…by Brig Asif Haroon Raja, Pakistan
The British Empire during its prime days held sway over almost a quarter of the world. Large numbers of countries in Africa, Asia and Pacific were colonized. The largest empire in the history retained control over its colonies through its cunning policy of divide and rule. It played a key role in dismembering Ottoman Empire and ending system of Caliphate.
Once the British Empire declined after the 2nd World War and process of decolonization began, the US filled up the power vacuum east of Suez and decided to continue with the British policy of divide and rule and to neo-colonize the liberated colonies.
In order to consolidate its hold over oil-rich Middle East, the US helped create Israel in 1948 after dividing Palestine and armed it to teeth to be able to bully the Arab States as well as Palestinians, rendered refugees. Within the Arab world, pro-American dictators and monarchs termed as moderates were backed and anti-American rulers dubbed as radicals were demonized.
Revolutionary leaders were marked for assassination. Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) were provided satellite guidance to trounce united Arab armies in the 1967 war, which enabled Israel to annex West Bank, Gaza Strip and Sinai and thus gain control over whole of Palestine. Satellite technology helped Gen Aerial Sharon to exploit the gap between the 2nd and 3rd Egyptian Armies and cross the Suez Canal in the 1973 War to counterbalance gains made by Egyptian Army across Barlev Line. IDF invaded Lebanon in 1978 and again in 1982 to destroy PLO and kept the southern part under its occupation till 2000.
Henry Kissinger was the architect of Camp David Accord in 1978 which led to signing of Egypt-Israel peace treaty in 1979, which broke the unity of Arab Armies pitched against Israel. Egypt has since then been provided $1.5 billion annual assistance by Washington to keep it on its side. Today, the US is supporting Gen Fattah al-Sisi’s regime in Egypt which ousted democratically elected Morsi’s regime aligned with Hamas and took over power in July 2013.
After taking care of Egypt, Israel started viewing Iraq as the biggest threat to its hegemonic ambition of becoming the uncontested power in the Middle East. Theodore Heizi, the founding father of Zionism, had floated the idea of ‘Greater Israel’, encompassing territories between Rivers Nile and Euphrates. His plan was published in Israeli journal on June 13, 1982.
In reverence to Heizi’s master plan, Odid Yinon chalked out a roadmap of balkanization of Arab States in 1984. It envisaged subdivision of Iraq on ethnic/religious grounds. In his scheme, Iraq was to be fragmented into three States of Kurds in the north, Sunnis in the west and Shias in the southeast. Yinon’s plan also called for breakup of Syria and Lebanon and dissolution of North Africa with focus on fragmentation of Egypt, Sudan and Libya.
In accordance with this sinister plan, Iraq was coaxed to attack Iran in 1980. Purpose was that the two Muslim powers should decimate the military and economic strength of each other. The war was purposely prolonged for eight years by providing intelligence of deployment of opposing troops in Fao Peninsula to both sides at critical stages of the battle and thus disallowing any side to achieve clear-cut victory. The conspirators however failed in their mission since the war made the two combatant armies more robust and battle-inoculated.
While Iran completed its cycle of Islamic revolution, Saddam didn’t lose his charisma among the Iraqis. In the 1980s, John Garang led rebellion in South Sudan was fully supported by the west through Ethiopia to fail Gen Numeri’s Shariah and make Christian/Animist heavy southern province independent.
Drawing inspiration from Yinon’s plan, an eight-member team of neo-cons (Dick Cheney, Richard Pearle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, John Bolton, James Colbert, David Wurmser and his wife Meyrav) hatched a plan in 1990 how to weaken Iraq and topple Saddam regime. After enticing Saddam to invade and occupy Kuwait, the US led western forces funded by Saudi Arabia and Gulf States attacked Iraq in 1991 and gave a crippling blow to its defence and economic structure. This was followed up with harsh economic sanctions.
Failing to invoke internal revolt, Iraq dismemberment plan was rehashed by the same team in 1996 and it was decided that another invasion to overthrow Saddam’s Baathist regime, holding the ethnically diverse country together with an iron hand had become essential. During this period, civil war was triggered in Somalia in 1992, where the situation still remains unstable and anarchic. Intifada by Palestinian teenagers in occupied territories of Israel was defused by signing Oslo Accords in 1993 envisaging two-State solution, which Israel never wanted to implement.
9/11 gave an opportunity to George W. Bush led neo-cons to implement the gory plan of denuclearizing and balkanizing Pakistan, dividing Afghanistan on ethnic lines, capturing the resources of Central Asia, realigning the boundaries of Middle East and Africa, and dominating the world by applying divide and conquer policy. The plan envisaged targeting eight Muslim countries in phases.
All this was to be achieved under the cover of terrorism. Exploiting ethnic polarization, soldiers of non-Pashtun Northern Alliance were used for ground offensive to capture Afghanistan ruled by Sunni Pashtun Taliban in November 2001. India which had been made a strategic partner in 1990 was tasked by USA to deal with Pakistan using covert means from Afghan soil.
After their initial success, the US led forces assisted by Iraqi Shias and Kurds invaded Iraq ruled by Sunni regime of Saddam Hussain and toppled it in May 2003. Well-trained Baathist Army was disbanded in 2003 and in its place Iraqi National Army (INA) was raised and trained for the purpose of conducting counterterrorism only. Over $ 20 billion was spent to train/equip 800,000 strong INA/paramilitary forces, not to fight external enemies but to deal with internal threats. After hanging Saddam to death through a kangaroo court, a new constitution was formulated in 2005, and Nuri al-Maliki led Shia regime empowered in 2006, which persecuted 5-6 million Iraqi Sunnis and gave them a raw deal.
After neutralizing Egypt and emasculating Iraq, Lt Col Ralph Peter published a map in Armed Forces Journal in June 2006 which was an improvement of Yinon’s plan of redrawing the boundaries of Middle East and Africa. In this, kingdom of Saudi Arabia was confined to holy cities of Mecca and Medina only, Herat in Afghanistan was made part of Iran, and Balochistan was shown as an independent State.
Balochistan figured out because of strategic Gawadar Port providing access to Arabian Sea for the envisaged energy corridor emanating from Central Asia. These plans and maps indicated a burning desire of USA to break up the targeted countries along sectarian/ethnic lines so as to overcome Israeli and Indian security concerns, and make them regional powers of Middle East and South Asia respectively.
Iran under pro-US Reza Shah Pahlavi ranked very high in the US security paradigm and was given the status of policeman of the Persian Gulf to guard Strait of Hormuz. Arab-Iran rivalry suited US divide and rule policy and its designs. Happy arrangement ended with the coming to power of Imam Khomeini in March 1979 and the two erstwhile allies became bitter enemies. While Iran described USA as the chief Satan, George Bush made Iran part of axis of evil.
Much to the chagrin of US and Israel, Iran under Ahmadinejad increased its influence in Iraq substantially. Al-Mahdi Army in Iraq was militarily supported by Iran. Iran’s secret weapon program became another upsetting matter for Israel, USA and Gulf States. Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza Strip became the cat paws of Iran-Syria alliance which checkmated Israeli expansionism. Iran-Syria-Hezbollah nexus posed a serious threat to Israel.
A way out had to be worked out to break the burgeoning alliance and also to speed up implementation of Yinon’s plan. For the execution of the plan, the tools of proxy war and propaganda/psychological war were to be employed while sectarianism, ethnicity and religious differences were to be exploited to let the Muslims fight among each other to death. CIA brewed up Syrian Sunnis insurgency in Syria in February 2011 and provided all out support to the rebels to topple Shiite regime led by Basher al-Assad.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordon and Turkey also supported them. Idea was to divide Syria into three States with a Shiite Alawi State along the coastline, a Sunni State in Aleppo region and another Sunni State hostile to the former in Damascus. Fall of Assad would have rendered Iran vulnerable. While the civil war in Syria was raging, CIA fomented an uprising in Libya in 2011. Full support to Libyan rebels allied with al-Qaeda by the NATO helped in bringing down Qaddafi’s regime. In the same year, Sudan was partitioned by making oil rich Christian/animist heavy South Sudan independent.
Unlike the quick and easy regime change in Libya, the US couldn’t depose Assad regime in Syria because of Russian and Iranian support but it did manage to win over Iran. Obama-Rouhani telephonic call in September 2013 followed by P5+1 nuclear interim deal with Iran in November 2013 helped in melting the ice. Syrian civil war has however brought strains in Hamas-Hezbollah relations on account of sectarian differences.
Hamas supports Sunni rebels while Hezbollah supports Assad regime. Situation became complicated after Free Syrian Army, Al-Nusra Front and Al-Qaeda started to fight among each other in northern Syria. Islamic State of Iraq & Levant (ISIL) formed on April 9, 2013 also joined the fray and clashed with al-Nusra wanting to proclaim a new Emirate in Syria.
The security situation took a dramatic turn in the wake of ISIL gaining an edge over other militant groups in Syria by capturing Ar-Raqqa, Idlib and parts of Aleppo Province and then entering Iraq and seizing Fallujah in January 2014. After acquiring training/arms in Jordon in camps established by CIA; seizing territory in Syria and consolidating gains in Fallujah, the ISIL led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi advanced forward like a tornado in first week of June 2014 and conquered five provinces in the northern and western Iraq including second largest city of Mosul and largest oil refinery Baiga within days.
Baghdadi declared himself as the Caliph on June 29 and renamed ISIL as Islamic State (IS), which includes captured territories of Syria and Iraq with Raqqa as its capital. After capturing Tikrit and besieging Arbil, IS then started to knock at the gates of Baghdad.
The US found itself handicapped to come to the rescue of Nuri al-Maliki’s regime since its military was over committed holding military bases all over the globe and 55000 troops pinned down in Afghanistan struggling to move out safely. Ongoing crisis in southeastern Ukraine posed a big challenge to the US and NATO. Besides the US, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are most worried about IS and are contemplating how to deal with the threat. INA which the US had trained and equipped from 2003 to 2011 started to crumble.
The US preferred Iran dealing with it duly assisted by Shias in Iraq and asked it to do so, but the problem was that both the US and Israel view Iran aligned with Iraqi Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army Shias as a bigger threat than Sunni radicals in Iraq. Worried about the security of Shia holy places in Najaf and Karbala which Baghdadi vowed to dynamite, Iran agreed to the US request to augment the strength of Iraqi Shias and also provide arms. Turkey reluctance was because of the Turkish Kurds factor. Saudis were also in two minds because of the Sunni factor.
Hezbollah fighters that are already engaged in Lebanon and Syria’s Shia-Sunni conflict also entered Iraq and Syria to confront IS. Their dispersal and getting killed in various battlefronts went well with Israel. The US jets and drones started striking IS selectively from August 2014 onwards after it killed Christians and Yazidis in Sinjar. Airstrikes were aimed at preventing fall of oil-rich Kirkuk and Arbil, capital of Kurdish region which houses US Consulate.
Pro-force lobbies voiced their concern as to why Washington remained hesitant for so long to send weaponry including drones, and didn’t use airpower against IS to prevent it from capturing large swathes of Iraqi territory? They inquired as to why Obama was unwilling to use force in Iraq when he felt no compunction in using excessive force in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia and even authorized drones against American nationals?
After the beheading of two US journalists and one British at the hands of IS fighters, Obama sought cooperation from ten regional countries to deal with the IS threat. The US and western allies however restricted their support to air strikes only and from September 2014 onwards expanded their scope to Syria as well.
Many analysts in the US and western counties are selling the idea that IS or ISIL is CIA creation and is US backed to break up the Iran-Iraq-Syria-Hezbollah alliance. Mike Whitney, Michel Chossudovsky and several others are among them who say that ISIL aided/guided by USA and funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar mounted direct pressure on Baghdad to force former PM Maliki to quit. Baghdadi is dubbed as US agent trained in Tel Aviv and in Bucca camp in Baghdad. Some say he is a Jew. They say that the Muslims are being conned by a sophisticated scheme drawn up by Zionists to fragment Middle East and pave the way for establishment of ‘Greater Israel’.
While the Muslim world is a house divided, the overall situation in the Middle East is getting grimmer and perplexing with every passing day, which suits the conspirators. The impotence and state of helplessness of the Arab League, OIC and Muslim world could be gauged from its deafening silence over the genocide of Gazans at the hands of Israeli beasts. In the five-week air-sea-ground offensive which commenced on July 8, 2014, Gazans suffered over 2000 fatalities and injuries to 10,000. Two-thirds of fatalities and injuries were of unarmed civilians, mostly women and children.
Greater part of the island, which has remained under Israeli/Egyptian siege since 2006, was reduced to a ruble. Brutal offensive was aimed at breaking the unity between Fatah and Hamas and eliminating Hamas, which has valiantly resisted and failed all the offensives of Israel since 2008. Instead of playing a role to stop the slaughter, Saudi Arabia, Jordon, Gulf Sheikhdoms and Egypt desired riddance of Hamas since they consider it a future threat to their monarchies/military rule.
Bold stance taken by leaders of Latin America on Israeli brutality should have shamed the Arab rulers, but so far they are in deep slumber. Tunnel-vision and luxury loving Arab leaders refuse to admit the existence of Indo-US-UK-Israeli nexus busy weaving a web of intrigues and bent upon further dividing and weakening the Muslim countries and then ruling the resource-rich Middle East like a colony. They consider them to be their friends and well-wishers and are complacent that their turn will not come.
Hezbollah, Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, Syria and Iran challenging Israel are seen by them as foes. Intriguingly, neither any militant group operating in Middle East is poised against Israel or its western backers, nor any Arab country funding dozens of groups to fight Shiasm/terrorism is diverting any group to come to the rescue of besieged people of Gaza. Muslim world has sunk to its lowest levels.
Shifting the periscope from Middle East towards Pakistan, one finds the same nexus feverishly working upon an agenda since 2002 to disable its nuclear program and then fragment it. India is deeply involved in FATA, Baluchistan and Karachi and is also resorting to water terrorism to make Pakistan water scarce. Its repeated assaults and conspiracies have been successfully warded off by the armed forces but at a heavy cost. Pakistan lost 60,000 people in US imposed war on terror and suffered an economic loss of $107 billion.
Operation Zarb-e-Azb launched in June 2014 has succeeded in uprooting terrorist network in North Waziristan and other bases in northwestern tribal belt. Lawlessness in Karachi has to a large extent been controlled and momentum of separatist movement broken. The downward slide in socio-economic has been stemmed and the country is on the road to recovery. Mega projects have been launched and foreign investment has begun to pour in. All economic indicators have started moving from negative to positive.
These developments have improved the stature of Pakistan among the world comity and investment that had dried up has begun to flow in. China has committed $46 billion for the construction of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor connecting Kashgar with Gawadar. It has the potential to change the complexion of Pakistan and also develop the region. Pakistan Army is judged as the best Army in the world to confront the threat of terrorism which has assumed global dimensions after Paris attacks. Pakistan has been made part of 34-State anti-terror coalition formed by Saudi Arabia.
The writer is retired Brig/defence analyst/columnist/historian/war veteran, Director Measac Research Centre, Director Board of Governors Thinkers Forum Pakistan. [email protected]