Red Countries> Iraq

Iraq is one of the cornerstones in the global disaster that is unfolding before our eyes. It was really the invasion of Iraq that set the world on this current course of disaster, far more than 9/11 ever did. By invading Iraq against the wishes of the UN the Americans drastically undermined this organisation. This has led many countries, who traditionally viewed the UN as a sort of world parliament where all the peoples of the earth could have a voice and a useful diplomatic tool to head off conflicts, to view it as little more than a puppet to push forward US policies. In this climate of increasing suspicion the use of warfare over diplomacy is fast becoming the new trend.

The situation on the ground in Iraq is utterly chaotic. There is a horrendous human cost being exacted there on a daily basis. Coalition casualties are spiralling. Some estimates suggest that the Coalition forces are coming under attack every 15 minutes. As well as the human cost, the financial cost has been tremendous. Trillions of dollars of cash have even gone “missing” in the confusion of this theatre of war. The low level sectarian violence between the Sunni and Shia factions within Iraq has erupted towards civil war especially since the disaster in Lebanon. This led the US to finally officially admit that Iraq is in a state of outright civil war. The civil war is seeing so called “death squads” slaughtering each other’s civilian populations at astounding levels. This has led to several competing conflicts taking place simultaneously adding to the confusion and the carnage.

The Sunni have been waging the main insurgency that has long been taking place against the Coalition forces of the invading outside nations. They were once the dominant force in Iraq and Saddam Hussein came from among their number. However, on a purely population size ratio they are a minority. They are increasingly concerned that should Iraq be broken up into three new nations divided among themselves, the Shia and the Kurds, that they will inherit a pauper state, as they have no great oil reserves. As such, they are fiercely opposed to the support that they see the Coalition giving the Shia, even if it is an accidental alliance forged out of circumstance. The new US-sponsored Iraqi government is primarily made up of Shia. Therefore, the Sunni militants are attacking both US forces and taking part in a civil war against the Shia. The US points the finger of blame for the Sunni insurgency at the “Axis of Evil” nation of Syria. They are accused of sponsoring and supplying this insurgency.

The relationship between the Shia and the Coalition has become increasingly confused and dangerous over the last four years of occupation in Iraq. The Shia are supported and sponsored by that other “Axis of Evil” country, Iran. The Shia have capitalised on the Americans ploy to bring ‘democracy’ to the country, as this would give them a great increase in power. Initially however, they were opposed to the invasion and quietly armed themselves, forming several powerful militias in order to take on the Coalition forces. The fiercest of these groups was the Mahdi army. Led by a Shiite cleric from Baghdad by the name of Moqtada al-Sadr, they initially engaged in a very successful insurgency against the Coalition forces. This ended with the US admitting that a stalemate had been reached and a tentative ceasefire was achieved between the forces. The US envisioned they would work out a way to disarm the Mahdi army later on after democracy had been completely installed in the country. This ceasefire has seen a few notable breakdowns, but for the most part has been maintained. This is due largely to the fact that the Shia saw the new Parliament as a chance to finally seize the bulk of power within Iraq. Thus they kept their militias quiet, although they never agreed to disarm them. In the meantime the Coalition forces battling with the Sunnis played in their favour as it took the heat off them.

All this however, was before the open civil war began between the two sides. Since the civil war began the Shia militias have been mainly involved in the killings of Sunnis and had not been attacking the Coalition so much. But since the Lebanon war all of this has changed. Given that Hezbollah was a fellow Iranian backed Shia group that was now under attack from the United States and its allies, tensions again grew between the Coalition and the Shia militias. This saw several battles again erupting between Coalition forces and the Mahdi army. Now as the Iran war looms a more serious showdown again seems on the horizon between the Shia in Iraq and the US. Moqtada al-Sadr has announced that he would support Iran completely if the US attacks. This would inevitably see the Mahdi army and probably all the other Shia militias again openly attacking the US. Indeed this potential seems not to have been lost on the US and two weeks ago a large operation was launched in Shia townships. This was the first serious conflict between the Shia and the US in some time. It could be an attempt to neutralise the militias prior to the Iranian operation beginning.

Either way, the very great risk is that following the bombing of Iran, the Shia would rise up in a tide of attacks against the Coalition that, coupled with the Sunni insurgency, could swamp their forces. It could even see a temporary ceasefire occurring between the Shia and the Sunni as they united once more against the invasion force. If Syria and Iran are really getting as cosy as the Americans seem to indicate, then this would seem to be a likelihood. Syria could try and steer the Sunnis away from civil war and to focus more on the Coalition. And the Iranians could call on the Shia to stop sectarian violence and to unite with the Sunni against the Coalition. Indeed, Moqtada al-Sadr made just such a call against sectarianism recently. This could see a horrendous “Tet Offensive” style disaster erupt for the Coalition.

The third force in Iraq are the long suffering Kurdish people. Kurdistan is currently divided between Iraq, Iran and Turkey. There is a long history of conflict between the Kurds and the various governments of the countries that hold their territory under their sway. For the most part Iraqi controlled Kurdistan has managed to survive the horrors that have beset the southern provinces. After the first month of the war and the fall of Baghdad the Kurds had not seen many offensives at all in their territory. It has been the quiet success story of the Iraq horror. The Kurds have maintained an atmosphere of peace in their region throughout the disaster of the rest of the country. However, they have been under threat from the Turks, who are very keen to invade and destroy the Kurdish infrastructure. The Kurds in Turkish controlled Kurdistan continue to wage a bloody war of secession against the Turkish army. The Turks, of course, see support and supplies for this insurgency coming across the border of the now very autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan. So they continue to request that the US let them invade.

Despite them being NATO allies, the US continues to deny their requests. They do not want to endanger the sizeable oil reserves that the Kurds in Iraq hold. The Kurds are ensuring that their oil continues to flow to the West so the US continues to block Turkish efforts to engage in open war with the Iraqi Kurds. The Kurds in Iraq made their first open requests for outright secession and an independent state separate from the rest of Iraq a week ago (circa 9/10/06). Condaleeza Rice was very quick to visit the region and let them know that the US does not support this idea. However some analysts have suggested that a full break up of Iraq is now inevitable and thus an independent Kurdistan would appear, much to the Turks dismay.

This is where Iraq currently sits -- the eye of the hurricane that threatens to tear the world apart. Baghdad is now the most violent city on the face of the planet. Given that it is one of the flanks of Iran, Iraq will see a tremendous increase in conflict if the Iran war begins.