So that’s all right then. We can all relax, and go back to playing boules. The Yazidi are apparently off the mountain, there’s a nice new Iraqi prime minister in office, Isis have been stalled outside Irbil, and Hitler has agreed to watch the fifth Test match with an eye to mastering the rules of LBW.
Except, it’s not all right, is it. Because Isis (Or ISIL, or IS, or Nightmare on Arab Street, or whatever they lately call themselves) aren’t going to stop here. They are sucking in power, they possess a third of Syria and a third of Iraq, they are attracting hormonal, spotty, sex-deprived Islamist yoofs with an eye for a blonde Yazidi concubine from right across the world, they have tanks, missiles, $2 billion, an income of $3 million a day, and, most of all, they are utterly fanatical and they revel in their cruelty.
We’ve been here before, of course. No, not just with the Nazis. A better comparison for the evil of Isis is actually the Khmer Rouge: the only regime in my lifetime with an equal and obviously demonic complexion.
In many ways Isis are the Khmer Rouge with prayer mats. Both wear, or wore, black, as if to emphasise their nihilism. Both expanded – even exploded – from stupid wars engendered by the West. Both ruthlessly murdered any rival factions, ensuring that they became the sole standard-bearer for fellow travellers.
ISIL is a Sunni Muslim terror gang that was set up, organized, financed, armed, trained, and used as a surrogate military force in Syria and Iraq as a foil to Iran. It is a creation of Saudi Arabia and other Sunni oiligarchies in the Arab world. It lucked out in Iraq and fell into some major spoils after “defeating” elements of the utterly corrupt Iraqi army, which essentially said, “Fight those bastards? Are you crazy? They can shoot back. A guy could get killed.” And then threw down their arms, stripped themselves naked, and ran like hell.
They also managed to force elements of a far superior fighting force, the Kurdish Peshmerga, to retreat, primarily because the Kurds had run out of ammunition. I don’t care how well trained or brave you are, you’re going to have trouble standing against men armed with guns with only your bare hands. (Lesson for gun grabbers in America here – take note).
An interesting – and as far as I can tell, entirely undiscussed (in western media, at least) – is why the Kurds came to be low on ammo. The answer is a complicated dance involving NATO member (!!!) Turkey, a burgeoning Islamic theocracy, and Iran, the premier Shiite theocracy. Neither favor any sort of autonomy for the Kurds, and so western nations, for a host of murky reasons, have refrained from arming the one solid western ally (besides Israel) in the entire region to a standard that might pose a threat to either Muslim nation.
And now interested western parties are howling up a storm over the “invincible” ISIL forces. If the Sunni regimes could be coerced into ceasing support for them, and the Kurds were given sufficient arms, their temporary ascendancy would be crushed very quickly.
But ISIL’s existence and (temporary) success is useful to far too many players both in the west and the Arab and Muslim worlds, so I suppose it will be permitted to continue. Barack Obama certainly has no intention of destroying it.