ISIS never disappeared from Iraq

ISIS was the child of the reality created by Tehran in alliance with the United States when Iraq was invaded.
Saturday 31/08/2019
Unfinished history. A member of Kurdish Peshmerga military forces takes a selfie next to explosives and items that were used by ISIS militants, at a museum in Erbil. (Reuters)
Unfinished history. A member of Kurdish Peshmerga military forces takes a selfie next to explosives and items that were used by ISIS militants, at a museum in Erbil. (Reuters)

Is there something more revealing of the nature of the Iraqi regime than the Islamic State?

Everybody is saying the Islamic State (ISIS) is “making a comeback.” ISIS had never left in the first place and it was not defeated. The mechanisms responsible for producing it have continued to spin without interruption.

Despite the collapse of ISIS’s self-proclaimed caliphate, no one dared say that a definitive victory was achieved over this organisation. There was no official announcement to that effect and the field commanders could still smell the presence of the enemy even though they did not see it or dared track it.

Wherever ISIS went, there was devastation. That’s hardly surprising and would not have changed anything coming from an organisation whose strategy is based on destruction.

Similarly, as long as there existed militias created and supported by Iran for the purpose of sustaining corruption and desolation, it was only natural that there would be militias that do not find it difficult or fearful to produce devastation everywhere.

The ISIS “production machine” has never ceased operating. All that the war on ISIS did was to destroy some of the “goods” that came out of the production line.

ISIS was the child of the reality created by Tehran in alliance with the United States when Iraq was invaded. It was the natural child of two types of invaders, each with its own goals and interests. They came together to ruin politics, culture and administration in the country and to produce sectarianism, corrupt parties and militias.

ISIS was born from a system based on sectarian discrimination. So, it created new ground for hatred that social relations had never been familiar with before. When ISIS declared one sect to be superior to all others and provided it with money, power and arms, it gave the impetus to other sects to get hold of what they needed to survive, exactly in the same manner as ISIS.

ISIS was born out of a system of unprecedented corruption so it produced empires that plundered tens of billions of dollars. As in all other corrupt regimes, the loot was smuggled out of the country and not injected in the local economy. This money disappeared inside the corrupt system as if sucked into a giant black hole.

The militia system in Iraq was one of the most important elements of ISIS’s survival. The militias’ purpose was not only to weaken the state but to fragment society. Militias became a kind of new identity. Unless you were a member of one of them, or at least under its protection, you would not be able to live in safety.

This reality eliminated the concepts of “homeland” and “citizenship” from the relationship between authorities and members of society.

It was natural for those torn apart by sectarian, tribal and factional allegiances to come together in loyalty to some kind of force, regardless of how culturally degraded it was. It was only natural for that force to commit endless massacres and atrocities.

ISIS was born of the brutality of the sectarian parties that took power in Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of people were arrested, tortured and violated and millions of people were forced to flee and had their property looted. It was easy and natural for those among them who did not or could not escape the tyranny of the sectarian militias to end up bearing arms.

Several years of this tyranny passed before ISIS came into being, such that the appropriate question should have been why it took all this time for it to emerge, rather than why it emerged.

It was only natural for all those who paid a heavy tribute from their honour, their possessions and the lives of their loved ones, to look for a way to take revenge or look for an alternative system. Since the rules of the political game in Iraq did not leave room for alternatives from outside the sectarian framework governed by hateful and corrupt militias, the surprise would have been that something like ISIS did not emerge.

Iran has produced a militia regime in Iraq to allow it to destroy a country that has always been the focus of a deep-seated historical hatred on its part. It wasn’t planning on taking advantage of its dominance over Iraq to provide a model for its own revolutionary project. It was only interested in turning it into rubble and that’s exactly what it got.

For its own reasons, the United States wanted to bomb Iraq back to the Stone Age. So it did all it could to fragment it, tear apart its social fabric and destroy its culture and historical heritage. It enjoyed handing it to a crass political class that combines frivolity, moral decline and intellectual shallowness. The United States wanted a shattered Iraq, so it was only natural for the latter to turn into a quagmire, exuding so much rot befitting of its new nature.

ISIS was nothing but bubbles from that swamp. It was the rightful child of the rotten choices made by Iran and the United States.

Would it be possible to eliminate an organisation produced by such circumstances? ISIS was an unavoidable reaction. It was a decadent answer, or course, but befitting of a degenerate reality that arose before it. So, as long as the former remains, the latter will remain.