The dilemma the U.S. faces in Iraq is a Catch-22 situation. If the U.S. supports the Shia government of al-Maliki to dominate Iraq it will be, in one way or another, help Iran control the country and increase the Iranian influence in the region.
On the other hand, the U.S. cannot support the Sunnis who now are led by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which is one of the most violent and barbaric Islamic groups in human history. The latter has changed its name recently to the Islamic State (IS), which indicates that their operations and ambitions will go beyond these two countries.
Supporting such a group will be a form of insanity as they will certainly turn against the U.S. and its interests. We should not make the same mistake as when we supported the Taliban in Afghanistan and later paid, and still pay, a heavy price for that support.
Ignoring ISIS is not going to abolish their threat to the U.S., especially when we add to the equation that ISIS stole hundreds of millions of dollars from banks in Iraq, now control oil refineries, and have procured chemical weapons. The efficiency of radical Islamic groups in using their money for evil was exemplified on 9/11 when al-Qaida used half a million dollars to conduct an operation that cost us more than a trillion dollars and counting. Such efficiency of the Islamic radicals in using their resources cannot be ignored.
Approaching the Iraq dilemma may require support for the division of the country into three independent countries — Kurds, Sunni, and Shia. The Kurds are already starting to declare their independence and the level of hatred between Sunnis and Shia in the country will impede any process to unite them again under the banner of one country.
This division will create a Sunni area in the middle of Iraq which will work as a buffer zone to impede Iran’s ability to have an easy access to the Mediterranean Sea via Iraq and then via the Shia (Alawites)-controlled Syria.
The newly created Sunni section then will have to either abide by the rules of the international community or face confrontations with all surrounding countries that will not accept the existence of powerful ISIS in their midst.
It also is important to realize that currently these three Sunni factions are united only because they confront a common enemy, which is the Shia-controlled government. Soon after they become independent — as a Sunni part — the tribes and Baath Party remnants will turn against ISIS.
The ideological difference between ISIS and its other Sunni supporters (namely the tribes and the remnants of the Baath party of Saddam Hussein) will guarantee a fight for power and control. In such case, the U.S. should support the latter groups against the more radical ISIS.
The U.S. should not get into direct confrontation with ISIS. A wiser approach is to improve its collaboration with, and support for, the military and intelligence of countries in the region that are already fighting radical Islamic groups. It is in the interest of the U.S. to support such countries in their fight against Islamic radical groups as this support can protect the U.S. from another — probably more destructive — 9/11.
Dr. Tawfik Hamid is the author of "Inside Jihad: Understanding and Confronting Radical Islam." Read more reports from Tawfik Hamid — Click Here Now.
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