Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Dark Legacy and a Set of Questions with No Answers; North East Historian JOHN SADLER How a Vacuum That the West Created in Iraq Is Being Filled with Blood

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Dark Legacy and a Set of Questions with No Answers; North East Historian JOHN SADLER How a Vacuum That the West Created in Iraq Is Being Filled with Blood

Article excerpt

Byline: JOHN SADLER

REMEMBER Iraq? Less than a dozen years ago thousands, indeed hundreds of thousands of us, protested against the Bush/ Blair Jihad against Saddam Hussein's regime.

We were right to do so; we now know the concept of war was peddled on a rampart of lies, deception and plain stupidity.

Karl von Clausewitz and I apologise in advance to any of my students, who will be weary of my banging on about On War, but the Prussian gentleman stresses the imperative need for primacy of policy to underpin military operations and here we had none.

If you create a vacuum, chaos will enter and it did. Our bungled intermeddling ended sourly. The hotchpotch regime of Nouri al-Maliki, avowedly Shia in sentiment in a largely Sunni nation, has done little else other than stoke the fires of sectarianism.

With the guiding hand of US advisers withdrawn and his partisan jackals unleashed, al-Maliki has successfully boosted hatred by ruthlessly eliminating Sunni rivals and protestors in a rule of terror that easily equals that of Saddam.

Fertile soil then for the emergence of the 'Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham' (ISIS), whose army led by the murderous Ibrahim al-Badri, better known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, allegedly a PhD student of Baghdad University and currently pretty near Public Enemy Number One status in the 'Who's Who' of world terrorists, has erupted like the wrath of God.

That is precisely how ISIS view themselves and, thus far, they are, or appear to be, winning the battle for Iraq.

Last week the insurgents took Mosul, the country's second city, in a welter of blood and horror; captured soldiers and alleged collaborators have been ruthlessly purged, thousands of government conscripts have deserted, tonnes of warlike stores captured.

All the vast coalition investment in training an Iraqi national army has seemingly crumbled at the first onslaught. Al-Maliki's savage sectarianism is coming back to haunt him. The wider failures of the US/UK strategy are returning to haunt the rest of us.

ISIS has not yet won the battle. Al-Baghdadi's army is a beefed-up militia, swelled by deserters motivated either by dislike of the government or fear of reprisal or both. …

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