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June 17, 2014 No.
5774

Pro-Iranian, Pro-Saudi Camps In Arab World Accuse Each Other Of Engineering ISIS Takeover Of Iraq

The takeover of large parts of Iraq by the terrorist organization The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was met with astonishment in Arab world. ISIS's advance was termed "a disaster",[1] a tsunami,[2] or even "the end of the Arabs."[3] The surprising nature of the developments – namely ISIS's rapid takeover of extensive areas of the country without significant resistance from the Iraqi army – raised questions and sparked mutual accusations between supporters and opponents of the Nouri Al-Maliki regime both within Iraq and outside it. Each side accused the other of aiding and abetting the ISIS takeover in order to promote its interests.

Al-Maliki's associates and his allies in the Arab world – the Assad regime and the Hizbullah organization – expressed support for his war on terror and accused Saudi Arabia and Turkey of supporting this terror and working to oust the Al-Maliki regime, having failed in their attempts to topple the Assad regime. The Syrian Foreign Ministry condemned ISIS's terror in Iraq and expressed its support for the Iraqi government and army in their struggle against it, while emphasizing that the terror faced by Iraq – which, they said, was funded and armed by various countries – was the very same terror faced by the Syrian regime.[4] The Iraqi daily Al-Da'wa, the paper of the Shi'ite Da'wa Party, reported that ISIS activities in Mosul and Samarra were directly supervised by Saudi Arabia's King 'Abdallah in coordination with Qatar, and that these two countries were working to detach the Sunni districts from Iraq and turn them into extremist Islamic emirates.[5] The Lebanese daily Al-Safir, a known backer of the Hizbullah-led resistance axis, claimed that Qatar and Saudi Arabia, who supported the rebels in Syria, had decided "to stab the resistance crescent in its Iraqi heart, which is its weakest link." The daily reported, citing a Syrian source on the Syrian-Turkish border, that Turkey had facilitated the passage of hundreds of Arab and foreign fighters – especially Saudis – across the Syrian-Turkish border two days before the attack on Mosul.[6]

The states opposing the Al-Maliki regime, headed by Saudi Arabia, rejected accusations that they supported ISIS, and their media carried many reports that members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and of Hizbullah had entered Iraq to help the Al-Maliki government repulse the ISIS advance.[7] The Gulf States' media claimed that Al-Maliki himself, with Iranian assistance, was the one backing ISIS in order to obtain another term of office as prime minister by virtue of his war on terror. Another claim was that ISIS – created by Iran – was a monster that had risen up against its maker.

Prince Turki Al-Faisal, formerly the Saudi ambassador to Washington and chief of Saudi intelligence, held Al-Maliki responsible for what was occurring in Iraq. He claimed that the events in Iraq were "a long-foreseen result of Al-Maliki's policy of stoking sectarianism and falling into the lap of regional powers uninterested in the good of Iraq and its people" – an allusion to Iran. Al-Faisal stressed that his country obviously does not support ISIS, which is on its list of terrorist organizations. He said that the situation in Iraq was fluid and unpredictable, and noted that "an ironic situation may even arise, where the IRGC and American drones would fight together to kill Iraqis... – which leads [us] to wonder where we are headed."[8]

This report reviews the mutual accusations in the media between Al-Maliki's supporters in the Arab world and his opponents.

Saudi Daily 'Al-Yawm': ISIS In Iraq Serves Al-Maliki And Tehran; Al-Maliki Must Have Ordered The Withdrawal Of Iraqi Forces From Mosul

An editorial in the daily Al-Yawm said: "The Arabs, [including] the Iraqis, are amazed and embarrassed, [wondering] how militias limited in their size and equipment managed to capture the city of Mosul, filled with modern army [units] equipped with extensive military gear. However, if we examine the tortuous behavior of ISIS and the Al-Maliki regime in Iraq, the matter is neither amazing nor surprising, nor is it related to the Iraqi army's capability. Rather, [it has to do with] the tactics of Prime Minister Al-Maliki, who surely ordered Iraqi army units to withdraw from Mosul, abandoning it as prey for the ISIS militias. Perhaps [he did this] in an effort to create an upheaval and [thus] remain [in the post of] prime minister as Iraq's savior and as the preserver of Iran's influence, in accordance with the image of himself that he markets [to the world], or in order to prepare the de facto partition of Iraq and allow the Kurdish militias to take over Kirkuk and thus start Iraq's effective dismemberment.

"Yesterday, Al-Maliki plucked the first fruit of the fall of Mosul when Iraqi jurisprudent Muqtada Al-Sadr – Al-Maliki's bitter rival and the primary threat to his leadership – announced a pact with the government and security forces to contend with the ISIS threat. Before this, Al-Sadr had hoped to depose Al-Maliki from power in Iraq, but today he is forced to make an alliance with him...

"Assuming that all of ISIS's actions in Iraq and Syria serve the interests of Iran, it seems that Tehran has decided to partition Iraq and take over the oil-rich south. It is hard to imagine that Al-Maliki and his security forces and military commanders were unaware of large-scale movements by ISIS, whom they must monitor 24 hours [a day], if they are actually fighting the organization as they say they are. It is clear that Al-Maliki has a plan more important than Mosul's liberty that will be executed solely via a mutual exchange of services with this terrorist organization. ISIS has already provided Al-Maliki with plenty of opportunities in the past to [abuse] Iraqi cities with abandon, randomly attack them, arrest thousands of the best Iraqi youths and imprison them in secret jails on the excuse of fighting ISIS.

"ISIS's behavior in Syria [also] arouses suspicion and is entirely at the service of Assad and his regime, just as ISIS's conduct in Iraq serves Al-Maliki and Tehran..."[9]


"The militias" – a fig leaf for Al-Maliki (Al-Arab, Qatar, June 12, 2014)

Saudi Daily 'Al-Watan': It Is Al-Maliki's Policy Of Sectarianism And Exclusion That Drove Iraqis To Make A Pact With The Devil

An editorial in the Saudi daily Al-Watan supported a statement issued by the Saudi government that held Al-Maliki responsible for the events in Iraq. Al-Watan said: "Clearly explaining the Iraqi crisis and touching on the essence and roots of the problem, the government's statement from yesterday clarified that 'the events in Iraq would never have taken place if it were not for the policy of sectarianism and exclusion that has been employed in Iraq in the past years, and which jeopardized its security, stability and sovereignty.' The statement thus summarized [and clarified] all the various commentaries that tiptoe around the real problem without identifying its roots.

"And now comes a series of questions and estimated answers. For example: had Al-Maliki's regime refrained from pursuing a policy of exclusion and sectarianism, would the extremist ISIS have found a reason to take over the second largest province in Iraq? Would it have found supporters among the [Iraqi] people? Al-Maliki drove many Iraqis to make a pact with these extremist organizations and even with the devil, in order to end the rule of this oppressive and sectarian regime. That is the reason for the [tripartite] alliance between many tribal leaders, [former members of] the Ba'th party, and ISIS. It was a result of Al-Maliki's disregard for Iraq's security and sovereignty."[10]


Iran: "We will not sit by with our hands folded in the face of the terrorism in the region". The octopus tentacles are labeled: "Hizbullah, ISIS, Shi'ite militias, Al-Maliki, Al-Qaeda, IRGC, Al-Assad, the Shabiha, the Syrian army" (Al-Watan, Saudi Arabia, June 14, 2014)

Saudi Daily 'Al-Sharq': The ISIS Takeover – An Iranian Plan For Subjugating The Sunnis

An editorial of the Saudi daily Al-Sharq stated: "Al-Qaeda's branch in Iraq, [called 'The Islamic State in Iraq,'] became 'The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria' after the outbreak of the Syrian uprising and after the rebels began to advance in all parts [of Syria], driving back the Assad forces. In Iraq, this change coincided with youth protests in the squares of Al-Anbar [province], where they chanted slogans against Nouri Al-Maliki's government and demanded to cancel laws oppressing the Sunnis of Iraq and to release prisoners. These slogans came close to toppling [Al-Maliki's] government. It has become clear that the political and military developments in Syria and Iraq were coordinated, since the Syrian regime [like the Iraqi regime] let ISIS take over certain regions in the northeast of the country, stretching from Aleppo to the Iraqi border, so they would become a model of extremism and terrorism in the guise of a so-called Islamic state.

"In Iraq, where [ISIS] enjoys freedom of movement, it is attacking cities and provinces and taking them over, while Al-Maliki's soldiers, armed to the teeth, abandon their posts quietly, without firing a single shot, leaving their weapons and heavy gear to [be captured by] this organization, thus creating the impression that it is an invading army... This is the same organization that, according to many reports and to testimony taken from its officials, is controlled by Iran. [Iran] directs it to suit its [own] interests, in an attempt to reconstruct the countries of the region on a sectarian basis, and encourages it to be the representative of a [emerging] Sunni state, which is the epitome of brazen extremism and terrorism.

"The new name of Al-Qaeda's branch in Iraq is not a trivial matter. It marks the beginning of the implementation of an Iranian conspiracy to uproot the [Sunni] residents of the Iraqi and Syrian cities and to surround [these cities] with areas controlled by ISIS, as part of an ethnic cleansing campaign of proportions unprecedented in human history. This, since Iran seeks to [defeat] all those who oppose the Persian plan hiding behind the [regime of] the Rule of the Jurisprudent by subjugating them to ISIS, so that it establishes its kingdom in the region, stretching from Aleppo in Syria to Anbar [province] in Iraq."[11]

'Al-Mustaqbal': The Monster Rose Up Against Its Creator

Columnist 'Ali Noun wrote in the Lebanese daily Al-Mustaqbal, which belongs to the anti-Iranian March 14 Forces camp: "The accelerated and surprising developments in Iraq seem like complicated and puzzling riddles, but not to those who invented and shaped them, namely the Iran-Al-Maliki-Assad axis, and it alone...

"It seems as though the monster that the Iran axis created in order to eliminate the Syrian opposition has risen up against its creator. The Iraqi Frankenstein has emerged from the [realm] of fiction, imagination and legend to become an actual bloody reality...

"How does it make sense that Al-Maliki's forces were defeated overnight in an area effectively constituting half of Iraqi territory? How did this happen to the same [Iraqi] forces who, over the years, have entered into various kinds of confrontations that did not cause them to leave their posts?

"The answers and secrets regarding what has, is, and will happen do not change the conclusion that Iraq is witnessing a sectarian war, and that the chief responsibility for the situation lies solely with Al-Maliki, his followers and his masters in Tehran."[12]

'Al-Sharq Al-Awsat' Columnist: Events In Iraq Are The Result Of Iranian Influence Over The Arab World

Lebanese columnist Iyad Abu Shakra published an article in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat titled "The End of Arabs?!", in which he wrote: "I claim that we are burying the Arab identity, whether we are burying it alive or after it has already died. This is what happens when Mosul,... one of the cities of Arabism and Islam, falls to an armed organization that has nothing to do with Arabism or Islam, and when [the cities of] Deir Al-Zor, Al-Ramadi, Al-Fallujah, and Al-Hasakah are threatened, after Al-Raqqa already fell about a month ago...

"This is what happens when the actual decision-making in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon passes to non-Arab hands, [and] when Yemen is crushed between the Iranian hammer – [in the form of] the Houthis, who are crawling towards Sana'a – and the anvil, [in the form of] the Al-Qaeda groups deployed in the south alongside the Iranian presence...

"ISIS has spent the last [few] years fighting the Free Syrian Army and other factions rebelling against the Syrian regime, but never attacked the regime's army. This regime, for its part, did not hesitate to attack the cities and villages of Syria with various types of deadly weapons, including weapons banned by international [conventions], but it did not even once attack concentrations or headquarters of ISIS [fighters]..." [13]

'Al-Thawra' Editor: Saudi Fingerprints All Over Iraq And Syria

Conversely, 'Ali Qassem, editor-in-chief of the Syrian government daily Al-Thawra, accused Saudi Arabia of being behind ISIS: "Saudi fingerprints are tangibly apparent in the financing and arming of terrorism on all the broad confrontation fronts, which have experienced terrorist activity from the beginning, when Al-Qaeda was first established, and until the appearance of its new clone organizations...

"Saudi terrorism, about which the West kept silent and is still keeping silent, is the common denominator of all the factors in the regional and extra-regional expansion [of this terrorism]. Human [history] is replete with the clear fingerprints [of Saudi terrorism], from the events of September [11, 2001] and before that the Afghanistan [war], to Chechnya and the Caucasus, and also in the Arab regions, from the Arab east to the Maghreb.

"In the [current] incidents in Iraq and the escalating terrorist attack, no Western country is unaware of the Saudi role in assisting terrorism, financing it and arming it in the various fronts, inside and outside Iraq and in all of Syria. [Saudi Arabia did this] by a seamless division of labor with Qatar and Turkey, and with the ability to perform modifications according to U.S. requests or Israeli desires." [14]

Lebanese 'Al-Akhbar' Editor: This Is A Plan To Harm The Stream That Opposes Western Imperialism, Backed By The U.S., Israel, Europe, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, The MB, And Salafis

Ibrahim Al-Amin, board chairman of the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, which is known for its support of Hizbullah and the resistance axis, wrote: "[The events in Iraq and Syria] have one single purpose, which is to destroy our states, armies and institutions, tear [our] social fabric apart, and prevent the axis which opposes American-European-Zionist imperialism from gaining victories...

"This plan was meant to harm Syria... but its abject failure forced the countries and elements that support this lunacy – starting with the U.S., Israel and Syria and culminating with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, along with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi streams – to look for other options.

"They are implementing what Israel is always saying out loud: 'The Axis of Evil has become a chain that starts with Iran, continues with Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, and reaches Palestine. [So] the thing to do is undermine its foundations in Palestine, break its body in Lebanon, sever it in Syria, weaken its Iraqi link, and crush its head in Iran.' They tried all these options... and, in light of the abysmal failure [in Syria], they had to move on [to the other links in the chain].

"Today, facing a state of no solution in Palestine, an impasse [vis-à-vis] the stronghold of resistance in Lebanon, a prolonged failure of the plan to topple Syria, and an inability to deliver a blow to Iran, they have no other trick left except to attack in the most depraved and criminal manner [imaginable]. The name of this trick is 'a Sunni state that fragments what is left of what they call the Shi'ite crescent.'"[15]


Someone is tracing the path for ISIS's advance (Al-Mada, Iraq, June 12, 2014)

'Al-Rai Al-Yawm' Editor: Iraq Will Be Divided, And Will Become An Arena For War Between Iran And Saudi Arabia

'Abd Al-Bari 'Atwan, editor of the online London daily Al-Rai Al-Yawm, assessed that Iraq is on the verge of partition and the outbreak of two civil wars, between Shi'ites and Sunnis, and between Kurds and Arabs: "The partition of Iraq is about to become a foregone conclusion. The Iraqis will be lucky if it is divided only into three [states]: Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurdish, since anarchy is likely to make the main headlines in the next stage, and [Iraq is likely to] follow the example of Libya, which is currently bleeding, [only] worse.

"I believe Iraq is on the cusp of two civil wars... whose results will be apparent... throughout the Mashriq.[16] The first will be a sectarian war between Sunnis and Shi'ites, which, in effect, will be a war between proxies of Iran and Saudi Arabia, as is currently happening in Syria. The second will be an ethnic conflict between Arabs and Kurds, the first signs of which were already apparent when ISIS attacked Kirkuk and the Kurdish Peshmerga defended it, responding to Nouri Al-Maliki's call for help."

'Atwan also assessed that the current war in Iraq would deplete the resources of Iran, which is up to its neck in the Syrian war as well.[17]


Iran is driving ISIS by offering up Syria, Iraq (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, London, June 13, 2014)

'Al-Ahram': Who Is Behind ISIS?

The June 12, 2014 editorial of the official Egyptian daily Al-Ahram wondered who is behind ISIS, without pointing fingers: "The fall of Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, into the hands of ISIS fighters is a terrible disaster that threatens not only Iraq's unity and sovereignty, but the security and stability of the entire region...

"The ongoing collapse of Iraq and its dismantling by ISIS could not have happened if the Iraqi government hadn't been weak and incapable of action. Observers lay the blame for the events in Mosul on Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki's failure or unwillingness to preserve the country's unity and sovereignty out of a desire to remain in power.

"The question now is who is behind ISIS, who funds it [and provides it with] weapons and men, and which regional forces support and back it? We call on active regional and international forces to save Iraq from the danger of collapse and help it preserve the integrity of its lands."[18]

Endnotes:

[1] See editorial in Al-Ahram (Egypt), June 12, 2014.

[2] See, for example, 'Abd Al-Bari 'Atwan's article in Al-Rai Al-Yawm (London), June 12, 2014.

[3] See article by Iyad Abu-Shakra in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat London), June 11, 2014.

[4] Sana.sy, June 12, 2014.

[5] Adawaanews.net, June 12, 2014.

[6] Al-Safir (Lebanon) June 13, 2014.

[7] For example, the Lebanese daily Al-Mustaqbal, which supports Lebanon's March 14 Forces, reported on June 15, 2014 that 600 IRGC members had entered Iraq. On June 17 it reported that some of Hizbullah's dead who had been buried during the last two days had been killed in Iraq. Alarabiya.net, the website of the Saudi Al-Arabiya channel, reported on June 15 that Iran had begun recruiting volunteers to fight in Iraq under the slogan of defending the Shi'ite holy places in Baghdad, Samarra, Najaf and Karbala. It was claimed that 4,200 volunteers had signed up within 24 hours.

[8] Alquds.co.uk, June 15, 2014.

[9] Al-Yawm (Saudi Arabia), June 12, 2014.

[10] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), June 17, 2014.

[11] Al-Sharq (Saudi Arabia), June 11, 2014.

[12] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), June 12, 2014.

[13] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 11, 2014.

[14] Al-Thawra (Syria), June 12, 2014.

[15] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), June 13, 2014.

[16] The Muslim world, excluding North Africa.

[17] Raialyoum.com, June 12, 2014.

[18] Al-Ahram (Egypt), June 12, 2014.