Etat islamique: C’est la faute à Bush et aux i-phones ! (ISIS horrors: Blame it all on Bush and… i-phones !)

Irak_wmd1_1

If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow. Some day, some way, I guarantee you, he’ll use the arsenal. President Clinton (February 1998)
[La mission des forces armées américaines et britanniques est d’]attaquer les programmes d’armement nucléaires, chimiques et biologiques de l’Irak et sa capacité militaire à menacer ses voisins (…) On ne peut laisser Saddam Hussein menacer ses voisins ou le monde avec des armements nucléaires, des gaz toxiques, ou des armes biologiques. » (…) Il y a six semaines, Saddam Hussein avait annoncé qu’il ne coopérerait plus avec l’Unscom [la commission chargée du désarmement en Irak (…). D’autres pays [que l’Irak possèdent des armements de destruction massive et des missiles balistiques. Avec Saddam, il y a une différence majeure : il les a utilisés. Pas une fois, mais de manière répétée (…). Confronté au dernier acte de défiance de Saddam, fin octobre, nous avons mené une intense campagne diplomatique contre l’Irak, appuyée par une imposante force militaire dans la région (…). J’avais alors décidé d’annuler l’attaque de nos avions (…) parce que Saddam avait accepté nos exigences. J’avais conclu que la meilleure chose à faire était de donner à Saddam une dernière chance (…).  Les inspecteurs en désarmement de l’ONU ont testé la volonté de coopération irakienne (…). Hier soir, le chef de l’Unscom, Richard Butler, a rendu son rapport au secrétaire général de l’ONU [Kofi Annan. Les conclusions sont brutales, claires et profondément inquiétantes. Dans quatre domaines sur cinq, l’Irak n’a pas coopéré. En fait, il a même imposé de nouvelles restrictions au travail des inspecteurs (…). Nous devions agir et agir immédiatement (…).  J’espère que Saddam va maintenant finalement coopérer avec les inspecteurs et respecter les résolutions du Conseil de sécurité. Mais nous devons nous préparer à ce qu’il ne le fasse pas et nous devons faire face au danger très réel qu’il représente. Nous allons donc poursuivre une stratégie à long terme pour contenir l’Irak et ses armes de destruction massive et travailler jusqu’au jour où l’Irak aura un gouvernement digne de sa population (…). La dure réalité est qu’aussi longtemps que Saddam reste au pouvoir il menace le bien-être de sa population, la paix de la région et la sécurité du monde. La meilleure façon de mettre un terme définitif à cette menace est la constitution d’un nouveau gouvernement, un gouvernement prêt à vivre en paix avec ses voisins, un gouvernement qui respecte les droits de sa population. Bill Clinton (16.12.98)
Dans l’immédiat, notre attention doit se porter en priorité sur les domaines biologique et chimique. C’est là que nos présomptions vis-à-vis de l’Iraq sont les plus significatives : sur le chimique, nous avons des indices d’une capacité de production de VX et d’ypérite ; sur le biologique, nos indices portent sur la détention possible de stocks significatifs de bacille du charbon et de toxine botulique, et une éventuelle capacité de production.  Dominique De Villepin
Il est maintenant clair que les assurances données par Chirac ont joué un rôle crucial, persuadant Saddam Hussein de ne pas offrir les concessions qui auraient pu éviter une guerre et le changement de régime. Selon l’ex-vice président Tareq Aziz, s’exprimant depuis sa cellule devant des enquêteurs américains et irakiens, Saddam était convaincu que les Français, et dans une moindre mesure, les Russes allaient sauver son régime à la dernière minute. Amir Taheri
Comme l’exemple d’usage chimique contre les populations kurdes de 1987-1988 en avait apporté la preuve, ces armes avaient aussi un usage interne. Thérèse Delpech
Les inspecteurs n’ont jamais pu vérifier ce qu’il était advenu de 3,9 tonnes de VX (…) dont la production entre 1988 et 1990 a été reconnue par l’Irak. Bagdad a déclaré que les destructions avaient eu lieu en 1990 mais n’en a pas fourni de preuves. En février 2003 (…) un document a été fourni [par Bagdad] à l’Unmovic pour tenter d’expliquer le devenir d’environ 63 % du VX manquant. Auparavant, les Irakiens prétendaient ne pas détenir un tel document. » Idem pour l’anthrax, dont l’Irak affirmait avoir détruit le stock en 1991. Mais, « en mars 2003, l’Unmovic concluait qu’il existait toujours, très probablement, 10 000 litres d’anthrax non détruits par l’Irak... Comme pour le VX, l’Irak a fourni à l’ONU, en février 2003, un document sur ce sujet qui ne pouvait permettre de conclure quelles quantités avaient été détruites … Thérèse Delpech
Je pense que c’est à cause de l’unanimité, tout le monde était contre la guerre, les gens étaient contents de lire dans les journaux combien la guerre était mauvaise, comme le président français l’avait prédit. (…) Dans la phase du Saddamgrad Patrice Claude et Rémy Ourdan du Monde ont inventé des atrocités, produit des témoignages en phase avec ce qu’ils ne pouvaient voir. (…) Sur les fedayyin de Saddam, les gardes les plus brutaux du dictateur, ses SS, Ourdain a dit que les fedayyin n’ont pas combattu parce qu’ils étaient effrayés de la façon dont les GI’s tuaient tout le monde, dont un grand nombre de civils. Alain Hertoghe
Even when viewed through a post-war lens, documentary evidence of messages are consistent with the Iraqi Survey Group’s conclusion that Saddam was at least keeping a WMD program primed for a quick re-start the moment the UN Security Council lifted sanctions. Iraqi Perpectives Project (March 2006)
Captured Iraqi documents have uncovered evidence that links the regime of Saddam Hussein to regional and global terrorism, including a variety of revolutionary, liberation, nationalist, and Islamic terrorist organizations. While these documents do not reveal direct coordination and assistance between the Saddam regime and the al Qaeda network, they do indicate that Saddam was willing to use, albeit cautiously, operatives affiliated with al Qaeda as long as Saddam could have these terrorist operatives monitored closely. Because Saddam’s security organizations and Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network operated with similar aims (at least in the short term), considerable overlap was inevitable when monitoring, contacting, financing, and training the same outside groups. This created both the appearance of and, in some ways, a de facto link between the organizations. At times, these organizations would work together in pursuit of shared goals but still maintain their autonomy and independence because of innate caution and mutual distrust. Though the execution of Iraqi terror plots was not always successful, evidence shows that Saddam’s use of terrorist tactics and his support for terrorist groups remained strong up until the collapse of the regime.  Iraqi Perspectives Project (Saddam and Terrorism, Nov. 2007, released Mar. 2008)
Beginning in 1994, the Fedayeen Saddam opened its own paramilitary training camps for volunteers, graduating more than 7,200 « good men racing full with courage and enthusiasm » in the first year. Beginning in 1998, these camps began hosting « Arab volunteers from Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, ‘the Gulf,’ and Syria. » It is not clear from available evidence where all of these non-Iraqi volunteers who were « sacrificing for the cause » went to ply their newfound skills. Before the summer of 2002, most volunteers went home upon the completion of training. But these camps were humming with frenzied activity in the months immediately prior to the war. As late as January 2003, the volunteers participated in a special training event called the « Heroes Attack. » This training event was designed in part to prepare regional Fedayeen Saddam commands to « obstruct the enemy from achieving his goal and to support keeping peace and stability in the province.  » Study (Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia)
The information that the Russians have collected from their sources inside the American Central Command in Doha is that the United States is convinced that occupying Iraqi cities are impossible, and that they have changed their tactic. Captured Iraqi document  (« Letter from Russian Official to Presidential Secretary Concerning American Intentions in Iraq », March 25, 2003)
Est-ce que les peuples du Moyen-Orient sont hors d’atteinte de la liberté? Est-ce que des millions d’hommes, de femmes et d’enfants sont condamnés par leur histoire et leur culture au despotisme? Sont-ils les seuls à ne pouvoir jamais connaître la liberté ou même à ne pas avoir le choix? Bush (2003)
La raison pour laquelle je continue de dire qu’il y a un lien entre l’Irak, Saddam et Al-Qaida est parce qu’il y a un lien entre l’Irak et Al-Qaida. (…) Cette administration n’a jamais dit que les attentats du 11/9 ont été orchestrés entre Saddam et Al Qaeda. Nous avons dit qu’il y avait de nombreux contacts entre Saddam Hussein et Al Qaeda. George W. Bush (Washington Post, 2004)
Avec notre aide, les peuples du Moyen-Orient s’avancent maintenant pour réclamer leur liberté. De Kaboul à Bagdad et à Beyrouth, il y a des hommes et des femmes courageux qui risquent leur vie chaque jour pour les mêmes libertés que nous apprécions. Et elles ont une question pour nous : Avons-nous le courage de faire  au Moyen-Orient ce que nos pères et grands-pères ont accompli en Europe et en Asie ? En prenant position avec les chefs et les réformateurs démocratiques, en donnant notre voix aux espoirs des hommes et des femmes décents, nous leur offrons une voix hors du radicalisme. Et nous enrôlons la force la plus puissante pour la paix et la modération au Moyen-Orient : le désir de millions d’être libres. (…) En ce tout début de siècle, l’Amérique rêve au jour où les peuples du Moyen-Orient quitteront le désert du despotisme pour les jardins fertiles de la liberté – et reprendront leur place légitime dans un monde de paix et de prospérité. Nous rêvons au jour où les nations de cette région reconnaitront que leur plus grande ressource n’est pas le pétrole de leur sous-sol – mais le talent et la créativité de leurs populations. Nous rêvons au jour où les mères et les pères de tout le Moyen-Orient verront un avenir d’espoir et d’opportunités pour leurs enfants. Et quand ce beau jour viendra, les nuages de la guerre seront balayés, l’appel du radicalisme diminuera… et nous laisserons à nos enfants un monde meilleur et plus sûr. Bush (11/9/2006)  
Le projet de révolution démocratique mondiale peut faire sourire. Mais ce n’est pas totalement sans raison que les néoconservateurs, qui l’ont inspiré, se targuent d’avoir contribué, sous le deuxième mandat de M. Reagan, à la démocratisation en Asie, en Amérique latine et en Europe. Ils souhaitent aujourd’hui mettre un terme à «l’exception moyen-orientale» : à la fois par intérêt et par idéalisme, l’Administration américaine veut rompre avec des décennies d’accommodement avec les dictatures de la région au nom de la stabilité (condition nécessaire, notamment, à l’accès régulier à un pétrole bon marché). Il s’agirait en effet de gagner la «quatrième guerre mondiale», comme a été gagnée la «troisième», c’est-à-dire la guerre froide. Le pari est évidemment difficile. Pour des raisons tactiques, les États-Unis doivent aujourd’hui ménager des régimes autoritaires tels que l’Arabie saoudite, dont ils ont besoin pour la lutte antiterroriste. (…) De ce fait, Paul Wolfowitz n’a pas tort de suggérer que le combat engagé par les États-Unis durera plus longtemps que la guerre froide et sera plus dur que la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Mais, si le résultat est incertain, le mouvement lui est bien engagé. Les révolutions pacifiques en Géorgie et en Ukraine ont été appuyées discrètement par des organisations publiques et privées américaines. Certes, ce qu’il est convenu d’appeler le «printemps arabe» repose aussi sur des dynamiques locales et a bien sûr bénéficié d’événements imprévus tels que la mort de Yasser Arafat ou l’assassinat de Rafic Hariri. Mais la pression américaine a joué un rôle non négligeable. En mai 2004, choisissant de «se couper les cheveux avant que les Américains ne les tondent» – selon les termes d’un diplomate, les dirigeants de la Ligue arabe se sont engagés à étendre les pratiques démocratiques, à élargir la participation des citoyens à la vie publique et à renforcer la société civile. Même le président Assad semble aux abois lorsqu’il dit publiquement qu’il «n’est pas Saddam Hussein» et qu’il «veut négocier»… (…). La question géopolitique centrale de notre temps reste donc bien celle qui avait été au coeur de l’affrontement franco-américain de 2002-2003 : faut-il préférer la stabilité au risque de l’injustice, ou la démocratisation au risque du chaos ? Optimiste et risqué, le pari américain n’en reste pas moins éthiquement défendable et met du coup l’Europe, qui se veut une «puissance morale» (si l’on en croit le président de la Commission, M. Barroso), en porte-à-faux. L’Union européenne s’est révélée être une force capable de promouvoir simultanément la stabilité et la démocratisation, mais seulement dans son environnement immédiat. Pour le reste, elle n’a pas de stratégie alternative, le «processus de Barcelone» ayant eu du point de vue politique des résultats plus que mitigés. Il lui reste donc à choisir entre approuver, s’opposer ou accompagner le combat américain. Bruno Tertrais (mars 2005)
By late 2003, even the Bush White House’s staunchest defenders were starting to give up on the idea that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But WikiLeaks’ newly-released Iraq war documents reveal that for years afterward, U.S. troops continued to find chemical weapons labs, encounter insurgent specialists in toxins and uncover weapons of mass destruction. Wired magazine (2010)
It’s more than a little ironic that, with its newest document dump from the Iraq campaign, WikiLeaks may have just bolstered one of the Bush administration’s most controversial claims about the Iraq war: that Iran supplied many of the Iraq insurgency’s deadliest weapons and worked hand-in-glove with some of its most lethal militias. The documents indicate that Iran was a major combatant in the Iraq war, as its elite Quds Force trained Iraqi Shiite insurgents and imported deadly weapons like the shape-charged Explosively Formed Projectile bombs into Iraq for use against civilians, Sunni militants and U.S. troops. A report from 2006 claims “neuroparalytic” chemical weapons from Iran were smuggled into Iraq. (It’s one of many, many documents recounting WMD efforts in Iraq.) Others indicate that Iran flooded Iraq with guns and rockets, including the Misagh-1 surface-to-air missile, .50 caliber rifles, rockets and much more. As the New York Times observes, Iranian agents plotted to kidnap U.S. troops from out of their Humvees — something that occurred in Karbala in 2007, leaving five U.S. troops dead. (It’s still not totally clear if the Iranians were responsible.) Wired
A partir de la Guerre Froide, cette région est devenue stratégique de par ses ressources nécessaires au premier consommateur mondial d’énergie, mais aussi de par la rivalité idéologique entre l’URSS et les Etats-Unis. Cette époque fut dominée par la pensée de Kissinger qui prôna en conformité avec la « Realpolitik », l’immobilisme politique des régimes arabes comme option nécessaire à la consolidation de l’influence américaine. En échange d’une approbation de la diplomatie américaine, les régimes se voyaient soutenus. Les limites de cette politique ont commencé à se faire sentir lorsque les Etats-Unis en 1979 ont continué à appuyer le Shah d’Iran, ignorant alors qu’une population était en train de se soulever, donnant naissance à l’islamisme politique. Dans les années 80, le président Reagan introduisit une vision opposée au réalisme, attenant à une vision idéaliste d’une mission américaine d’exporter les justes valeurs au reste du monde. C’est dans son discours de Juin 1982 que Reagan parla « d’une croisade pour la liberté qui engagera la foi et le courage de la prochaine génération». Le président Bush père et Clinton reprirent une vision plus « réaliste » dans un nouveau contexte de sortie de Guerre Froide. Malgré « le nouvel ordre mondial » prôné par Bush père, son action n’alla pas jusqu’à Bagdad et préféra laisser un régime connu en place. Le 11 Septembre 2001 a révélé les limites de l’immobilisme politique des pays arabes, lorsque certains régimes soutenus n’ont pu s’opposer aux islamistes radicaux. Les néo-conservateurs qui participaient alors au gouvernement de G.W Bush, décidèrent de passer à l’action et de bousculer l’ordre établi dans la région, afin de pérenniser leur accès aux ressources énergétiques, mais aussi probablement pour d’autres raisons. Notamment selon G. Ayache « pour montrer (leur) force par rapport à la Chine dont le statut international ne cesse de croître et dont les besoins énergétiques sont appelés à concurrencer ceux des Etats-Unis(…), et dans l’objectif proclamé de lutte contre le terrorisme.» Les néo-conservateurs se sont dès le début prononcés pour la redistribution des cartes politiques dans cette région, donc un changement de régimes. Le nouveau président américain voulut se poser dans la lignée des présidents qui ont marqué l’histoire. Lors de son discours du 11 Septembre 2006, il s’est adressé en ces termes au peuple américain : « Ayez la patience de faire ce que nos pères et nos grands-pères ont fait pour l’Europe et pour l’Asie.» En fait, le vieux projet de Reagan d’exportation de la démocratie fut remis au goût du jour à travers l’annonce du projet de Grand Moyen-Orient en Novembre 2003 qui prôna la nécessité d’une démocratisation sans limites. Les néo-conservateurs qui avaient participé au deuxième mandat de Reagan revendiquèrent leur apport à la démocratisation en Asie, en Amérique latine et en Europe dans les années 80 et 90. Il était donc temps selon eux de mettre fin à la situation stagnante au Moyen-Orient. La théorie des dominos était censée s’appliquer à la région en partant de l’Irak, même si elle pouvait mettre un certain temps à se réaliser selon les dynamiques locales. Alia Al Jiboury
Depuis la chute de la dictature de Ben Ali en Tunisie, les dictateurs et autres despotes arabes tremblent devant le vent de liberté, transformé en tempête. Les peuples arabes, compressés depuis des décennies, rêvent de liberté et de démocratie. Ils finissent, à tour de rôle, par réaliser le projet de George W. Bush, qu’ils avaient tant dénoncé. Mediarabe.info (février 2011)
L’analogie que nous utilisons ici parfois, et je pense que c’est exact, c’est que si une équipe de juniors met l’uniforme des Lakers, cela n’en fait pas des Kobe Bryant. Obama (27 janvier 2014)
Al-Qaïda et le groupe Etat islamique recherchent désespérément une légitimité. Ils tentent de se dépeindre comme des leaders religieux et ils diffusent l’idée que l’Occident est en guerre contre l’islam. Nous ne devons jamais accepter les principes qu’ils mettent en avant, et nous devons leur refuser la légitimité qu’ils recherchent. Ce ne sont pas des leaders religieux, ce sont des terroristes ! Barack Obama
Avant mon départ, j’ai prévenu et rencontré les conseillers diplomatiques de quatre autorités : l’Elysée, les ministères des Affaires étrangères, de la Défense et de l’Intérieur. L’information a donc dû être remontée à François Hollande (ce dernier a affirmé, jeudi depuis Manille, ne pas avoir été informé, Ndlr). Par ailleurs, nous avons proposé à de nombreux députés de partir avec nous. La plupart ne pouvait pas pour des raisons d’agenda. Gérard Bapt (député PS)
Even if you’d left Saddam in place in 2003, then when 2011 happened, and you had the Arab revolutions going through Tunisia and Libya and Yemen and Bahrain and Egypt and Syria, you would have still had a major problem in Iraq. Indeed, you can see what happens when you leave the dictator in place, as has happened with Assad now. The problems don’t go away. So, one of the things I’m trying to say is, you know, we can rerun the debates about 2003, and there are perfectly legitimate points on either side but where we are now in 2014, we have to understand this is a regional problem, but it’s a problem that will affect us. Tony Blair
This is not the work of neophyte enthusiasts inspired by their imagined rewards of martyrdom, it is clearly the result of detailed planning by people who know Iraq well, have prior experience and training, and are able to manage an organization with discipline and secrecy; all characteristics of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist supporters. Richard Barrett 
What the Baathists probably get out of it is a way back into Iraq. Brian Fishman
Had Saddam’s men had I-phones around to record their atrocities, the results would have been just as horrific. There would, however, have been one important difference. In Saddam’s case, the footage of those toppling into mass graves wouldn’t have just been a few dozen or hundred, but hundreds of thousands. (…) Take the sun-parched fields just outside the town of Hillah, south of Baghdad, for example, which I visited as a reporter in Baghdad in May 2003, just after the Ba’athist regime’s fall. Scattered around there were dozens of mass graves, some holding up to 2,000 skeletons at a time, all of them the victims of massacres carried out by Ba’athist troops in the aftermath of the first Gulf War in 1991. It’s estimated that Saddam killed around 300,000 people at that time – all in the name of putting down an uprising against his rule. No, one can’t be certain that he would have done the same in the event of an Arab Spring ten years later. But it does rather suggest he had it in him. (…) The mass graves aren’t just around the south. The Kurds, who are now fighting ISIS in the north, lost at least 50,000 people during Saddam’s Anfal campaign in the late 1980s, including 5,000 massacred in the gas attack at Halabja. And then there’s the hundreds of thousands who didn’t actually die at Saddam’s own hands, but were sent to near-certain deaths in his endless wars. (…)  Half a million people on either side perished in the eight year war that Saddam started with neighbouring Iran, a campaign of trench warfare far more brutal and senseless than anything in World War One. Another 100,000 were killed by the Allied armies as they repelled his equally foolhardy invasion of Kuwait in 1991. And this is before you take into account all those he tortured and killed in secret. Colin Freeman

C’est la faute à Bush et aux i-phones !

Alors que contre le déni de nos dirigeants, l’Etat islamique redouble de barbarie pour démontrer son attachement à la religion d’amour, de tolérance et de paix …

Et que les mêmes qui ont applaudi à l’abandon de l’Irak par lesdits dirigeants ne manquent pas aujourd’hui d’en accuser la prétendue guerre de Bush et Blair contre des mythiques, on le sait, ADM …

Tout en appelant à présent, après les échecs irakien et libyen, à la reprise des contacts avec le Saddam syrien …

Pendant qu’un récent rapport montrait l’indéniable apport, pour les surprenantes prouesses militaires d’une prétendue bande de fanatiques, des anciens officiers de Saddam …

Petite remise des pendules à l’heure avec un article de l’an dernier du correspondant diplomatique du Telegraph Colin Freeman …

Montrant qu’avec quelque 300, 000 victimes au compteur …

Et sans compter les quelque 50 000 kurdes dont 5 000 passés par les gaz à Halabja …

Et les centaines de milliers de ses guerres avec l’Iran …

M. Saddam Hussein était bien parti, les i-phones en moins, pour marquer l’histoire …

Tony Blair’s Iraq critics should remember that Saddam filled far more mass graves than ISIS
Colin Freeman

The Telegraph

June 18th, 2014

Reading some of the recent coverage of the latest atrocities in Iraq, it’s hard to make who the real villain is. Is it the fanatics of ISIS, with their YouTube snuff movies showing mass executions of Iraqi soldiers?

Or is the real man to blame one Tony Blair, whose decision to help America bring down Saddam Hussein is the root cause of it all? Certainly, judging by some of the headlines from earlier this week, one could have forgiven for thinking that it was Mr Blair himself who was pulling the trigger on those hapless Iraqi troops.

Numerous articles have carried graphic images of the massacre, alongside denunciations of Mr Blair and insinuations that this barbarity is his legacy and his fault.

The former prime minister has always been a handy lightning rod for Britain’s unease over Iraq. But in this case, he incurred particular ire for having argued, via interviews and newspaper articles, that it was not just West’s fault that Iraq had gone into meltdown. He pointed out that had Saddam still been in power when the Arab Spring began, Iraq would likely have been a far bigger, scarier mess than it is.

Like every other argument about the rights and wrongs of the Iraq war, this can, of course, be debated endlessly. Without the Iraq invasion, the Arab Spring, for better or worse, might never even happened, for example.

But one point that is not in debate is that Saddam Hussein was just as brutal a killer as ISIS’s thugs are, and had Saddam’s men had I-phones around to record their atrocities, the results would have been just as horrific. There would, however, have been one important difference. In Saddam’s case, the footage of those toppling into mass graves wouldn’t have just been a few dozen or hundred, but hundreds of thousands.

Take the sun-parched fields just outside the town of Hillah, south of Baghdad, for example, which I visited as a reporter in Baghdad in May 2003, just after the Ba’athist regime’s fall. Scattered around there were dozens of mass graves, some holding up to 2,000 skeletons at a time, all of them the victims of massacres carried out by Ba’athist troops in the aftermath of the first Gulf War in 1991. It’s estimated that Saddam killed around 300,000 people at that time – all in the name of putting down an uprising against his rule. No, one can’t be certain that he would have done the same in the event of an Arab Spring ten years later. But it does rather suggest he had it in him.

The mass graves aren’t just around the south. The Kurds, who are now fighting ISIS in the north, lost at least 50,000 people during Saddam’s Anfal campaign in the late 1980s, including 5,000 massacred in the gas attack at Halabja. And then there’s the hundreds of thousands who didn’t actually die at Saddam’s own hands, but were sent to near-certain deaths in his endless wars.

Half a million people on either side perished in the eight year war that Saddam started with neighbouring Iran, a campaign of trench warfare far more brutal and senseless than anything in World War One. Another 100,000 were killed by the Allied armies as they repelled his equally foolhardy invasion of Kuwait in 1991. And this is before you take into account all those he tortured and killed in secret.

The figures I’ve quoted above are well-known, of course. But standing in a mass grave in southern Iraq brings it home to you – as did working with my old translator, a former army colonel who had commanded of one of Saddam’s tank brigades. I hired on him on the spot one day in Baghdad shortly after Saddam’s fall, when he’d been reduced to driving a taxi rather than a tank for a living, and remembered being struck by how different our two lives were. He was only four years older than me, yet had fought in five different wars in 20 years: Iran-Iraq, the campaign against the Kurds, the invasion of Kuwait, the quelling of the post-1991 uprising and lastly, Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which he’d deserted along with the rest of his men. Occasionally he used to hint at dark things he’d done in the line of duty, never saying what they were but simply mentioning that it in the Saddam’s armies, you « followed orders and that was that ».

Like many Iraqis, he had mixed views about Saddam’s departure, describing him as « a dog » in one breath, and saying Iraq desperately needed a strongman in the other. One thing, though, always seemed clear to me: if Saddam had already directed his armies to kill a million people in the course of my translator’s 20 years’ service, he might well have done another few hundred thousand had he been left in power. And for that reason alone, we should remember that it is him, not Tony Blair, that is the real villain alongside ISIS.

Voir aussi:

Iraq crisis: anger at Tony Blair over Middle East conflict blame game
Tony Blair is heavily criticised for putting blame on the current generation of British political leaders for the renewed conflict in Iraq
Matthew Holehouse, Political Correspondent
The Telegraph

15 Jun 2014

Tony Blair has been criticised over his claim that the current generation of political leaders is to blame for the violence engulfing Iraq.
He said that the refusal last year to intervene in Syria’s civil war had created the conditions for the al-Qaeda aligned ISIS movement to flourish in that country before advancing into Iraq’s major cities.

The former Prime Minister insisted that his decision to intervene in Iraq in 2003 was not the cause of the fresh wave of bloodshed. The turmoil across the region has been caused by the Arab Spring, Mr Blair said, which would have swept Saddam from power and caused chaos if Britain and the United States had not intervened in 2003.
He called for air strikes or drone assaults, saying that the ISIS fighters posed a threat to British national security. “They are going to pull us into this whether we like it or not,” he said.

The claims were met with anger and ridicule from former allies and from MPs who voted against last year’s proposed strikes on Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

John Baron, a back-bench Conservative who led opposition to the strikes, said Mr Blair’s analysis of the crisis was “wrong”. “Old habits die hard,” he said. “There is no doubt we went to war in Iraq on a false premise and made grave errors in the immediate aftermath in leaving a power vacuum. A large part of the troubles today can be traced back to that period.”

He added: “Arming the rebels or intervening militarily in Syria would have helped extremist factions linked to al-Qaeda. We were right not to intervene.”

Lord Prescott, the former deputy prime minister, ridiculed his former boss. “Put on a white sheet and a red cross and we are back to the Crusades,” he said. “It is all about religion. In these countries it has gone on for a thousand years.”

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, chairman of the parliamentary intelligence and security committee, said: “Tony Blair is preoccupied with the assumption that people will say that he, his actions, had at least some part in this.” Sir Malcolm said the situation in Iraq was an “utter disaster” and there was little that Britain or the US could do to resolve the deeper crisis.

Sir Christopher Meyer, Britain’s ambassador to the US from 1997 to 2003, said the handling of the campaign against Saddam was “perhaps the most significant reason” for the sectarian violence now ripping through Iraq. “We are reaping what we sowed in 2003. This is not hindsight. We knew in the run-up to war that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein would seriously destabilise Iraq after 24 years of his iron rule,” he said.

David Cameron pressed for air strikes against Syria after President Assad used chemical weapons against civilians in the battle against rebel forces. However, the plan was vetoed in the Commons. Asked whether Britain made the “wrong call”, Mr Blair said: “In my judgment, as I said at the time, yes.”

Mr Blair called for the RAF and US to apply the “selective use of air power”, such as that used against Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, to help topple the Assad regime and bring the war in Syria to an end. Mr Blair said that ISIS will attack Britain unless it is stopped as “the people who are causing this instability and this chaos … they are also prepared to fight us and they will if they are not stopped”.

Voir encore:

Tony Blair denies Iraq invasion caused current crisis
Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr, former Prime Minister Tony Blair claims there would still be a « major problem » in Iraq even without the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003

The Telegraph

15 Jun 2014

The former prime minister Tony Blair has rejected arguments that Iraq would be more stable and peaceful today if the US-backed war, which claimed the lives of 179 UK personnel, had not happened.
He claimed that the violent insurgency in Iraq is the result of the West’s failure to intervene in Syria, not of the 2003 invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Blair said: « Even if you’d left Saddam in place in 2003, then when 2011 happened, and you had the Arab revolutions going through Tunisia and Libya and Yemen and Bahrain and Egypt and Syria, you would have still had a major problem in Iraq.
« Indeed, you can see what happens when you leave the dictator in place, as has happened with Assad now. The problems don’t go away. »
He added: « So, one of the things I’m trying to say is, you know, we can rerun the debates about 2003, and there are perfectly legitimate points on either side but where we are now in 2014, we have to understand this is a regional problem, but it’s a problem that will affect us. »

Voir de plus:

How Saddam’s Former Soldiers Are Fueling the Rise of ISIS
Jason M. Breslow

PBS

October 28, 2014

As the Islamic State continues its march through Syria and Iraq, the jihadist group is quietly utilizing a network of former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party to help militarize a fighting force that has effectively erased the border between both nations and left roughly 6 million people under its rule.

The extent of this seemingly mismatched alliance is detailed in a new report by the New York-based intelligence firm, The Soufan Group. Despite a deep philosophical divide between ISIS and the Baath Party, the two sides have found “sufficient coincidence of interest to overcome any ideological disagreement,” the analysis, which will be released on Wednesday, found.

This “marriage of convenience,” as the report’s author, Richard Barrett describes it, can be seen throughout the ISIS hierarchy. The current head of the group’s military council, for example, is believed to be Abu Ahmad al Alwani, an ex-member of Saddam Hussein’s army. So too was al Alwani’s predecessor. Another member of the military council, Abu Muhanad al Sweidawi, was once a lieutenant colonel in Hussein’s air defense intelligence, but by early 2014 was heading ISIS operations in western Syria, according to the report.

Similarly, two deputies to the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliph, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, are former Baathists: Abu Muslim al Afari al Turkmani is believed to have been a senior special forces officer and a member of military intelligence in Hussein’s army. Today, as Baghdadi’s number two, he supervises ISIS operations in Iraq. The second deputy, Abu Ali al Anbari oversees operations in Syria. Both men are also thought to serve on the Islamic State’s main governing body, known as the Shura Council.

Even the appointment of al Baghdadi to lead the Islamic State of Iraq in 2010 is reported by an ISIS defector to have been engineered by a former Baathist: Haji Bakr, an ex-colonel from the Iraqi Revolutionary Guard. Bakr “initially attracted criticism from fellow members of the group for his lack of a proper beard and lax observance of other dictates of their religious practice,” the report notes, “But his organizational skills, knowledge of the Iraqi Army and network of fellow ex-Baathists made him a valuable resource.”

It’s this type of expertise and network of connections that has made former Baathists so valuable to the Islamic State, says Barrett. Case in point, he says, is the long-term planning and preparation seen in the Islamic State’s capture of Nineveh Province and its capital, Mosul, in June 2014. As he writes of the campaign:

This is not the work of neophyte enthusiasts inspired by their imagined rewards of martyrdom, it is clearly the result of detailed planning by people who know Iraq well, have prior experience and training, and are able to manage an organization with discipline and secrecy; all characteristics of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist supporters.

The incentives for ex-Baathists may be equally opportunistic.

“What the Baathists probably get out of it is a way back into Iraq,” says Brian Fishman, a counterterrorism research fellow at the New America Foundation. Before the Islamic State’s emergence, Fishman notes, many Baathists had been effectively forced out of Iraq to neighboring Syria. Today, they’re back home, slowly acquiring influence and territory.

The question is, how long can the alliance last? One of the few points the two groups agree on, analysts say, is restoring Sunni rule in Iraq. Fundamentally, however, ISIS is focused on expanding the Islamic caliphate that it declared on June 29, 2014. For its part, the Baath Party in Iraq has been a largely secular, nationalist movement.

Some fissures have already begun to surface. In July, for example, Reuters reported that Sunni militants that helped ISIS capture Mosul rounded up as many as 60 senior ex-military officers and other onetime members of the Baath Party. That same month, a rival Sunni group made up of many former Baathists issued a statement denouncing the Islamic State’s persecution of Iraq’s religious minorities.

But predicting just how deep any split may go is hard to tell. On the one hand, says Barrett, ex-Baathists may decide it’s in their interest to continue harnessing the energy of ISIS in order to regain prominence in Iraq. Barrett says its easy to see ex-Baathists then tell themselves, “Once we achieve our objectives, our political objectives, then we’ll sort out all this business about these crazies who believe in a caliphate.”

On the other hand, Baathists may simply come to the conclusion that there is nowhere else for them to go. “They’re going to make the best of a bad job in a way,” Barrett says.

Fishman sees a similar decision facing former Baathists, but he warns against assuming the block will act in concert. It’s important to remember, he notes, that beginning in late 2006, Baathists faced a comparable scenario, and while some opted to continue their involvement in the Iraqi insurgency, others chose to align themselves with the U.S. against Sunni militants.

For the Islamists, meanwhile, their view of the alliance may end up being guided more by politics than it is by ideology, says Fishman.

“ISIS at the end of the day is a political actor, and they have this sort of extreme, even ideological perspective, but that is all framed through who is helping us on the battlefield and who’s not,” he says. “If you’re helping them on the battlefield, they’re going to find a reason to think you’re a good guy. If you are not helping them on the battlefield, they’re going to find a reason to think you’re a bad guy.

Voir également:

My Stages of Grief for Iraq
The Country I Loved Died in 1990. The Rise of the Islamic State Is My Worst Nightmare.
Saif Al-Azzawi

Socalo public square

September 8, 2014

When people ask me how I feel about the latest events in Iraq, I tell them I feel sad. All these people—both Americans and Iraqis who have died since 2003—died for nothing. And as the Islamic State insurgency unfolds, and as Iraq tries once again for a peaceful political transition, I’m mourning not just those who have died over the past decade, but for a country that I haven’t been able to recognize for a very long time.

I grew up in Baghdad in a middle-class family. My father served in the Iraqi Air Force and often traveled internationally; my mother was a math teacher; my siblings all attended college. I graduated from the most prestigious high school in Baghdad before getting my degree at pharmacy school.

I grew up reading Superman and Batman comics, playing with Legos, and swimming at the pools of the fancy clubs where my parents were members. I was 12 during the first Gulf War in 1990. And until then, my childhood was uneventful: I was a happy kid.

Until 1990, I never heard a mosque call for prayer. I almost never saw a woman covering her hair with a hijab. My mom wore make-up, skirts, blouses with shoulder pads, and Bermuda shorts. She never covered her hair.

Since moving to Los Angeles in 2009, I’ve realized that most Americans don’t understand that Iraq used to be a modern, Westernized, and secular country. From the 1930s to the 1980s, Iraq’s neighbors looked to it as the example. People from different Arab countries came to Iraq to attend university. The country had an excellent education system, great healthcare, and Iraq was rich—not the richest, but rich.

Of course, Iraq is not like this today.

After Iraq invaded Kuwait, 24 years ago last month, the United States destroyed most of Iraq’s infrastructure during the Persian Gulf War. Bridges were bombed, along with power stations, railroads, dams, and oil refineries.

I remember that we would turn on the faucet, and barely any water would come out. It was worse during the summer. In order to take showers, we had to rely on water tanks on the roof, which supplied extra water to our home. To keep the tanks full, we had to fill containers with dripping water from a hose. Sometimes it would take hours for one container to fill because there was so little water. Then we would have to carry each container up and down the roof in many shifts. To make things worse, the water would come out boiling hot because it had been sitting in the sun. We also had limited electricity—which remains a problem, even 20 years later. Sleeping was difficult. You would wake up, sweating, in the middle of the night. You couldn’t open the windows because of mosquitoes. I would sleep in my underwear on the marble floor because it was cooler.

In 1990, an embargo was imposed, which prohibited Iraq from exporting oil. Iraqis suddenly found themselves poor.

Prices became inflated, and everything cost more. Before the war, you could buy a flat of eggs for two Iraqi dinars. By 2003, when the U.S. invaded Iraq again, those eggs cost several thousand dinars. (My monthly paycheck after I graduated from pharmacy school was 50,000 dinars a month.)

People’s values changed after 1990, too. Robberies increased. Houses were even built differently. There used to be low fences separating one house from another. But after the war, people built high fences and covered their windows with bars. Our home was robbed three times over 10 years. If you parked your car by the street—even for just three minutes—you risked your hubcaps being stolen.

Gradually, people also began turning to religion as a result of all the hardships. Religion changed the country: more censorship, more rules, more rigidity. Alcohol, which was once widely accepted, was frowned upon. Mainstream TV shows and movies—even cartoons—were censored to remove kissing scenes, partial nudity, and other elements viewed as immoral.

Neither of the United States wars changed life in Iraq the way the U.S. government had intended.

I think the United States wanted Iraqis to revolt against Saddam Hussein and depose him. That wasn’t going to happen.

In the movie Stargate, scientists go back in time to ancient Egypt, where an alien is enslaving the Egyptians. The scientists try to convince the Egyptians to claim their freedom. The Egyptians look at one another and say something like, “Yes, that makes sense. Freedom.”

If only it were that easy.

The notion of democracy is foreign to the Arab world. Although the West saw the “Arab Spring” protests as movements for democracy, they were really uprisings against various dictators, which are not the same thing. What we know is that for countless generations, we’ve lived in a hierarchical society. It’s not about individualism or personal freedoms. It’s about following your father, your family, and your tribe. There’s no culture of respecting different opinions.

As a college student, I looked to the West in awe of the personal freedoms and human rights that let people follow their dreams. In the U.S., even animals had rights.

But many Iraqis I know don’t see freedom the way Americans do: a political right afforded to everyone who lives in the U.S. I’ve heard crazy comments that equate freedom with loose morals and women having sex without being married.

The very idea of freedom rocks the whole foundation of Iraqi culture. So, when Iraqis were given their freedom, instead of turning to democracy, they, like many other in the region, turned to religion—and religious leaders for guidance, and political advice.

Shiites voted for Shiite candidates. Sunnis voted for Sunnis. The Shiites came to power because they were the majority.

What’s happening in Iraq today is merely a continuation of the failure of democracy. And a failure of the United States to understand the psyche of Iraqis.

The people who might have been able to change Iraq—the educated, the artists, the moderates—began leaving in 1990, after the embargo was imposed and their comfortable lifestyles came to an end. People with connections fled to friends and family in other countries. Almost all of them left the country illegally.

In 2003, Saddam Hussein fell and the floodgates opened up, with even more leaving the country for good at a time when they were most needed. Until that year, I was barred from traveling along with other pharmacists, doctors, and certain professionals.

I wanted to leave, but what would I do? Where would I go? Only a handful of countries even allowed travel on an Iraqi passport. My parents and siblings fled to Syria, and later to Jordan. I stayed in Baghdad, where I worked at the International Republican Institute, a non-governmental organization that promotes democracy in post-conflict countries. Later, I got a job as a translator at the Los Angeles Times.

With my friends and family gone, I felt very isolated and alone. It also became unsafe to move around, even to do simple things like go to a restaurant or the market.

In 2009, I managed to come to the U.S. as a refugee, and I was happy to leave Iraq behind. But even though I’d given up on my country, I had hope that things would not get as bad as they have today. It is my worst nightmare that an extremist group like the Islamic State has support in Iraq and, though it pains me to say this, the aftermath of the U.S. invasions has brought us to this point.

After the U.S. toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, some even dared to dream that the country would become as rich as Gulf States like Kuwait. There was no Iraqi government in place for a long time and, for several months, life in Baghdad was free of bombings and attacks.

To make things worse, the U.S. dissolved the Iraqi army and started a process to remove those politically aligned with Saddam, which ended up taking jobs away from thousands of Sunnis and seemed like an unfair witch hunt. Add to these political actions poverty and a lack of basic services, and you end up with a deep, sectarian divide in Iraq that I believe led to the insurgency and the problems that exist today.

I despised Saddam, but I don’t think an extremist group like the Islamic State would exist under his rule. Even if Saddam had gone crazy and killed a bunch of people, it wouldn’t be anywhere near the number who have died since he was overthrown. I see a civil war coming, and an Iraq divided into states.

So as I read the news on CNN Arabic and the BBC while pacing around the house, I feel as if I’m experiencing a death in the family. I’m going through the stages of grief: denial, anger, sadness, depression. Lately, I’ve even tried to avoid reading the news at all.

Sometimes, I watch old YouTube videos that show the way Iraq used to be. The Iraq I loved and was proud of—the country I lived in before 1990—doesn’t exist anymore. And I don’t see that changing in my lifetime.

 Voir enfin:

Gérard Bapt : « Avant mon départ en Syrie, j’ai prévenu l’Elysée »
INTERVIEW – Interrogé par leJDD.fr au lendemain de son retour de Syrie, le socialiste Gérard Bapt dresse un bilan provisoire de son voyage en Syrie, où, contrairement aux trois autres élus français, il n’a pas rencontré Bachar el-Assad. Il regrette toutefois la « déferlante » de réactions qui ont suivies son initiative.

Vendredi, le patron du PS Jean-Christophe Cambadélis a affirmé que « ni l’exécutif, ni le PS, ni l’Assemblée n’était au courant » de votre projet de voyage en Syrie. Confirmez-vous?
C’est faux. Avant mon départ, j’ai prévenu et rencontré les conseillers diplomatiques de quatre autorités : l’Elysée, les ministères des Affaires étrangères, de la Défense et de l’Intérieur. L’information a donc dû être remontée à François Hollande (ce dernier a affirmé, jeudi depuis Manille, ne pas avoir été informé, Ndlr). Par ailleurs, nous avons proposé à de nombreux députés de partir avec nous. La plupart ne pouvait pas pour des raisons d’agenda.

La commission des Affaires étrangères, présidée par Elisabeth Guigou, a-t-elle été informée?
Pas officiellement. Mon assistant a contacté celui d’Elisabeth Guigou, mais de toute façon, nous avions proposé à la majorité des élus de la commission de participer au voyage. Tout le monde, au sein de celle-ci, était en connaissance de cause. Quant à Bruno Le Roux (le patron du groupe PS, Ndlr), je n’ai pas eu le temps de l’informer car il devait alors gérer la loi Macron.

«Je n’ai pas rencontré Bachar el-Assad, mais son ministre.»

François Hollande, Manuel Valls et Jean-Christophe Cambadélis ont condamné votre initiative, et notamment la rencontre avec Bachar el-Assad…
Avant tout, je tiens à préciser que je n’ai pas rencontré le président syrien, à la différence de mes trois collègues. Il était convenu que je reste à mon hôtel à ce moment. Depuis mercredi soir, de nombreuses informations inexactes circulent.

Qui avez-vous personnellement rencontré sur place?
J’ai visité des camps de réfugiés et des hôpitaux. J’ai rencontré les professeurs et élèves du lycée français de Damas, les autorités religieuses du pays ainsi que des responsables d’associations comme la Croix-Rouge et le Croissant-Rouge.

Vous n’avez pas rencontré de responsables politiques?
Si, mais pas Bachar el-Assad lui-même. Je me suis entretenu avec le ministre des Affaires étrangères syrien ainsi qu’avec le président de l’Assemblée nationale.

«Damas évoque le chiffre de 2.000 Français dans les rangs de Daech.»

François Hollande et Manuel Valls ont martelé jeudi qu’on ne peut parler avec le régime d’un dictateur, « d’un boucher », a même dit le Premier ministre. Comprenez-vous cette position?
Le Président et le Premier ministre sont dans leur rôle par rapport à la ligne politique qu’ils se sont donnés, par rapport à la ligne morale qu’ils souhaitent tenir. Mais leurs réactions et celles de l’ensemble du personnel politique prouvent qu’il y a beaucoup d’interrogations sur place. Je ne m’attendais pas une telle déferlante de réactions à mon retour.

Quel bilan tirez-vous de votre visite?
Je fais partie de la majorité socialiste. Aussi je partagerai d’abord mes analyses avec les représentants de l’Etat. Mais je peux souligner la gravité de la situation sur place. La souffrance civile est réelle là-bas. Le régime syrien doit résister aux assauts continus de Daech au Nord comme au Sud du pays. Jeudi encore, des centaines de chrétiens ont été enlevés par les islamistes.

Faut-il renouer un lien avec Bachar el-Assad pour lutter contre l’Etat islamique?
Ce n’est pas à moi de le dire, mais à l’exécutif. J’observe seulement des faits. L’armée régulière syrienne lutte chaque jour contre Daech, qui compte, nous a-t-on dit en Syrie, des ressortissants de 83 nationalités. A Damas, les autorités ont évoqué le chiffre de 2.000 Français dans les rangs des terroristes (le ministre de l’Intérieur Bernard Cazeneuve évoque 1.400 personnes, Ndlr). Si les Kurdes ont réussi à résister à l’Etat islamique à Kobané, ce n’est pas grâce au seul parachutage d’armes américaines. Ce constat fait, je note que plusieurs pays occidentaux ont rouvert leur ambassade à Damas, comme l’Espagne récemment. Et j’ai pu observer que les Américains y sont encore présents. J’ai ainsi croisé Ramsey Clark, ex-ministre de la Justice américain, dans un ascenseur. Ces éléments méritent d’être apportés au débat.

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