The Rise and Fall of ISIS صعود وسقوط داعش

August 10, 2019

by Ghassan Kadi for The Saker Blog

A year or two ago, I would have never imagined that I would be writing an article with this title, at least not this soon; but things change.

If anything, my previous articles about ISIS which I wrote back between 2014 and 2017 were very alarming and predicted the worst, but again, things change, and back then there were many reasons to feel alarmed.

I have reiterated in that era of the past that the ISIS ideology had deep roots in fundamentalist Islam, and I still have this view. I have professed many times that this fundamentalist doctrine had been in place long before Christopher Columbus set a foot on American soil and that we cannot blame the CIA, Israel, the UK, or the West in general for the creation of this ideology, and I am not retracting. I have also said that those fundamentalist views do not represent real Islam, and there is no change in heart on this aspect either. So what has changed?

In this context, we are talking about the ideological rise and fall of ISIS. We are not talking about the political aspects and the horde of players who helped create, manipulate and employ ISIS for different reasons and agendas. With all of those players however, ISIS needed the support base, and that support base was the Muslim youth who are disenchanted by world events and the manner the world views Islam. Furthermore, they are disgruntled by the governments of the Muslims World and their links to the West: links they consider as treasonous and shameful. It was this mindset that was the recruitment base for ISIS; not the Pentagon.

So for the benefit of clarification, I must herein emphasize that there has always been a perverted version of Islam that founded itself on violence; in total contradiction to the Quranic teachings that clearly forbid coercion and oppression. This version was finally committed to a written doctrine, written by Ibn Taymiyyah; the founding doctrine of the Wahhabi Saudi sect.

When the West “discovered” this doctrine, it tried to employ it to its advantage, and this was how Al-Qaeda and ISIS were created, with Al-Qaeda’s role to hurt the USSR in Afghanistan, and ISIS to topple the legitimate and secular Syrian Government.

The not so funny thing about ISIS was that when the proclamation of creating the Islamist state back in mid-2014, the Caliphate passion became something easy to grow and self-nurture in the hearts and minds of many Sunni Muslims across the globe; including moderate ones.

Harking back at what happened back then; one honestly cannot blame them much. After all, many of the then Iraqi ISIS commanders and fighters were former Saddam-era Iraqi Army personnel. Many of them have even actually walked away from the “dictator” in the hope that the “regime change” was going to be for the better, only to soon realize the state of mess and mayhem that the American invasion created.

Before ISIS “had the chance” to show its ugly face, may moderate Muslims thought that this new force emerging out of Mesopotamia, one that does not recognize the border lines that Western colonialists have drawn between Sham (Syria) and Iraq, one that wants to unite Muslims, is perhaps “the one” to go for and support.

Ironically, most of those Muslims today look back at those days and either forget or wish to forget that at one stage, at some level, deep down in their hearts they supported ISIS, albeit not fully knowing what it stood for.

It was this subtle and covert support for ISIS by some elements of the global Sunni rank-and-file that gave ISIS a fertile ground for luring in recruits and that was the major cause for concern.

If anyone looks for evidence that supports this statement, then he/she need not go further than looking at the recent history of terror attacks in the EU (especially France) and the UK.

After the horrendous Bastille Day attack in Nice in the summer of 2016, a new direction for terror was established, and the perpetrator proved that one does not need a weapon to kill. His weapon was a truck, and he didn’t even need to buy it. He rented it.

After this infamous attack and what followed it, I among many others, predicted more of such events, and they continued for a while, and then suddenly they stopped. Why? This is the question.

For ISIS to be have been able to keep its momentum and growing support base, it needed to gain the hearts and minds of Muslims. But to do so, it needed to score victories and be able to revive Muslim nostalgia. Both are equally important.

In the beginning, it boasted its victories and the biggest of which was the takeover of Mosul; Iraq’s second largest city. This was how the ears of many Muslims worldwide pricked up and poised themselves to hear more. Some jumped on the band wagon straight away, but the majority braced and waited for more evidence that ISIS in general, and Baghdadi in specific, are the right ones to trust and follow.

Image result for isis crimes

What followed the capture of Mosul by ISIS however was nothing short of disgrace for ISIS; one that exposed its true inner ugliness. And instead of being able to capitalize on its initial momentum and promising to achieve more of it by adopting at least some of the virtues of Islam, ISIS turned its inability to achieve further military victories into a blood bath, looting and a sex slave market.

Image result for isis crimes

Before too long, even some of the most ardent Muslim supporters of ISIS turned away from it, and then against it, to the degree that they now even forget or deny that they once supported its baby steps.

What is interesting to note is that the move from secularism to Islam has not changed in the Muslim world. An increasing number of Muslim girls are wearing the Hijab with or without ISIS, but ISIS itself has lost its sway with the general Sunni Muslim populace.

What is interesting to see is that the definition of what is a “real Muslim” is changing, and changing quickly. And whilst the move towards Hijab and all what comes with it is still going full steam ahead, there seems to be a growing trend in the Muslim World towards moderation.

The ISIS fundamentals of black and white doctrine seem to be becoming increasingly tolerant of certain shades of grey. Even some personal Facebook friends and friends of friends who have brandished their photos performing Pilgrimage at Mecca don’t seem to be at dis-ease posting other photos brandishing a Heineken. To someone outside the Muslim Faith this may not sound like a big deal, but in reality, it is.

This all sounds good, but what has happened here really?

ISIS has definitely lost the plot. Fortunately for the world, irrespective of who are/were the people “behind” ISIS, its recruitment base had to come from Muslims; especially the youth. Having lost the ability to draw more recruits and enthusiasts who pledge their actions and lives to Baghdadi without even having to be formal ISIS members, ISIS as an organization and a name is now a spent force, and dare I say a figment of the past.

This however does not mean that the Muslim community has “immunized” itself against potential new ISIS-like organizations and agendas.

The initial rise of ISIS could have well been the result of a nostalgic remnant of a certain belief system that many Muslims did not even want to investigate and study properly to see if it really and truly conforms with the Teachings of Islam and all other religions. The fall of ISIS however heralds a new unprecedented era in the Muslim mind, and this calls for great optimism.

Perhaps for the first time in the history of Islam ever since its inception, Muslims are now beginning to examine some teachings they inherited. Even Saudi Arabia and its infamous Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman (MBS) seem to be sick and tired of the old rules and dogmas that allow this and prohibit that; based on no foundation at all. I have never been a fan of MBS, but having lived in Saudi Arabia for a while, I had always thought that this country would never allow women to drive, never ever. The fact that he changed this is a great step in the right direction. This does not take away from MBS’s genocidal activities in Yemen of course, but on the dogmatic side of things, this is a huge step towards reform. In Saudi Arabia there is also a call to have a second take on the Hadith (the spoken word of Prophet Mohamed) in an attempt to identify certain teachings that promote violence and that are incompatible with Islam. The rationale behind this is that they were never the words of the Prophet to begin with and that they might have been injected into the huge discourse by others with political agendas. Such an initiative was totally unfathomable only up till a few years ago.

Does this mean that we are seeing the end of Muslim fundamentalist-based violence? Hopefully we are, but the real answer to this question is for the whole Muslim community to answer.

The truth is that ISIS may be done and dusted, but the ideology behind lives on.

It is hoped for that the actions of ISIS will be remembered for eternity. It is hoped that Muslims realize that if they truly want to pursue the fundamentalist dreams of conquest and world dominion, then they cannot distance themselves from the legacy of ISIS. It is hoped that they look forward to a new world that is open to all religions and doctrines.

I am a firm believer that God created man in His own image, and part of this image is goodness and love of goodness; and Muslims are part of this creation. After all, Muslims, all Muslims believe in the Hadith that says: “The best people are those who most benefit to other people”. Russia and Syria might have won the military war on ISIS, but it is Muslims who have won the spiritual fight. Muslims: 1, ISIS: 0.

ِArabic Translation 

By UP

صعود وسقوط داعش

غسان كادي

 ، لم أكن أتخيل منذ عام أو عامين أبداً أنني سأكتب مقالًا بهذا العنوان؛

في ذلك الوقت كانت هناك أسباب كثيرة للشعور بالقلق، لكن الأمور تتغير.

في مقالاتي السابقة حول داعش التي كتبت في الفترة ما بين 2014 و 2017 كانت مقلقة للغاية وتوقعت الأسوأ ،  لكن الأمور تغيرت .

في تلك الحقبة الماضية كررت أن أيديولوجية داعش لها جذور عميقة في الإسلام الأصولي ،وقلت أيضًا أن تلك الآراء الأصولية لا تمثل الإسلام الحقيقي ولا يزال لدي هذا الرأي. فالعقيدة الأصولية كانت موجودة قبل فترة طويلة من اكتشاف الأرض الأمريكية وعليه لا يمكننا اتهام وكالة الاستخبارات المركزية أو إسرائيل أو المملكة المتحدة أو الغرب عمومًا بإنشاء هذه الأيديولوجية، وأنا هنا لا أتراجع. إذن ما الذي تغير؟

 في هذا السياق، نتحدث عن الصعود ولسقوط الأيديولوجي لداعش، ولا نتحدث عن الجوانب السياسية واللاعبين الذين ساعدوا في إنشاء وتوظيفها لأسباب وجداول أعمال مختلفة. لأنه مع توفر كل هؤلاء اللاعبين، كانت داعش بحاجه إلى بيئة حاضنة وقاعدة الدعم، وكانت البيئة الحاضنة وقاعدة الدعم هي الشباب المسلم المحبط بالأحداث العالمية والطريقة التي ينظر بها العالم إلى الإسلام والاستياء من حكومات العالم الإسلامي وروابطهم الخائنة والمخزية بالغرب. هذا الاحباط والاستياء مكن البنتاغون من التوظيف السياسي لداعش.

لذلك لا بد أن أشدد هنا على الوجود الدائمً لنسخة منحرفة من الإسلام تأسست على العنف ؛ في تناقض تام مع التعاليم القرآنية التي تمنع بوضوح الإكراه والقمع. نسخة كتبها ابن تيمية ؛ العقيدة المؤسسة للطائفة الوهابية السعودية.

عندما “اكتشف” الغرب هذه العقيدة المنحرفة، حاول أن يوظفها لصالحه ، وهكذا تم إنشاء القاعدة وداعش، القاعدة لإلحاق الأذى بالاتحاد السوفيتي في أفغانستان، وداعش لإسقاط الشرعية والعلمانية الحكومة السورية.

 لا شك ان إعلان داعش عن إنشاء الدولة الإسلامية في منتصف عام 2014 ، أيقظ الحنين والأمل بعودة الخلافة في  قلوب وعقول العديد من المسلمين السنة في جميع أنحاء العالم ؛ بما في ذلك المعتدلين. وبصراحة لا يمكن إلقاء اللوم عليهم كثيرا. بعد كل شيء ، فإن العديد من قادة ومقاتلي داعش العراقيين كانوا في السابق من أفراد الجيش العراقي في عهد صدام. لقد ابتعد كثير منهم عن “الديكتاتور” على أمل أن يتم “تغيير النظام” للأفضل ، لكنهم انضموا لداعش يسبب حالة الفوضى التي أحدثها الغزو الأمريكي.

قبل أن تظهر داعش وجهها القبيح ، ربما اعتقد المسلمون المعتدلون أن هذه القوة الجديدة الخارجة من بلاد ما بين النهرين ، والتي لا تعترف بالحدود التي رسمها المستعمرون الغربيون بين الشام (سوريا) والعراق ، هي القوة التي تستطيع توحيد المسلمين، والتي يجب دعمها .

ومن المفارقات، أن معظم هؤلاء المسلمين عندما ينظرون اليوم إلى الوراء، إما ينسون أو يودون أن ينسوا أنهم في مرحلة ما، في أعماق قلوبهم، أيدوا داعش ، وإن كانوا لا يعرفون تمامًا معنى ذلك.

هذا الدعم الخفي والسري لداعش من قبل بعض التيار السني العالمي هو الذي أعطى داعش أرضية خصبة لجذب المجندين وكان ذلك هو السبب الرئيسي للقلق.

إذا كان أي شخص يبحث عن أدلة تدعم هذه المقولة، فلن يحتاج الا إلى أبعد النظر في الهجمات الإرهابية في الاتحاد الأوروبي (وخاصة فرنسا) والمملكة المتحدة.

في الهجوم المروع الذي وقع يوم الباستيل في نيس في صيف عام 2016 ، أثبت مرتكب الجريمة أنه لا يحتاج إلى سلاح ليقتل. كان سلاحه شاحنة ، ولم يكن بحاجة لشرائها. فقد استأجرها.

وبعد هذا الهجوم المشين وما تلاه ، توقعت من بين أشياء كثيرة أخرى حدوث المزيد من هذه الأحداث ، التي استمرت لفترة، ثم توقفت فجأة.

لماذا ا؟ هذا هو السؤال.

لتتمكن داعش من الحفاظ على دعم بيئتها الحاضنة المتنامية ، كانت تحتاج إلى كسب قلوب وعقول المسلمين. وللقيام بذلك ، كان من الضروري تسجيل الانتصارات لإحياء حنين المسلمين للخلافة.

في البداية ، تفاخرت داعش بانتصاراتها وكان أكبرها الاستيلاء على الموصل. ثاني أكبر مدن العراق. وهكذا أصبحت آذان العديد من المسلمين في جميع أنحاء العالم تستعد وتهيئ نفسها لسماع المزيد. قفز البعض على عربة داعش مباشرة ، لكن الغالبية استعدت وانتظرت للحصول على مزيد من الأدلة على أن داعش بشكل عام ، والبغدادي على وجه الخصوص ، هما الشخصان المناسبان للثقة والمتابعة.

لكن ما أعقب استيلاء داعش على الموصل لم يكن أقل من وصمة عار كشفت عن قبحها الداخلي الحقيقي. وبدلاً من أن تتمكن داعش من الاستفادة من زخم انتصارها الأول ووعدها بتحقيق المزيد من ذلك من خلال ابراز من فضائل الإسلام على الأقل ، حوّلت داعش عجزها عن تحقيق المزيد من الانتصارات العسكرية إلى حمام دم ونهب وسوق للاسعباد الجنسي.

قبل مضي وقت طويل ، حتى ابتعد بعض أكثر المؤيدين الإسلاميين المتحمسين لداعش عنها ، ثم تحولوا  ضدها ، لدرجة أنهم الآن نسوا أو أنكروا أنهم أيدوا ذات مرة خطواتها الاولى .

 ما يثير الاهتمام هو ان فقدان داعش سيطرتها على عامة المسلمين السنة لم ينعكس على عملية الانتقال من  العلمانية إلى الإسلام لم يتغير في العالم الإسلامي. فعدد يرتدي عدد الفتيات المسلمات المحجبات يزداد

وما يثير الاهتمام هو أن تعريف “المسلم الحقيقي” يتغير ويتغير بسرعة. وبينما لا يزال ارتداء الحجاب وكل ما يأتي معه في تزايد ، يبدو أن هناك اتجاهًا متزايدًا في العالم الإسلامي نحو الاعتدال.

يبدو أن أساسيات مذهب داعش الأسود والأبيض أصبحت أكثر تسامحًا مع بعض ظلال الرمادي. حتى بعض الأصدقاء الشخصيين على وأصدقاء الأصدقاء قاموا بتلوين صورهم وهم يؤدون رحلة الحج في مكة المكرمة ،و لا يبدو أنهم لا يرغبون في نشر صور أخرى تحمل علامة هاينكن. بالنسبة لشخص من خارج الديانة الإسلامية ، قد لا يبدو هذا أمرًا كبيرًا ، لكنه في الواقع كذلك.

كل هذا يبدو جيدا ، ولكن ما حدث هنا حقا؟

بالتأكيد فقد فشلت مؤامرة داعش لحسن الحظ بالنسبة للعالم ، وبغض النظر عمن يكون / كان “وراء” تنظيم “داعش” ، كان المسلمين خاصة الشباب قاعدة التجنيد؛ فقدت داعش القدرة على جذب المزيد من المجندين والمتحمسين الذين نذروا أفعالهم وحياتهم للبغدادي دون الحاجة حتى إلى أن يكونوا أعضاء رسميين ، وأصبحت  داعش كمنظمة واسم الآن قوة مستهلكة ، وأتجرأ على القول، صورة من الماضي

لكن هذا لا يعني أن المجتمع المسلم “قام بتحصين” نفسه ضد المنظمات وجداول الأعمال المحتملة الجديدة المشابهة لداعش.

كان من الممكن أن يكون الصعود الأول لداعش هو  بقايا حنين لنظام معتقد معين لم يرغب الكثير من المسلمين حتى في دراسته بشكل صحيح لمعرفة ما إذا كان يتوافق حقًا مع تعاليم الإسلام وجميع الأديان الأخرى. لكن سقوط داعش يبشر بعهد جديد لم يسبق له مثيل في العقل الإسلامي ، وهذا يستدعي تفاؤلًا كبيرًا.

ربما لأول مرة في تاريخ الإسلام منذ نشأته ، بدأ المسلمون الآن في دراسة بعض التعاليم التي ورثوها. حتى في المملكة العربية السعودية وولي العهد السعودي الأمير محمد بن سلمان  يبدو أنهما سئموا من القواعد والعقائد القديمة التي تسمح بهذا وتحظر ذلك ؛ بدون أي أساس على الإطلاق.

لم أكن من عشاق محمد بن سلمان، ولكني كنت أعيش في المملكة العربية السعودية لفترة من الوقت ، وكنت أظن دائمًا أن هذا البلد لن يسمح أبدًا للنساء بقيادة السيارات، لكن هذا حدث وهو خطوة كبيرة في الاتجاه الصحيح و خطوة كبيرة نحو الإصلاح يجب ان لا تنسينا الإبادة الجماعية التي تقوم بها السعودية في اليمن بالطبع.

في المملكة العربية السعودية ، هناك أيضًا دعوة لإعادة النظر في الحديث (الكلمة المنطوقة للنبي محمد) في محاولة لتحديد التعاليم المنسوبة للنبي التي تروج للعنف والتي تتعارض مع االقرآن واعتبارها احاديث منحولة تم حقنها من قبل الآخرين لتبرير اجندات سياسية. مثل هذه المبادرة لم تكن ممكنة على الإطلاق قبل بضع سنوات.

هل هذا يعني أننا نشهد نهاية للعنف الإسلامي القائم على الأصولية؟ نأمل أن نكون ، لكن الإجابة الحقيقية على هذا السؤال هي برسم المجتمع المسلم بأسره.

والحقيقة هي أن داعش يقد هزمت ولكن الأيديولوجية الكامنة ورائها ما زالت مستمرة.

من المأمول أن يتذكر  المسلمون أفعال داعش إلى الأبد وأن يلفظوا إرث تنظيم الدولة الإسلامية وأحلامها الأصولية المتمثلة في الفتح والسيطرة على العالم ، من المأمول أن يتطلعوا إلى عالم جديد مفتوح لجميع الأديان والمذاهب.

أنا من أشد المؤمنين أن الله خلق الإنسان على صورته ، وجزء من هذه الصورة هو الخير ومحبة الخير ؛ والمسلمون جزء من هذا الخلق. بعد كل شيء ، المسلمون ، جميع المسلمين يؤمنون بالحديث الذي يقول:  “خير ا النَّاس انفعهم ” للنَّاس

ربما تكون روسيا وسوريا قد ربحت الحرب العسكرية على داعش ، ولكن المسلمين هم الذين فازوا في المعركة الروحية. المسلمون: 1 ، داعش: 0.

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AL-QUDS BRIGADES REVEAL FIRST EVER VIDEO SHOWING DRONE ATTACK ON ISRAELI TANK, APC

South Front

30.05.2019

For the first time ever, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad Movement, the al-Quds Brigades, released a video showing its fighters targeting Israeli military vehicles around the Palestinian Gaza Strip with an armed drone.

The video, which was first broadcasted by the Lebanese al-Mayadeen TV in the noon of May 30, shows an armed drone targeting a Merkava IV main battle tank and an Achzarit armored personnel carrier (APC) of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). The attack occurred during the recent Gaza–Israel clashes.

“Your fortresses don’t stand before us,” a message in Arabic and Hebrew in the video reads.

The drone used in the attack appears to be a small-size quadcopter, similar to the famous DJI Phantom. The drone dropped small projectiles, similar to submunitions usually used in cluster rockets and bombs.

Al-Quds Brigades Reveal First Ever Video Showing Drone Attack On Israeli Tank, APC
Click to see full-size image

ISIS was the first to arm commercially bought drones and use them in combat. The battle of Mosul in Iraq witnessed an extensive use of such drones with the Iraqi military losing several vehicles to drone attacks.

While the terrorist group was the first to use armed drones, Hezbollah was the first to arm them with submunitions. In late 2016, the Lebanese armed group attacked several militants’ positions near the city of Aleppo with drones armed with Chinese-made MZD2 submunitions.

Al-Quds Brigades Reveal First Ever Video Showing Drone Attack On Israeli Tank, APCClick to see full-size image

The accuracy of the armed drone used by the al-Quds Brigades appears to be poor. However, the acquisition of such weapon remains a threat to the Israeli military, especially that it can be improved.

More on the topic:

When it comes to killing civilians who needs the ISIS terrorists when you’ve got the USA?

US Coalition Killed Nearly 12 Times More Civilians in Mosul than did ISIS

By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | May 17, 2018

WASHINGTON – Just a few months after the U.S. declared ISIS in Iraq “defeated,” a new study has concluded that the U.S.-led battle to remove Daesh (ISIS) from Mosul, once Iraq’s second-largest city, ultimately killed nearly 12 times the number of civilians than were killed by the infamous terror group.

The study, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, surveyed 1,200 households in Mosul for cases of civilian deaths by intentional violence since Daesh first occupied the city in 2014. The leading causes of reported deaths were found to have been direct results of the U.S.-led coalition battle to remove Daesh, with airstrikes accounting for around 40 percent of all reported civilian deaths and explosions accounting for another 34 percent.

Together, deaths attributable to the coalition accounted for 373 of the 505 total deaths reported. In contrast, the study found that only 22 civilian deaths, accounting for those killed by beheadings and gunshot wounds, were attributable to Daesh.

While only around 500 civilian deaths were reported by the households surveyed, the study’s authors noted that these figures are likely an underestimate — citing a high probability of survivor bias, the concentration of air strikes in the western part of the city, and the fact that many Mosul civilians had fled the city prior to the survey.

Beyond the imbalance in civilian death tolls caused by the U.S. coalition and Daesh, Gilbert Burnham of Johns Hopkins University, the study’s lead author, pointed out that another key conclusion was the inaccuracy of the coalition airstrikes, which had long been advertised domestically as highly precise, and the coalition’s extensive use of “scorched earth” warfare.

Burnham told The Telegraph:

The high-velocity, high-explosive weapons have a huge range and using these weapons in tightly packed urban areas is a major risk. You might be targeting snipers or a group of [Daesh] fighters but if they’re closely surrounded by large numbers of civilians you can expect substantial casualties.”

He added:

There’s always collateral damage and that’s recognized in the Geneva Convention and in warfare. But the more powerful the weapons become, the larger the area of potential collateral damage. That raises a whole question of proportionality.”

Indeed, much of Mosul still remains reduced to rubble, with an unknown number of bodies still hidden under collapsed buildings and debris. Just last month, the bodies of 22 children were pulled from a pile of rubble in the western part of the city, the area most heavily targeted by coalition strikes.

Humanitarian concerns or war crimes?

Though the findings of this study are troubling, it is hardly the first to examine the deaths of civilians during the U.S.-led operation to “liberate” the city of Mosul. A previous report, published by the United Nations in November of last year, found that the coalition was responsible for the deaths of one in four civilians, with an estimated 2,521 civilians killed and 1,673 wounded during the military operation.

While it found the U.S.-led coalition to be responsible for fewer deaths than this more recent study, the UN report raised similar concerns about the coalition’s use of “imprecise, explosive weapons, killing thousands of civilians,” further suggesting that the coalition’s bombing tactics “may constitute [a] war crime.” Such concerns about war crimes have also been raised by human-rights groups, such as Amnesty International, which has criticized the coalition’s use of unnecessary force and practice of indiscriminately targeting civilians.

Despite concern over the coalition’s bombing tactics and the resulting civilian casualties, the Pentagon has long been dismissive of such concerns, shifting from denial to defiance over the high death toll. For instance, in responding to criticism over a single strike that killed hundreds of civilians in Mosul, the Pentagon cited video footage of Daesh forcing hundreds of civilians into the buildings the U.S. later bombed as “provoking the attack” — essentially admitting that the U.S. knew those buildings were full of civilians but chose to bomb the location anyway.

Aside from likely U.S. complicity in war crimes that led to the deaths of scores of civilians in Mosul, the U.S.-led coalition has also admitted to using white phosphorus, a chemical weapon, during the battle for Mosul. In June of last year, U.S.-led coalition member New Zealand’s Brig. Gen. Hugh McAslan told NPR that “we have utilized white phosphorous to screen areas within West Mosul to get civilians out safely.”

Though the chemical weapon is authorized for use to illuminate targets and create smokescreens, its use is not authorized to do so near civilian populations, particularly dense urban centers like Mosul. Furthermore, video footage showing white phosphorus bombs in the center of the Mosul suggest that the chemical was not being used a “smokescreen” to help shield escaping civilians from view but was rather part of the coalition’s bombing strategy.

 

In addition, despite all the carnage the U.S. coalition brought on Mosul in its bid to drive out Daesh, Daesh militants are still present in the city, suggesting that the “defeat” of Daesh in Mosul was not quite what it was made out to be. On Sunday, three Daesh militants were caught in Mosul, followed by two more who were arrested yesterday.

While Mosul is certainly better off under the control of the Iraqi government as opposed to foreign-funded terrorist groups, this latest study adds more evidence to the charge that the U.S.-led coalition’s actions in Mosul were hardly grounded in the humanitarian concern that the U.S. government so frequently invokes when justifying the use of its military abroad.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

Mashaan AlJabouri: On Iraqi Elections

“We Don’t Do Body Counts”: The Iraq Death Toll, 2.4 MILLION, 15 Years After the US Invasion

Source

By Medea Benjamin

Numbers are numbing, especially numbers that rise into the millions. But please remember that each person killed represents someone’s loved one.

March 19 marks 15 years since the U.S.-U.K invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the American people have no idea of the enormity of the calamity the invasion unleashed. The US military has refused to keep a tally of Iraqi deaths. General Tommy Franks, the man in charge of the initial invasion, bluntly told reporters, “We don’t do body counts.” One survey found that most Americans thought Iraqi deaths were in the tens of thousands. But our calculations, using the best information available, show a catastrophic estimate of 2.4 million Iraqi deaths since the 2003 invasion.

The number of Iraqi casualties is not just a historical dispute, because the killing is still going on today. Since several major cities in Iraq and Syria fell to Islamic State in 2014, the U.S. has led the heaviest bombing campaign since the American War in Vietnam, dropping 105,000 bombs and missiles and reducing most of Mosul and other contested Iraqi and Syrian cities to rubble.

An Iraqi Kurdish intelligence report estimated that at least 40,000 civilians were killed in the bombardment of Mosul alone, with many more bodies still buried in the rubble.  A recent project to remove rubble and recover bodies in just one neighborhood found 3,353 more bodies, of whom only 20% were identified as ISIS fighters and 80% as civilians. Another 11,000 people in Mosul are still reported missing by their families.

Of the countries where the U.S. and its allies have been waging war since 2001, Iraq is the only one where epidemiologists have actually conducted comprehensive mortality studies based on the best practices that they have developed in war zones such as Angola, Bosnia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda. In all these countries, as in Iraq, the results of comprehensive epidemiological studies revealed 5 to 20 times more deaths than previously published figures based on “passive” reporting by journalists, NGOs or governments.

Two such reports on Iraq came out in the prestigious The Lancet medical journal, first in 2004 and then in 2006. The 2006 study estimated that about 600,000 Iraqis were killed in the first 40 months of war and occupation in Iraq, along with 54,000 non-violent but still war-related deaths.

The US and UK governments dismissed the report, saying that the methodology was not credible and that the numbers were hugely exaggerated. In countries where Western military forces have not been involved, however, similar studies have been accepted and widely cited without question or controversy. Based on advice from their scientific advisers, British government officials privately admitted that the 2006 Lancet report was “likely to be right,” but precisely because of its legal and political implications, the U.S. and British governments led a cynical campaign to discredit it.

A 2015 report by Physicians for Social Responsibility, Body Count: Casualty Figures After 10 Years of the ‘War on Terror,” found the 2006 Lancet study more reliable than other mortality studies conducted in Iraq, citing its robust study design, the experience and independence of the research team, the short time elapsed since the deaths it documented and its consistency with other measures of violence in occupied Iraq.

The Lancet study was conducted over 11 years ago, after only 40 months of war and occupation. Tragically, that was nowhere near the end of the deadly consequences of the Iraq invasion.

In June 2007, a British polling firm, Opinion Research Business (ORB), conducted a further study and estimated that 1,033,000 Iraqis had been killed by then.

While the figure of a million people killed was shocking, the Lancet study had documented steadily increasing violence in occupied Iraq between 2003 and 2006, with 328,000 deaths in the final year it covered. ORB’s finding that another 430,000 Iraqis were killed in the following year was consistent with other evidence of escalating violence through late 2006 and early 2007.

Just Foreign Policy’s “Iraqi Death Estimator” updated the Lancet study’s estimate by multiplying passively reported deaths compiled by British NGO Iraq Body Count by the same ratio found in 2006. This project was discontinued in September 2011, with its estimate of Iraqi deaths standing at 1.45 million.

Taking ORB’s estimate of 1.033 million killed by June 2007, then applying a variation of Just Foreign Policy’s methodology from July 2007 to the present using revised figures from Iraq Body Count, we estimate that 2.4 million Iraqis have been killed since 2003 as a result of our country’s illegal invasion, with a minimum of 1.5 million and a maximum of 3.4 million.

These calculations cannot possibly be as accurate or reliable as a rigorous up-to-date mortality study, which is urgently needed in Iraq and in each of the countries afflicted by war since 2001.  But in our judgment, it is important to make the most accurate estimate we can.

Numbers are numbing, especially numbers that rise into the millions. Please remember that each person killed represents someone’s loved one. These are mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, sons, daughters. One death impacts an entire community; collectively, they impact  an entire nation.

As we begin the 16th year of the Iraq war, the American public must come to terms with the scale of the violence and chaos we have unleashed in Iraq. Only then may we find the political will to bring this horrific cycle of violence to an end, to replace war with diplomacy and hostility with friendship, as we have begun to do with Iran and as the people of North and South Korea are trying to do to avoid meeting a similar fate to that of Iraq.

*

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace, is the author of the new book, Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection. Her previous books include: Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote ControlDon’t Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart, and (with Jodie Evans) Stop the Next War Now (Inner Ocean Action Guide). Follow her on Twitter: @medeabenjamin

Nicolas J S Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq and of the chapter on “Obama At War” in Grading the 44th President: A Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.

Featured image is from Oxfam International.

Estimate that 2.4 million Iraqis have been killed since 2003 as a result of U.S./UK illegal invasion

The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the U.S. Invasion

Friends and relatives grieve over the death of their loved ones during a funeral in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2006. (Khalid Mohammed / AP)

March 19 marks 15 years since the U.S.-U.K invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the American people have no idea of the enormity of the calamity the invasion unleashed. The U.S. military has refused to keep a tally of Iraqi deaths. General Tommy Franks, the man in charge of the initial invasion, bluntly told reporters, “We don’t do body counts.” One survey found that most Americans thought Iraqi deaths were in the tens of thousands. But our calculations, using the best information available, show a catastrophic estimate of 2.4 million Iraqi deaths since the 2003 invasion.

The number of Iraqi casualties is not just a historical dispute, because the killing is still going on today. Since several major cities in Iraq and Syria fell to Islamic State in 2014, the U.S. has led the heaviest bombing campaign since the American War in Vietnam, dropping 105,000 bombs and missiles and reducing most of Mosul and other contested Iraqi and Syrian cities to rubble.

An Iraqi Kurdish intelligence report estimated that at least 40,000 civilians were killed in the bombardment of Mosul alone, with many more bodies still buried in the rubble. A recent project to remove rubble and recover bodies in just one neighborhood found 3,353 more bodies, of whom only 20 percent were identified as ISIS fighters and 80 percent as civilians. Another 11,000 people in Mosul are still reported missing by their families.

Of the countries where the U.S. and its allies have been waging war since 2001, Iraq is the only one where epidemiologists have actually conducted comprehensive mortality studies based on the best practices that they have developed in war zones such as Angola, Bosnia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda. In all these countries, as in Iraq, the results of comprehensive epidemiological studies revealed 5 to 20 times more deaths than previously published figures based on “passive” reporting by journalists, NGOs or governments.

Two such reports on Iraq came out in the prestigious The Lancet medical journal, first in 2004 and then in 2006. The 2006 study estimated that about 600,000 Iraqis were killed in the first 40 months of war and occupation in Iraq, along with 54,000 nonviolent but still war-related deaths.

The U.S. and U.K. governments dismissed the report, saying that the methodology was not credible and that the numbers were hugely exaggerated. In countries where Western military forces have not been involved, however, similar studies have been accepted and widely cited without question or controversy. Based on advice from their scientific advisers, British government officials privately admitted that the 2006 Lancet report was “likely to be right,” but precisely because of its legal and political implications, the U.S. and British governments led a cynical campaign to discredit it.

A 2015 report by Physicians for Social Responsibility, Body Count: Casualty Figures After 10 Years of the “War on Terror”, found the 2006 Lancet study more reliable than other mortality studies conducted in Iraq, citing its robust study design, the experience and independence of the research team, the short time elapsed since the deaths it documented and its consistency with other measures of violence in occupied Iraq.

The Lancet study was conducted over 11 years ago, after only 40 months of war and occupation. Tragically, that was nowhere near the end of the deadly consequences of the Iraq invasion.

In June 2007, a British polling firm, Opinion Research Business (ORB), conducted a further study and estimated that 1,033,000 Iraqis had been killed by then.

While the figure of a million people killed was shocking, the Lancet study had documented steadily increasing violence in occupied Iraq between 2003 and 2006, with 328,000 deaths in the final year it covered. ORB’s finding that another 430,000 Iraqis were killed in the following year was consistent with other evidence of escalating violence through late 2006 and early 2007.

Just Foreign Policy’s “Iraqi Death Estimator” updated the Lancet study’s estimate by multiplying passively reported deaths compiled by British NGO Iraq Body Count by the same ratio found in 2006. This project was discontinued in September 2011, with its estimate of Iraqi deaths standing at 1.45 million.

Taking ORB’s estimate of 1.033 million killed by June 2007, then applying a variation of Just Foreign Policy’s methodology from July 2007 to the present using revised figures from Iraq Body Count, we estimate that 2.4 million Iraqis have been killed since 2003 as a result of our country’s illegal invasion, with a minimum of 1.5 million and a maximum of 3.4 million.

These calculations cannot possibly be as accurate or reliable as a rigorous up-to-date mortality study, which is urgently needed in Iraq and in each of the countries afflicted by war since 2001. But in our judgment, it is important to make the most accurate estimate we can.

Numbers are numbing, especially numbers that rise into the millions. Please remember that each person killed represents someone’s loved one. These are mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, sons, daughters. One death impacts an entire community; collectively, they impact  an entire nation.

As we begin the 16th year of the Iraq war, the American public must come to terms with the scale of the violence and chaos we have unleashed in Iraq. Only then may we find the political will to bring this horrific cycle of violence to an end, to replace war with diplomacy and hostility with friendship, as we have begun to do with Iran and as the people of North and South Korea are trying to do to avoid meeting a similar fate to that of Iraq.

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of Code Pink for Peace, and author of several books, including “Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection.” Nicolas J. S. Davies is a writer for Consortiumnews and a researcher with Code Pink, and the author of “Blood On Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.”

Live from Baghdad: the secret of Iraq’s renaissance

November 14, 2017

by Pepe Escobar of the Asia Times (cross-posted by special agreement with the author)

BAGHDAD – On a sandstorm-swept morning in Baghdad earlier last week, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, the legendary deputy leader of Hashd al-Shaabi, a.k.a. People Mobilization Units (PMUs) and the actual mastermind of numerous ground battles against ISIS/Daesh, met a small number of independent foreign journalists and analysts.

This was a game-changing moment in more ways than one. It was the first detailed interview granted by Mohandes since the fatwa issued by Grand Ayatollah Sistani – the immensely respected marja (source of emulation) and top clerical authority in Iraq – in June 2014, when Daesh stormed across the border from Syria. The fatwa, loosely translated, reads, “It is upon every Iraqi capable of carrying guns to volunteer with the Iraqi Armed Forces to defend the sanctities of the nation.”

Mohandes took time out of the battlefield especially for the meeting, and then left straight for al-Qaim. He was sure “al-Qaim will be taken in a matter of days” – a reference to the crucial Daesh-held Iraqi border town connecting to Daesh stronghold Abu Kamal in Syria.

That’s exactly what happened only four days later; Iraqi forces immediately started a mop up operation and prepared to meet advancing Syrian forces at the border – yet more evidence that the recomposition of the territorial integrity of both Iraq and Syria is a (fast) work in progress.

The meeting with Mohandes was held in a compound inside the massively fortified Green Zone – an American-concocted bubble kept totally insulated from ultra-volatile red zone Baghdad with multiple checkpoints and sniffer dogs manned by US contractors.

Adding to the drama, the US State Department describes Mohandes as a “terrorist”. That amounts in practice to criminalizing the Iraqi government in Baghdad – which duly released an official statement furiously refuting the characterization.

The PMUs are an official body with tens of thousands of volunteers linked to the office of the Commander in Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces. The Iraqi Parliament fully legalized the PMUs in November 2016 via resolution 91 (item number 4, for instance, states that “the PMU and its affiliates are subject to military regulations that are enforced from all angles.”)

Its 25 combat brigades – comprising Shi’ites, Sunnis, Christians, Yazidis, Turkmen, Shabak and Kurds – have been absolutely crucial in the fight against Daesh in Samarra, Amerli, Jalawla, Balad, Salahuddin, Fallujah (35 different battles), Shirqat and Mosul (especially over the western axis from Qayarah base to the Iraq-Syrian border, cutting off supply chains and sealing Mosul from an attempted Daesh escape to Syria).

Retaking Kirkuk “in a matter of hours”

Mohandes describes the PMUs as “an official military force” which plays a “complementary role” to the Iraqi Army. The initial plan was for the PMUs to become a national guard – which in fact they are now; “We have recon drones and engineering units that the Army does not have. We don’t mind if we are called gendarmes.” He’s proud the PMUs are fighting an “unconventional war”, holding the high ground “militarily and morally” with “victories achieved in record time”. And “contrary to Syria”, with no direct Russian support.

Mohandes is clear that Iran was the only nation supporting Iraq’s fight against Daesh. Iraq reciprocated by helping Syria, “facilitating over flights by Iranian planes.” With no Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between Washington and Baghdad, “the Americans withdrew companies that maintain Abrams tanks.” In 2014

“we didn’t even have AK-47s. Iran gave them to us. The US embassy had 12 Apache helicopters ready to transport diplomats if Baghdad fell to Daesh”.

One year later, “Baghdad would have been occupied” were not for the PMUs; “It’s like you’re in a hospital and you need blood. The Americans would show up with the transfusion when it was too late.” He is adamant “the US did not provide a single bullet” in the overall fight against Daesh. And yet, Mohandes clarifies that the “US may stay in Iraq should the Iraqi government decide it. My personal opinion is well known.”

Mohandes considers the [Western] “media war waged against Hashd al-Shaabi” as “normal from the beginning”; “Countries that supported terrorism would not perceive that a popular force would emerge, and did not recognize the new political system in Iraq.” On that note, he added ruefully, “you can smell petrol”.

Mohandes was personally wounded in Halabja and also in Anfal – Saddam Hussein’s anti-Kurdish operations. He was “pleased to see Kurdistan saved after 1991”; stresses “we had martyrs who fell in Kurdistan defending them”; and considers himself a friend of the Kurds, keeping good relations with their leaders. Iranian advisors, alongside the Iraqi Army and the PMUs, also “prevented Daesh from conquering Erbil.”

Yet after a “unilateral referendum, Iraq had to assert the authority of the state”. Retaking Kirkuk – largely a PMU operation – was “a matter of hours”; the PMUs “avoided fighting and stayed only in the outskirts of Kirkuk”. Mohandes previously discussed operational details with the Peshmerga, and there was full coordination with both Iran and Turkey; “It’s a misconception that Kurdish leaders could rely on Turkey.”

Fallujah, finally secured

The PMUs absolutely insist on their protection of ethnic minorities, referring to thousands of Sabak, Yazidi and Turkmen – among at least 120,000 families – forced by Daesh rule into becoming IDPs. After liberation battles were won, the PMUs provided these families with food, clothing, toys, generators and fuel. I confirmed that many of these donations came from families of PMU fighters all across the country. PMU priorities include combat engineering teams bringing families back to their areas after clearing mines and explosives, and then reopening hospitals and schools. For instance, 67,000 families were resettled into their homes in Salahuddin and 35,000 families in Diyala.

Mohandes stresses that, “in the fight against Daesh in Salahuddin and Hawija, the brigade commanders were Sunnis”. The PMUs feature a Christian Babylon brigade, a Yazidi brigade, and a Turkmen brigade; “When Yazidis were under siege in Sinjar we freed at least 300,000 people.”

Overall, the PMUs include over 20,000 Sunni fighters. Compare it with the fact that 50 per cent of Daesh’s suicide bombers in Iraq have been Saudi nationals. I confirmed with Sheikh Muhammad al-Nouri, leader of the Sunni scholars in Fallujah, “this is an ideological battle against Wahhabi ideology. We need to get away from the Wahhabi school and redirect our knowledge to other Sunni schools.” He explained how that worked on the ground in Haditha (“we were able to control mosques”) and motivated people in Fallujah, 30 minutes away; “Fallujah is an Iraqi city. We believe in coexistence.”

After 14 years in which Fallujah was not secure, and with the Haditha experience fast expanding, Sheikh Muhammad is convinced “Iraq will declare a different war on terror.”

The inclusive approach was also confirmed by Yezen Meshaan al-Jebouri, the head of the Salahuddin PMU brigade. This is crucial because he’s a member of the very prominent Sunni Jebouri family, which was historically inimical to Saddam Hussein; his father is the current governor of Tikrit. Al-Jebouri decries “the state corruption in Sunni regions”, an “impression of injustice” and the fact that for Daesh, “Sunnis who did not follow them should also be killed.” He’s worried about “the Saudi accumulation of developed weapons. Who guarantees these won’t be used against the region?” And he refuses the notion that “we are looked upon by the West as part of the Iranian project.”

Military victory meets political victory

Far from the stereotyped “terrorist”, Mohandes is disarmingly smart, witty and candid. And a full-blooded Iraqi patriot; “Iraq now reinstates its position because of the blood of its sons. We needed to have a military force capable of fighting an internal threat. We are accomplishing a religious national and humanitarian duty.” Soldiers apart, thousands of extra PMU volunteers do not receive salaries. Members of Parliament and even Ministers were active in the battlefield. Mohandes is proud that “we have a chain of command just like the army”; that the PMUs harbor “thousands of people with college degrees”; that they run “dozens of field hospitals, intensive care units” and have “the strongest intel body in Iraq.”

In Baghdad, I personally confirmed the narrative accusing the PMUs of being Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s private army is nonsense. If that was the case, Grand Ayatollah Sistani should take the blame, as he conceptually is the father of the PMUs. Hadi al-Amiri, the secretary-general of the powerful Badr organization, also extremely active in the fight against Daesh, stressed to me the PMUs are “part of the security system, integrated with the Ministry of Defense”. But now “we need universities and emphasis on education.”

Pakistani Prof. Hassan Abbas, from the College of International Security Affairs at the National Defense University in Washington, went even further, as we extensively discussed not only Iraq and Syria but also Afghanistan and Pakistan; “Iraq is now in a unique position heading towards a democratic, pluralistic society”, proving that “the best answer to sectarianism is religious harmony.” This “inclusiveness against Takfirism” must now connect in the streets “with the rule of law and a fair justice system”. Abbas points out that the base for Iraq to build up is law enforcement via scientific investigation; “Policing is the first line of defense”.

Baghdad has been able, almost simultaneously, to pull off two major game-changers; a military victory in Mosul and a political victory in Kirkuk. If Iraq stabilizes, erasing the Daesh death cult, so will Syria. As al-Jebouri notes, “now every community must have a cut of the cake.” At least 7 million jobs and pensions are paid by Baghdad. People want the return of regularly paid salaries. That starts with decent security all over the country. Mohandes was the engineer – his actual profession – of key battles against Daesh. There’s a wide consensus in Baghdad that without him Daesh would be firmly installed in the Green Zone.

Hashd al-Shaabi is already an Iraqi pop phenomenon, reflected in this huge hit by superstar Ali al-Delfi. From pop to politics is another matter entirely. Mohandes is adamant the PMUs won’t get involved in politics, “and directly won’t contest elections. If someone does, and many individuals are now very popular, they have to leave Hashd.”

From hybrid warfare to national renewal

After days talking to Hashd al-Shaabi personnel and observing how they operate a complex hybrid warfare battlefield coupled with an active recruitment process and heavy presence in social media, it’s clear the PMUs are now firmly established as a backbone underpinning Iraqi state security, an array of stabilization programs – including much needed medical services – and most of all, introducing a measure of efficiency Iraq was totally unfamiliar for almost three decades.

It’s a sort of state-building mechanism springing out of a resistance ethic. As if the ominous Daesh threat, which may have led to as many as 3.1 million IDPs, shook up the collective Iraqi subconscious, awakened the Iraqi Shi’ite proletariat/disenfranchised masses, and accelerated cultural decolonization. And this complex development couldn’t be further from religious bigotry.

Amid Wilsonian eulogies and references to the Marshall Plan, Foreign Minister Ebrahim al-Jaafari is also a staunch defender of the PMUs, stressing it as “an experiment to be studied”, a “new phenomenon with a humane basis operating on a legal framework”, and “able to break the siege of solitude Iraq has suffered for years.”

Referring to the Daesh offensive, Jaafari insisted “Iraq did not commit a crime” in the first place, but hopefully there’s “a new generation of youth capable of reinforcing the experiment”. The emphasis now, following reconciliation, is on “an era of national participation”. He’s adamant that “families of Daesh members should not pay for their mistakes.” Daesh informers will be duly put on trial.

I asked the Foreign Minister if Baghdad did not fear being caught in a lethal crossfire between Washington and Tehran. His response was carefully measured. He said he had enough experience of dealing with “radical” neocons in D.C. And at the same time he was fully aware of the role of the PMUs as well as Iran in Iraq’s reassertion of sovereignty. His warm smile highlighted the conviction that out of the ashes of a cultish black death, the Iraqi renaissance was fully in effect.

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