The Strategy of Disintegration:
False flags, dirty tricks and the dismemberment of Iraq
The erosion of a target country’s integrity and viability has always been a conscious goal of the Western colonial project. Creating instability and dissatisfaction with existing reality was a necessary prerequisite to "tame” and then integrate native peoples into the dominant hierarchical model. Today, of course, we are told that colonialism is a thing of the past. The leading nations of the international community no longer seek to enslave their less fortunate neighbours, but rather pursue policies of world benefaction - within the limits imposed by healthy competition, of course. When this
miraculous conversion took place we are not told, but perhaps it occurred incrementally, parallel to the increasing divide between the world’s rich and poor. In any case, a casual glance at the state of the Muslim world is enough to shatter this foolish delusion.
As Iraqi society descends further and further into mayhem, comedians, satirists and commentators of all kinds have made great hay from the supposed incompetence and stupidity of our leaders. But as the Canadian Spectator suggested recently, if it should happen that the United States is not run by buffoons, "one must conclude that chaos, impoverishment and civil war in the Muslim world…far from being the unintended consequences, are precisely the objectives of U.S. policy.” (1)
As with 9/11, the trigger event for the War on Terror, incompetence is the preferred explanation for the nightmare scenario in Iraq today. Though counterintuitive to the domesticated populations of the West, a plan to deliberately fragment Iraq along ethnic lines is amply confirmed by the published record. Resuscitating earlier Zionist schemes, the US Council on Foreign Relations recently called for the dissolution of the "unnatural Iraqi state.” (2) On the grounds of its ethnic diversity, Iraq is said to be a false, artificial construct, a product of arbitrary colonial decisions in the early
20th century. It is a judgment that could apply to many of the world’s countries, and yet the theme is being enthusiastically adopted by reams of ‘experts’ who would never dream of questioning state sovereignty in Quebec, the Basque Country or Northern Ireland. In typical fashion, policy analyst Michael Klare recently dismissed Iraq as an "invented country…to facilitate their exploitation of oil in the region [the British] created the fictitious "Kingdom of Iraq” by patching together three provinces of the former Ottoman Empire…and by parachuting in a fake king from what later became Saudi
Arabia.” (3) Accepting the Bush Administration’s bogus rationale for the invasion, Klare ascribed Sunni resistance to the desire for a bigger share of oil revenues in the future partition of the country. Missing is any idea that resistance extends beyond "Sunnis” or could be motivated by Iraqi nationalism or the need for self-determination.
Ultimately, the ease with which Western academics casually decide to reshape the countries of their choice owes itself to the continuing legacy of Orientalism. In classic nineteenth century style, the chattering classes suggest that Iraq, despite its five thousand-year history, is now incapable of managing itself, and so its fate must be decided by outside powers. A country that held together in 1991 through six weeks of the most intensive bombing campaign in history, (which according to the UN left Iraq in a "pre-industrial age”) and continued to survive through 12 years of the most complete
and devastating sanctions ever imposed on any nation is now blithely consigned to history by concerned Western experts. To bolster their case, the myth of ancient sectarian hatreds, a staple of the ‘humanitarian intervention’ crowd, is rehashed and fed on a daily basis by journalists who neither question the authorship of "sectarian” attacks nor report the view of ordinary Iraqis, who blame the Occupation army and its puppet government for the orchestrated chaos.
The preparations for the occupation of Iraq began almost immediately after the first assault in 1991. With the imposition of no-fly-zones in the north and south of the country and the western media already dividing the country into three mutually antagonistic regions, the stage was set. The first glimpse of the organized plan to destroy Iraqi society came with the organized sacking of museums (170,000 pieces lost) and burning of libraries following the fall of the regime in 2003. The looting had two aspects, one indiscriminate and spontaneous and a second, in which organized trafficking
network looted pieces from Uruk, Nimrud, Niniveh, and the Nabi Jarjis Mosque. The theft required a prepared, logistical infrastructure, whilst the subsequent sale of the booty was facilitated by the systematic destruction of archives, inventories and museum records (4) Later, when the Occupation forces’ first chief, General Jay Garner, recommended maintaining the Iraqi military and creating a coalition government, defense secretary Rumsfeld removed him. His successor, Paul Bremer, went on to dismantle the army and other key national institutions, as well as ‘losing’ some $9 billion of Iraq’s
oil revenues along the way. The reconstituted puppet army was formed almost exclusively from the Kurdish and Shia communities, a move specifically designed to incubate sectarian tensions. Meanwhile, anonymous assassins began targeting Iraq’s academic community, eventually provoking a huge ‘brain drain’ from the country and further debilitating the country’s capacity to recover.
When the armed opposition groups became active in the country, there then followed a string of events bearing the hallmarks of undercover operations designed to stoke up sectarian conflict and taint the Iraqi Resistance. What follows is a brief summary of the most suspicious incidents.
UN targeted, after 12 years in Iraq
When a truck bomb tore through U.N. headquarters four months into the occupation, killing special envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello and 19 others, pro-consul Bremer suggested two possible culprits: "Saddam loyalists or foreign insurgents”. The interim government’s Ahmed Chalabi, however, had received prior notice of the attack the week before. Chalabi had been warned that a "soft target” was to be attacked, although it would be "neither the Coalition Authority nor coalition troops”. But the UN, whose security had been withdrawn that day, was never warned. (5)
Kerbala and Baghdad
By November 2003, with the guerilla campaign inflicting heavy losses on US forces, the media and interim governing authority began a steady drumbeat of sectarian brainwashing. After weeks of scare mongering about a civil war, coordinated explosions left 143 Shia civilians dead in Kerbala and Baghdad. The blame fell on ‘Al Qaeda’, but journalist Robert Fisk asked the obvious question: "If a violent Sunni group wished to evict the Americans from Iraq…why would it want to turn the Shia population…60 per cent of Iraqis, against them?” No answer was provided, and the senseless attacks increased.
In early February 2004 American authorities claimed to have intercepted a message from Iraq asking ‘Al Qaeda’ for help in fomenting a civil war. Almost immediately, as if to underline the message, an explosion killed 50 Shias in the small town of Iskandariya. "Terrorists spark fear of civil war,” announced The Independent, contradicting the town’s residents who, without exception, attributed the blast to an American air strike. "They heard a helicopter overhead, and the whoosh of a missile just before the blast.” The blast itself left a crater three metres deep, more consistent with a missile
than a car bomb (7)
‘Al Qaeda in Iraq’
As with the parent organization, nothing about this group rings true. Until 2004 ‘Al Qaeda,’ a Sunni-only set up, had never uttered a word against Shias. But as the Iraqi Resistance campaign gained unstoppable momentum, the reportedly deceased Jordanian militant Abu Musab Zarqawi suddenly resurfaced. Calling for war against the ‘infidel’ Shia community, he went on to wage a parallel campaign characterized more by gratuitous attacks on civilians than by ejecting the US from Iraq. In the following years, wherever the US unleashed massive assaults in Iraq, Zarqawi was conveniently ‘discovered’ to
be hiding. The November 2004 assault on Fallujah was waged with white phosphorous and left at least 6,000 dead beneath the ruins, and yet US surveillance was so sharp that Zarqawi, with his one wooden leg, was apparently observed fleeing on the first day! Amongst Iraqis, the all-purpose Zarqawi was referred to as a kind of mobile WMD able to appear wherever required. His story remained incredible right up to the end, the released photo evidence showing the lightly bruised body of a man killed with a 500lb bomb. (8)
Nick Berg, Margaret Hassan and the Abu Ghraib scandal
By April of 2004 the game was well and truly up. Fallujah became the first major town to come under the open control of the Resistance. Simultaneously, US repression provoked an uprising by the Shia Mehdi Army and the US found itself waging a war on two fronts. Massive shows of inter-faith solidarity ensued with 200,000 Sunnis and Shias on April 9th gathering for collective prayers in Baghdad’s largest Sunni mosque, where the lead preacher derided the possibility of civil war as an American pretext for extending the occupation. The US faced a chorus of protest around the world as it bludgeoned
Fallujah from the air in a desperate attempt to retake the city. Then, photographs of systematic torture in the Abu Ghraib detention center were released to the press, finishing off what little credibility the US retained in world opinion. Detracting from the negative publicity, however, previously unknown militant groups began kidnapping foreign nationals and releasing gruesome videos in which the kidnap victims were frequently beheaded on camera when the kidnappers’ demands were not met.
The first victim was businessman Nick Berg, in an alleged ‘retaliation’ for Abu Ghraib. The killing, said to be the work of al Zarqawi, came under scrutiny when independent media questioned the execution tape’s veracity. It was determined that the video had first been uploaded to the Internet from London, and after examination of the images by a Mexican forensic surgeon, many observers agreed that the man shown in the film was already a corpse when beheaded. (9)
Anglo-Irish aid worker Margaret Hassan had lived in Iraq for 30 years and dedicated her life to the welfare of Iraqis in need, fighting tirelessly against UN sanctions and opposing the Anglo-American invasion. So when she was kidnapped on her way to work in the autumn of 2004, Iraqis were incredulous. Spontaneous public information campaigns were started and a poster showing Mrs Hassan holding a sick Iraqi child appeared on billboards across the capital. "Margaret Hassan is truly a daughter of Iraq,” it read. Patients of Iraqi hospitals took to the streets in protest against the hostage takers,
and prominent Resistance groups, even including the phantom Zarqawi, called for her release.
Her kidnappers did not issue any specific demands, but in the captivity video Hassan pleaded for the withdrawal of British troops. In previous cases, the groups had identified themselves and used the videos to make their demands. But Margaret Hassan’s kidnapping was different from the start. This group used no specific name and no banners or flags to identify itself. In their videos appeared none of the usual armed and hooded men or Koranic recitations. Other abducted women, Robert Fisk noted, were released "when their captors recognised their innocence. But not Hassan, even though she spoke
fluent Arabic and could explain her work to her captors in their own language.”
A video soon surfaced purporting to show her execution and an Iraqi man, Mustafa Salman al-Jubouri, was later sentenced to life imprisonment by a Baghdad court for aiding and abetting the kidnappers. To this date, no group has ever claimed responsibility. (10)
The ‘Salvador Option’
Long after piles of corpses began appearing by the roadsides, victims of anonymous assassins, Newsweek magazine reported on a Pentagon plan to use counterinsurgency death squads to eliminate Iraqi Resistance fighters and their supporters. The so-called ‘Salvador Option’, named after a similar campaign in Central America in the 1980s, was confirmed by later reports of Interior ministry involvement in the burgeoning death squads. As the victims mounted, the corporate media filtered the story through its angle of Sunni fanatics targeting innocent Shia civilians. But the facts showed a different
story. According to a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the bulk of resistance attacks (75%) were on Coalition Forces, far exceeding that of any other category in their survey (with attacks organized by quantity, type of target, and numbers killed and wounded). In sharp contrast to the corporate media’s picture, civilian targets comprised a mere 4.1% of attacks. After 300,000 Baghdad Shias staged the largest popular demonstrations since 1958, M. Junaid Alam asked: "Would such a massive number of Shiites have shown up to protest the occupation if they thought that
most of the Sunni-based armed resistance, also opposed to the occupation, was trying to kill them?” (11)
2005 saw a spectacular rise in the use of car bombs, many directed against innocent civilian targets. Though the Zarqawi network was said to have no more than about a thousand men in Iraq, it apparently had an endless supply of personnel ready to sacrifice themselves for the holy war. Other accounts, however, suggest a different explanation.
In May 2005, former Iraqi exile Imad Khadduri, reported how a driver whose license had been confiscated in Baghdad was questioned for half an hour at an American military camp, informed that there were no charges against him, and then directed to the al-Khadimiya police station to retrieve his license. "The driver did leave in a hurry, but was soon alarmed with a feeling that his car was…carrying a heavy load, and he also became suspicious of a low flying helicopter that kept hovering overhead, as if trailing him. He stopped the car and … found nearly 100 kilograms of explosives hidden in the
back seat…the only feasible explanation for this incident is that the car was indeed booby trapped by the Americans and intended for the al-Khadimiya Shiite district of Baghdad. The helicopter was monitoring his movement and witnessing the anticipated ‘hideous attack by foreign elements’”. (According to Khadurri, the scenario was repeated again in Mosul, when a driver’s car broke down on the way to the police station where he was sent to reclaim his license. The mechanic he then turned to discovered the spare tire to be laden with explosives.) (12)
In the same month, 64-year-old farmer Haj Haidar, who was taking his tomato load from Hilla to Baghdad, was stopped at an American checkpoint and had his pick-up thoroughly searched. Allowed to go on his way, his 11 year-old grandson then told him he saw one of the American soldiers placing a grey melon-sized object amidst the tomato containers. Realizing the vehicle was his only means of work, Haidar fought his initial impulse to run and removed the object from his truck, placing it in a nearby ditch. He later learnt that it had in fact exploded, killing part of a passing shepherd’s flock of
At this point, legendary Iraqi blogger ‘Riverbend’ reported that many of the supposed suicide bombings were in fact remotely detonated car bombs or time bombs. She related how a man was arrested for allegedly having shot at a National Guardsman after huge blasts struck in west Baghdad. But according the man’s neighbours, far from having shot anyone, he had seen "an American patrol passing through the area and pausing at the bomb site minutes before the explosion. Soon after they drove away, the bomb went off and chaos ensued. He ran out of his house screaming to the neighbors and bystanders
that the Americans had either planted the bomb or seen the bomb and done nothing about it. He was promptly taken away.” (14)
The SAS in Basra
In Basra on September 19th 2005, suspicious Iraqi police stopped undercover British soldiers in a Toyota Cressida. The two men then opened fire, killing one policeman and wounding another. Eventually captured, they were identified by the BBC as members of the SAS elite special forces. The soldiers were in wigs and dressed as Arabs and their car was packed with explosives and towing equipment. (15) Fattah al-Shaykh, a member of the Iraqi National Assembly, told Al-Jazeera TV that the car was meant to explode in the centre of Basra’s popular market. Before his thesis could be confirmed, however,
the British army’s tanks flattened the local prison cell and freed their sinister operatives.
The phony ‘hostage crisis’
Plans to orchestrate sectarian chaos became more obvious in the Occupation’s third year. In one incident, the Baghdad police told commanders of the Shia Mehdi Army that gunmen near the village of Madain were holding 150 Shia civilians hostage. When the militia sent fighters to the area to negotiate their release, they were fired upon, losing at least 25 men. "I think it was a set-up; the fire was too heavy,” said an aide said to the Mehdi militia, adding the attackers used snipers and heavy machineguns. (16) Local townspeople were unaware of the supposed hostage crisis and no hostages were
ever discovered there.
"Could it be a good thing?” Samarra and the ‘Civil War’
Although the incessant sectarian brainwashing was clearly having an effect, Iraqis continued to dismiss the idea of a civil war. (17) In the wake of the destruction of Samarra’s Golden Mosque, however, the scale of the killing in Iraq rose sharply. Those responsible for this critical attack wore Iraqi National Guard uniforms according to the mosque guards. Joint forces of Iraqi ING and Americans, patrolling the surrounding area the whole while, went on to assist a militia attack on a Sunni mosque in a pre-programmed ‘response’. The response of most ordinary Iraqis, however, was quite different,
According to Sami Ramadani "None of the mostly spontaneous protest marches were directed at Sunni mosques. Near the bombed shrine itself, local Sunnis joined the city's minority Shias to denounce the occupation and accuse it of sharing responsibility for the outrage. In Kut, a march led by Sadr's Mahdi army burned US and Israeli flags. In Baghdad's Sadr City, the anti-occupation march was massive.” (18) The Western media, however, could now seize upon each and every incident as evidence of an irreparable social disintegration. Columnist Daniel Pipes approvingly observed that sectarian conflict
would reduce attacks on US forces as Iraqis fought each other. His comments were then reflected on Fox News with onscreen captions that read: "Upside To Civil War?” and "All-Out Civil War in Iraq: Could It Be a Good Thing?” (19)
History as mystery
The key to justifying the horrendous colonial assault on Iraq was the non-stop manufacture of lies. Zionist cheerleader Thomas Freidman had likened Saddam’s Iraq to an ethnically segregated Alabama in the era of lynchings, where Shia and Kurds held sub human status. That the Minister of Health was Kurdish, that the regime had two Shia Prime ministers (Sadoun Humadi and Mohammed Al-Zubaidi), or that the Vice President was a Christian, never intruded on Freidman’s ‘analysis’. In fact, Iraqis rarely asked about the religion or ethnicity of the leaders and functionaries they reported to. It was
simply not a matter of concern for them.
Meanwhile, for the ‘human rights’ brigade, propagandists such as The Independent’s Johann Hari would hash out a two-dimensional caricature of a country in which a hellish regime murdered, each year, 70,000 of its own citizens (without anyone really noticing). In spite of the Ba’ath government’s admitted crimes, however, a visitor could pass through Baghdad in the 1990s without coming across tanks, car bombs, kidnappings, air strikes, fuel shortages (!) power cuts and vast detention gulags. And whatever the scale of Saddam’s crimes, they pale next to those of the Occupation. As Mike Whitney has
said "Saddam had no intention of dismantling the government, the army, the civic institutions; of looting the museums and killing the teachers and intellectuals, of ethnic cleansing the Christians and the Sunnis, and inciting violence between the sects. Saddam had no plan to increase malnutrition, to reduce the flow of clean water, to cut off the electricity, to remove the social-safety net, to increase the poverty and unemployment, or to set Iraqi against Iraqi in a vicious struggle for survival. Saddam did not abide by the neoconservative theory of "creative destruction,” which deliberately
plunged an entire nation into chaos destroying the fabric of Iraqi society and leaving the people to flock to militias for safety.” (20)
The truth is that the approaching peak of global oil production threatens to fatally weaken the US power bloc. (21) Hence, Saddam’s Iraq, an independent, oil-rich state in the most geostrategically important region on earth could not be allowed to survive. But the intractable resistance to the Occupation has obligated the US to turn to its contingency plan (officially, of course, it didn’t have one) In this plan, something similar to Oded Yinon’s tripartite balkanization of the country is being thrashed out. (22) Existing independent states are to be broken up and replaced by a cluster of weak
and pliant protectorates. The particulars may be very different, but the engineered breakup of Yugoslavia undoubtedly serves as the model for this dismemberment. "In the 1990s” wrote Diana Johnstone, "the US-led International Community was no longer interested in state-building. Nation-state deconstruction was more compatible with economic globalization measures.” (23) To this end, in Iraq as in Yugoslavia, the US has allied itself with "state-splitters” and sectarian bigots, all the while publicly claiming to uphold national sovereignty. In case of any misunderstanding, neocon ideologues have
clarified matters: ‘natural’ sectarian tensions, they say, will inevitably arise in the absence of a repressive state to subdue them. Therefore, under their benevolent guidance, Iraq must be allowed to devolve into its ethnic components.
After the 1991 bombing of Iraq, and George Bush Sr.’s announcement of a ‘New World Order’ of American hegemony, foreign policy forums effectively proclaimed the nation-state obsolete. In fact, the global imposition of the Western model of development after WWII had already ended the traditional independence of the State. The ‘new’ ideology was simply a recognition of facts on the ground. After the Soviet collapse, celebrated advocates of the anti-nation-state ideology predicted an approaching ‘End of History’, which would see all the world’s peoples integrate into a globalized, urban,
capitalist, consumer lifestyle. Thus, the "chaotic diversity of cultures, values and beliefs that lay behind the conflicts of the past” would be removed in a general process of political and cultural homogenization. (24) It is still too early to predict the end of this delirious vision, but across the world, people are opting to forge their own future, increasingly deaf to the advice of the super elites. In Iraq, consciousness of the big picture is greater than anywhere. Thus, the planned breakdown into generalized sectarian conflict has not materialized. As the armed resistance intensifies
its struggle against the US and openly confronts the Salafi Jihadist terrorists (25), a pendant has become extremely popular amongst Iraqis. Seen on the streets and on television, anchorwomen wear it while reading the news. The pendant has the form of Iraq.
When TV stations showed Kalashnikov-weilding teenagers going toe-to-toe with the world’s most powerful army in Fallujah, the images evoked a struggle of epochal significance. But alongside the armed resistance, journalists, intellectuals, trade unionists and Iraqis of all walks of life are, each on their own terrain, facing off against military-corporate rule. However we decide to contribute, it is incumbent on all people of conscience to join them.
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
"Saqueo a la Arqueologia” Clio: El Pasado Presente Madrid, #.20, June 2003
Asia Times, 20 August 2003
"Terrorists spark fear of civil war as 50 die in car bomb” The Independent, Wednesday 11th February 2004
"Does the Resistance Target Civilians? According to US Intelligence, Not Really” M. Junaid Alam Left Hook April 18, 2005
16. Omar al-Ibadi, (Reuters) Oct 28
In Riverbend’s words: "Iraqis have intermarried and mixed as Sunnis and Shia for centuries. Many of the larger Iraqi tribes are a complex and intricate weave of Sunnis and Shia. We don't sit around pointing fingers at each other and trying to prove who is a Muslim and who isn't and who deserves compassion and who deserves brutalization.” Regarding the lies about ethnically-based oppression by the Ba’ath, see: http://www.iraqresistance.net/article.php3?id_article=372
18. Sami Ramadani, Friday February 24, 2006 The Guardian
21. "Crossing the Rubicon”, Michael C. Ruppert, New Society Publishers, 2004
22. Oded Yinon "A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s”
23. "Fool’s Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions”, Diana Johnstone, Pluto Press 2002
As N. Hildyard once observed: "Scratch below the surface of inter-ethnic conflict, and the shallowness and
deceptiveness of ‘blood’ or ‘culture’ explanations are soon revealed. ‘Tribal hatred’ (though a real and genuine
emotion for some) emerges as a product not of ‘nature’ or of a primordial ‘culture’, but of a complex web of politics,
economics, history, psychology and a struggle for identity.”
N. Hildyard, Briefing 11 – Blood and Culture: Ethnic Conflict and the Authoritarian Right, The Cornerhouse. 1999
24. "The March of The Monoculture” Helena Norberg-Hodge, The Ecologist, Volume 29, No.3 May/June 1999
25. "Anbar Revenge Brigade Makes Progress in the Fight Against al-Qaeda”
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