: Through social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, IS is hiring Islamists for their terror organisation by means of professionally produced (snuff) videos. Approximately 2.000 Europeans are or have been fighting for the IS, while it remains uncertain whether the 1.000 European Islamists, who have been already killed, are included in this number (status: June 2014). According to offical informations, between 300 and 400 Islamists with German citizenship are currently residing in the territory of IS. Additionally, we can see backward movements. The threat, which is especially imposed on the Jewish community by Islamists and their supporters, became obvious when in May a French citizen, who had been part of the IS and fighting in Syria, attacked the Jewish museum in Brussels and murdered four people. This incident shows that one should reckon with jihadists returning from the holy war with dangerous mindsets.  
As impotent as one might be towards the current events in Iraq, the fight against local admirers and supporters of IS and the disruption of their propagandistic rallies is a duty of local antifascist groups. This is a contribution to the combating of IS, even if it is only a little one. Hatred towards modernity, „contempt for the individual, self-abandonment for the community, a cult of ‚honor‘, an affinity to death, recruitment of rackets out of ruffian thugs“ (Galow-Bergemann): All this does not only apply to Nazis, but also to jihadists, on condition of religious fundamentalism. When a mob of IS-sympathisers roams the streets to hunt down „infidels“, as it recently has happened in the German city Herford, it is time for the left to counter the anticivilising madness. This does not only apply to the IS. As pestering and urgent the fight against IS may be, it is just as necessary and important to remember the other rackets of murderers in this region: Hamas, which has no problem using the people of Gaza as human shields; the Iranian regime, which is still trying to build an atom bomb; Assad and his henchmen, because of whom the Syrian population has been suffering for far too long; the Hezbollah, which continues to commit anti-Semitic assaults. Especially their wellorganised lobby and their belittlement in Europe make them particularly threatening. Essentially, they are as fascist as IS, and both ideologically and methodically equal to it. A left which does not reflect on this and turns a blind eye to violence, displacement and madness is of no use for anybody, especially not for the „wretched of the earth“.
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