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Star Comment: Lethal legacy of Iraq crime

Country fatally destabilised by 2003 invasion

THE fall of Mosul to al-Qaida breakaway the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) is a tragedy for the people of Iraq’s second-largest city.

It seems unlikely that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s call for parliament to declare a state of emergency will make much difference to the course of what is now an all-out war between the fundamentalist terror group and the security forces of his own ramshackle authoritarian regime.

The country has not had a stable government since the criminal 2003 invasion led by the United States and Britain.

Aside from the tens of thousands killed directly by Western troops in Operation Shock and Awe or the 2004 destruction of Fallujah, deliberate US policy aimed at dividing opposition to their military blitzkrieg sparked a sectarian war pitting Sunni against Shia which has hardly abated since.

Isis itself was founded in the wake of the invasion, gaining notoriety under the name Al-Qaida in Iraq after it pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden’s group in 2004.  Its signature tactics — suicide-bombing civilians, assassinating individuals whom it identifies as a threat, killing Shi’ites, Christians and members of other religious groups as a matter of course — have not changed, but its power and reach have grown hugely in the last year.

Isis’s recent rise to prominence is directly linked to the bloody civil war in Syria — a conflict the US and its allies have done all in their power to inflame.

The insurgency in Syria may have grown out of legitimate protests at the autocratic Bashar al-Assad regime, but few traces of “progressive” or “democratic” opposition remain in the country.

A Western-backed bid to arm rebels to the teeth has seen weaponry pour into Syria over the Turkish border. 

Much of the money and equipment has come courtesy of US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and has unsurprisingly ended up in the hands of extremist jihadi militias which now form the backbone of the anti-Assad armies.

Foremost among them is Isis, which experts now estimate controls an area the size of Britain straddling the Syria-Iraq border.

The cold-blooded murder of men, women and children by the group is well-attested and easy to confirm, since its fighters are keen on displaying evidence of their butchery online.

Its seizure of Mosul confirms its dominance throughout the Iraqi province of Nineveh, while the Iraqi regime has proved unable over months of fighting to dislodge it from Fallujah.

But as its name suggests, Isis makes no distinction between the anti-Assad uprising in Syria and its anti-Maliki war in Iraq. Its claim that this is one conflict prompted its breakaway from al-Qaida last year, since the international terror group sought to maintain separate wings in the two countries.

Such is the result of over a decade of the “war on terror” — one of the most ferocious terrorist organisations on record now wields more power than any jihadi outfit in history and fights without regard to national borders.

Tony Blair claims people should “move on” from Iraq. But the chaos and daily bloodshed in the country are the continuing legacy of his shameful invasion.

And an Establishment that insists it has “learned the lessons” of that terrible war continues to promote terror by destabilising countries across the Middle East, from Libya to Syria.

Yesterday’s events in Mosul are a warning to us all. Western interference abroad continues to bear deadly fruit. It is vital that all progressives in this country back the work of organisations such as the Stop the War Coalition in fighting for a break with US foreign policy and a Britain committed to peace rather than the endless nightmare we have inflicted on the Middle East.

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