The group we’re calling ISIS claims to be an Islamic fundamentalist group that’s causing a huge ruckus, killing anybody it deems non-Muslim, and taking over a huge swath of territory in Iraq and Syria. I’ve found other evidence that ISIS grew directly out of the U.S. Occupation of Iraq. Famous Journalist John Pilger said so, for example. But this idea is not being discussed in the Western press, instead ISIS is portrayed as coming out of nowhere.
In this video, Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan goes “Head to Head” with Paul Bremer on the question. Why him? He was the appointed Governor of Iraq immediately after the U.S. illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003, and it was his decisions such as disbanding the Iraqi Army and the de-Ba’athification of Iraq’s government which are thought to have created ISIS. Those decisions left thousands upon thousands of former military and government people out of work and pissed off, it is from them which ISIS was born.
Bremer denies the allegation, saying it’s nonsense. Instead he says ISIS is basically “al Qaeda in Iraq version 3”. Version 1 was Ansar al Islam, a group which the Bush43 Administration had labeled as an al Qaeda affiliate before the 2003 invasion.
The de-Ba’athification of Iraq
The de-Ba’athification of Iraq contributed to the Iraq government becoming dominated by Shia when the previous government had been dominated by Sunni.
What Bremer says is the de-Ba’athification was done under advice from Iraqi’s the US Government had consulted before the illegal invasion of Iraq. It had been designed carefully to target just the true Ba’athists. But when they got to implementing the plan, they’d turned it over to local politicians who then broadened the plan into a general purge of anybody associated with the Ba’ath party.
Disbanding the Iraq Army
Many say this order created thousands and thousands of new “enemies” against the occupation of Iraq.
Bremer said he’d been told explicitly by the Kurds that if Bremer had “recalled” the Iraqi army, they would secede. A similar threat was made by the Shia. Therefore Iraq would have split into three if he’d reinstated the previous Iraqi army.
Another fact is that at the time the order was made, there was no standing Iraqi army. That army had been defeated in battle by US forces, and its soldiers were already unemployed and on the streets. Bremer claims the decision was about recalling the army.
Many of the ISIS leadership were formerly Ba’ath party leaders, and from the Iraqi army.
In 2006, President Bush43 said the policy had been to keep the Iraq army intact. So, did Bremer go against the policy of the US President? Bremer answered that “What he meant was … Before the war they had hoped the Iraqi would be able to be used on reconstruction projects. That was the argument that had been made before the war. But as I said earlier, with the fall of Baghdad on April 9 2003, there was not a single unit of the Iraqi army standing to arms anywhere in the country, according to the General in charge.”
When pressed, that the National Security Council believed it would be dangerous to disband the army because there would be 300,000+ men unemployed on the street. Bremer answered again that there was no Iraqi army once the occupation began.
Sectarianism – the Shia/Sunni/Kurd divide
Previously the Shia and Sunni had lived side-by-side for hundreds of years, and intermarried. Now they’re fighting each other tooth and nail.
Bremer’s answer is that a) there was no equivalent to Hamid Karzai they could turn to in Iraq, b) there was no leadership group they could turn to. Therefore they had to work with a UN representative to put together an interim government. Bremer: “He and I would have preferred to put together a Technocratic government. But the problem was there was no Technocrats available who could stand up to the job.”
He claimed the de-Ba’athification did not eliminate the potentially qualified candidates.
The problem was how to get to a new government that was representative of all of Iraq. The Shia insisted they had to be in the majority, because Shia’s are the majority of the people of Iraq. Kurds piped up saying they needed 25%, and the Sunni then said “wait we’re the majority”. So, again, the implementation when left to the local politicians, according to Bremer, was the source of the problem.
Bremer admits it wasn’t an ideal solution – but that nobody has come up with a better solution, given the heavily divided population within the territory of Iraq. It was “the least bad solution.” Perhaps we should point our fingers further back in time to the British who arbitrarily decided on Iraq’s boundaries?