Who is to blame for the rise of ISIS?

All to often, people claim the reasons behind the growth of the Islamic State, is due to the failure of the Iraqi people to understand or accept the democratic process, which was introduced to Iraq back in 2003. 

But what attitudes as these represent, is a deep immaturity, along with the failure to understand the foundations of ISIS, lie in a variety of factors which began with the 2003 invasion, by both the US and UK. The failure of the US and UK to secure the borders of Iraq upon the initial invasion, allowed for the infiltration into Iraq, of foreign Jihadist elements. Who were able to freely cross the borders and establish bases to operate from. 

Due to the fact Iraqi people speak Arabic and not English or Spanish, both the US and UK armies demonstrated a clear inability to communicate with people on a basic level, which forced them to rely heavily on external translators. Another failure was the US/UK support for the De-Baathification policy, which saw Iraq’s military disbanded along with the civil service. 

This policy saw the exclusion of Iraq’s Sunni community from public office, where guilt was assumed by alleged association, with allegations never needing to be proven in law. This policy also resulted in the post 2003 US/UK Iraqi Army and Police Force, lacking experienced officers, who held an understanding of the political dynamics, which existed prior to the overthrow of Saddam and the changes which occurred after 2003. 

Equally absent in the Army and Police Force, was a lack of experience in both counter terrorism and border security. Due to most of the Iraqi Opposition being based outside of Iraq, the political dynamics the West introduced to Iraq, were those already known to the West from after the first Gulf War. 

The failure of both Britain and America to effectively understand the political changes which occurred after 2003, were highlighted by Rory Stewart, a former deputy governor of two Iraqi provinces. 

In 2013, Stewart stated to Britain’s House of Commons, “Sitting in Iraq for 18 months from the middle of 2003 to 2005, I found myself facing, in a small provincial town called al-Amara, 52 new political parties, many of them swarming across the border from Iran and many of them armed.” 

“Nobody in the Foreign Office or the military, and certainly nobody in the House of Commons, would have been able to distinguish between Hizb-e-Dawa, Harakat-Dawa, Majlis Ahla – or any of the other groups that emerged.” 

Stewart also answered those, who are now trying to place the burden of responsibility of ISIS, upon the shoulders of the Iraqi people: “At the base of the problem is our refusal to acknowledge failure, to acknowledge just what a catastrophe it was, Parliament’s refusal to acknowledge how bewildering it was, how little we know and how complicated countries such as Iraq are.”

by Hussein Al-alak, editor of Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra)

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