The US Invasion of Iraq
With the attack on Iraq in 2003, the United States overturned the Sunni Arab minority of Sadddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein was a socialist dictator who was governing Iraq by oppressing the Arab Shia (Shiite) majority, and also by oppressing the Kurds of Iraq. When the Americans overturned Saddam Hussein, the Shia Arab majority of Iraq became the dominant political force, and the ex-people of Saddam Hussein became the leaders of ISIS in Iraq, and many of them also became dominant figures of ISIS in Syria.
Remember that during the previous decades the Alawite minority of Syria was running Syria, and therefore the Sunni Arabs of Syria were not the ones to hold the top positions in the Syrian public sector and in the Syrian army. On the contrary, the Sunnis of Iraq were running Iraq, and they were holding the top positions of the public sector and the Iraqi army, and they were more qualified to hold top positions in ISIS. For more details about what happened in Iraq see “The Truth about the US Invasion of Iraq in 2003”, and “Saddamm Hussein : The Father of ISIS in Iraq”.
1) “The Truth about the US Invasion of Iraq in 2003”.
2) “Saddamm Hussein : The Father of ISIS in Iraq”
To understand the war for the oil and natural gas of Syria and Iraq it is imperative to have a basic understanding of the region’s geography, and also a basic knowledge of the main ethnic and religious divisions of these two countries. Therefore, before addressing the issue of the civil war of the Shia Muslims of Iraq, I will use some standard maps that depict the geography and ethnic divisions of Iraq and Syria.
The first map shows the main Iraqi divisions i.e. the Shia Arabs (green) of Iraq, the Sunni Arabs (yellow) of Iraq, and the Kurds (blue) of Iraq. The Kurds are normally Sunnis, but they act on their Kurdish identity, and not on their religious identity. The white-yellow part of the map shows the Iraqi desert, with few Sunni elements. As you can see the Sunni elements are positioned along the rivers Tiger and Euphrates.
Map of Iraq : Shia Arabs (green), Sunni Arabs (yellow), Kurds (blue), Iraqi desert with moderate Sunni elements (white)
The second map shows the main divisions of Syria i.e. Alawite Arabs (green) of Syria, Sunni Arabs (yellow) of Syria, and the Kurds (khaki) of Syria. Again the white-yellow part shows the Syrian desert, which like the Iraqi deserts has some Sunni elements. As you can see the Sunni elements of Syria are mainly positioned across the Euphrates river.
Map of Syria Sunni Arabs (yellow), Kurds (khaki), Alawite Arabs (green), the Syrian desert with some Sunni elements (white)
Speaking of deserts, I must also add the map of Jordan. Jordan is a predominantly Sunni Arab country, and deserts (orange) account for most of her territory. The Arab Peninsula (Saudi Arabia) is also a desert. The Southern part of Israel is also a desert (Negev), and obviously the Sinai Peninsula is a desert.
The Map of Jordan
Actually most of the Middle East is a desert, together with some mountains, with the exception of the fertile crescent i.e. Mesopotamia (Tiger and Euphrates rivers), the coasts of East Mediterranean Sea, and the Nile River in Egypt. Before the age of oil the people of the Middle East were killing each other for water. Sahara, the largest desert in the world, covers most of the part of North Africa. Which parts of the Middle East are deserts and mountains are important, because they might provide a physical barrier for the construction of pipelines, or make these pipelines more vulnerable to sabotage.
Map of Deserts
At the following map you can see a night view of Syria before the war. You can see that most of the lights are at the Mediterranean coasts and across the Euphrates River.
Map The Syrian Desert
At the following map you can see the Iraqi desert (South-West Iraq) and the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan at the northern part of the country, and of course Mesopotamia.
Map Desert of Iraq
The Shia-Sunni Pipelines
All these maps are very important for the understanding of the oil and natural gas wars of the Middle East, but also for the internal conflict of Shia Iraq. Keep in mind that the war in Syria is very different from the war in Iraq. The war in Iraq happened because the Americans wanted to overturn Saddam Hussein, one of their bitter rivals, who had supported many terrorist attacks against them, in order to bring to power the Shia majority of Iraq, which was oppressed by Saddam Hussein. The Shias of Iraq saw the Americans as liberators. By overturning Saddam the Americans also strengthened the Kurds of Iraq, who are another American ally.
On the other hand, the war in Syria had nothing to do with the Americans, but with the wish of the Turks and the Arabs to construct the Arab-Turkish natural gas pipelines (Qatar-Turkey), through the Sunni parts of Syria, and in order to prevent Iran from reaching the Mediterranean Sea through Iraq and Syria. I say that because people forget that the Americans did not intervene in Syria. The rich in oil Iraq is very important for the Americans and the Chinese, while the poor in oil and gas Syria is not very important for them. But Syria is very important for the Arabs, the Iranians, the Turks and the Russians, because she can be used to export Iranian oil and gas to the Mediterranean Sea, or to export Arab oil and gas to Turkey and Europe.
Map Sunni VS Shia Pipelines
I have uploaded many posts about the Sunni-Shia pipeline war, and I do not want to further discuss the issue. Instead I want to write about the internal rivalry of Shia Iraq, and about how geography shapes this rivalry. As you can read at the following Anadolu article, many American analysts expect a conflict among the Shia Muslims of Iraq. Note that Anadolu is one of the main state-owned news agencies of Turkey. See Anadolu “US expert warns of conflict among Shia groups in Iraq”, April 2016.
As you can read at the Anadolu article, a very important Shia (Shiite) cleric of Iraq i.e. Muqtada al Sadr, is no longer supporting the Shia leadership of Iraq, and he wants Iraq to be governed by technocrats instead. Obviously technocrats will pay more attention to the economic fundamentals and not to religious factors i.e. who is a Sunni and who is a Shia Muslim. Al-Sadr comes from a very big Shia family of Iraq, and some members of his family were even killed by the Sunni regime of Saddam Hussein. You can read many articles about the rivalry and the internal conflict of Shia Iraq. See for example Al Monitor “The collapse of Iraq’s Shiite alliance”, April 2016.
In the past, Sadr had been connected to Iran, but now he wants better relations with the Sunni Arabs of Iraq, with the Kurds of Iraq, and also with Turkey. See Al Monitor “Sadr Allies With Sunnis to Challenge Maliki”, January 2013.
Given that Sadr played a major role in the Sunni-Shia war of Iraq, it might sounds strange to hear him calling for better relations with the Sunnis. Moreover, many of his supporters want Iran out of Iraq. Remember that Iran was traditionally supporting the Iraqi Shias and the Iraqi Kurds against Saddam Hussein, in order to destabilize Iraq, because Iraq and Saddam Hussein was on of Iran’s main rivals.
What is important, and what you should remember, is not the name of Sadr, because tomorrow Sadr might hold different views. The important thing is how geography shapes the energy policy and options of Shia Iraq, and therefore the unity of Shia Iraq. There is a lot of discussion about the Shia and Sunni pipelines. The Syrian Arab Alawites are a version of Shia Islam, and if the Araba Alawites of Syria and the Arab Shias of Iraq are in power, and they emphasize their religion i.e. Shia Islam, and not their ethnicity i.e. Arabism, they would ally with Iran, and the Shia pipelines would go ahead i.e. Iran-Iraq-Syria, while the Sunni pipelines would not go ahead (Qatar-Turkey).
If on the other hand the Shia Arabs of Iraq, and the Alawite Arabs of Syria, emphasize their Arabism and not their religon, they will ally themselves with the Turks, the Saudis and the Qataris, and the Sunni Pipelines will go ahead (Qatar-Turkey), and not the Shia pipelines. There are also the Sunni-Shia pipelines i.e. Shia Iraq-Sunni Iraq-Sunni Syria-Turkey.
Map Sunni-Shiite Pipelines
You can see that there are many combinations of Sunni pipelines, or Shia pipelines, or Sunni-Shia pipelines, and I have only included a few of them on the map. For example two Shia-Sunni pipeline that are already running are the Iran-Turkey pipeline, and the Azerbaijan-Turkey pipeline. Note that Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq and Bahrain are the only Muslim countries with Shiite majorities. Actually Turkey and Iran are talking about enhancing their Shia-Sunni pipelines in order to send Iranian natural gas to Europe through Turkey.
Table Shia Muslims
The Civil War of Shia Islam
To analyze the violence among the Shias of Iraq one must answer one question. Is it better for the Shias of Iraq to cooperate with Iran, and support the Shia pipelines (Iran-Iraq-Syria), or is it better for them to cooperate with the Arabs and the Turks, and support the Sunni pipelines (Qatar-Turkey) and the Shia-Sunni pipelines (Shia Iraq – Sunni Iraq – Sunni Syria – Turkey)?
The Shia pipeline (Iran-Iraq-Syria) supposedly has Russia’s support, but the truth is that Russia does not want any pipeline of the Middle East to reach Europe, because it would hurt the Russian exports to Europe. For Russia the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline is a necessary evil in order to block the Qatar-Turkey pipeline.
The Sunni pipeline (Qatar-Turkey) has the support of United States, or it used to have the support of United States, because now it is difficult to say whether the United States is closer to Iran or closer Turkey, due to the American-Turkish rivalry in Syria over the issue of ISIS and the Kurds. The Americans were supporting the Kurds against ISIS in Syria, and the Turks were supporting ISIS against the Kurds. Now we see the Turks changing their stance towards ISIS, and I guess that will ease a bit the relationship between Turkey and United States.
In the initial stages of the Arab Spring we saw the Shias of Iraq aligning themselves with Iran, which was a normal thing, given Iran has been traditionally supporting the Iraqi Shias against the Sunnis of Iraq. But now the Iraqi Shias are in power, and they need the Americans and the Iranians only as long as they have to fight the Sunnis of Iraq, who are supported by the Turks and the Arabs of the Gulf.
But if the Iraqi Shias were to normalize their relations with the Sunnis, and therefore the Turks and the Arabs would stop supporting the Sunnis of Iraq against the Shias of Iraq, the Iraqi Shias would no longer need the Iranians and the Americans. And then the Iraqi Shias could align themselves with Turkey, in order to send oil and natural gas to Turkey through the Sunni parts of Iraq and Syria, and enjoy Turkey’s military protection. Remember that Shia Iraq is rich in oil, and therefore it is a natural competitor of Iran, while Turkey has no oil and gas, and therefore is a natural buyer of Iraqi oil and gas. That’s the reason Turkey had relatively good relations with Saddam Hussein. They were also hunting the Kurds of Iraq and Turkey together.
Moreover the Iraqi Shias do not need Iran to access the Persian Gulf, because they already have access to the Persian Gulf. The whole idea of the Iraq-Iran alliance was that Iraq would allow to reach the Mediterranean Sea through Iraq, and in exchange Iran would allow Iraq to use the Mediterranean Sea through its influence in Syria. Other than that the two countries are natural competitors in the oil and gas markets. Therefore if the Shias of Iraq do not thing they have a chance of reaching the Mediterranean Sea, they would no longer have a motive to cooperate with Iran against the Sunnis. Instead they could use Turkey to reach Europe.
Obviously if the Iraqi Shias and the Turks reach an agreement, the Russians and the Iranians will use the Kurds of Turkey and Syria to block them. The Russians and the Iranians could also use the argument that Syria is a single country, and a traditional Russian and Iranian ally, and therefore one of their allies i.e. Assad, should govern Syria. That would be a problem for the Iraqi Shias, if they were to align themselves with Turkey, but there is no scenario without problems. Obviously the Turks and the Arabs would say that democratic ideals require elections in Syria, hoping that with elections the Sunni majority of Syria would increase their influence over Syria.
The Russians could also ask for a federal Syria, which would be designed in a way that would not permit the construction of competing to Gazprom pipelines, either because of ethnic barriers i.e. the Kurds and the Alawites of Syria, or because of physical barriers i.e. mountains and deserts. See “Russia Wants a Federal Syria”
Map of Kurdistan
Even though I have no idea about what will eventually happen inside Shia Iraq, I can say for sure that there will be competing forces. There will be the Shia Iraqis who will call for the traditional alliance with Iran, and there will be the Shia Iraqis who will call for normalization with the Sunni world. I can also say for sure that Iran will arm the Shia forces that will support the traditional alliance with Iran.
The Americans will also have a motive to cooperate with Iran in Iraq, because the Iraqi Sunnis i.e. the ex-people of Saddam Hussein, always hated the Americans, and after the Americans overturned them in 2003 I would expect them to hate them even more. Therefore the Iraqi Shias that would call for normalization with the Iraqi Sunnis would probably be anti-American. As you can read at the following Debka article, the Americans and the Iranians are having secret talks about how to resolve the conflict inside Shia Iraq. See Debka “US, Iran holding secret talks to stabilize situation in Baghdad: sources”, May 2016.
Note that if the Turks and the Arabs of the Persian Gulf want to have some American support in Iraq, they would have to support Sunni forces in Iraq that are not anti-American. The problem is that I do not know if there are non anti-American Sunni forces in Iraq. The point is that as long as the leaders of the Iraqi Sunnis are the ex-people of Saddam Hussein, and they are so strongly anti-American, the Americans will have a motive to cooperate with Iran in Iraq. Also note that the United States have improved their relationship with India, and has hurt its relationship with Pakistan, and given the traditional links of Pakistan with terrorism, Pakistan might supports terrorists against the United States, either in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, or other places. The United States are already accusing Pakistan of supporting terrorists against the United States. See “Pakistan – Osama bin Laden”.
An important article about the internal conflict of Shia Iraq is Al Arabiya’s “Turkey and Iraq convulse: Bad news for Iran”, May 2016. Al Arabiya is one of the largest Saudi newspapers. The article says that many people expect al Sadr to support Iran, because of the ties he had in the past with Iran, but according to Al Arabiya they are missing Sadr’s pro-Arab rhetoric.
If Sadr’s rhetoric is pro-Arab (nationalist), instead of pro-Shia (religius), it means he will support the alliance of the Arab Shiites of Iraq with Turkey, and he will support the Shia-Sunni pipelines (Iraq-Turkey). If his rhetoric is pro-Shia (religious), and not pro-Arab (nationalist), it means he will support the alliance with Iran, and the Shia-Alawite pipelines (Iran-Iraq-Syria). I cannot predict whether the pro-Shia or the pro-Arab rhetoric will prevail in Shia Iraq, but I can see why many analysts believe there will be a Shia civil war.
Also note that Iraq has been traditionally cooperating with Jordan, because Iraq needed Jordan to reach the Red Sea, in order to avoid the Persian Gulf, which was controlled by two rivals of Iraq in the oil markets i.e. Iran and Saudi Arabia. Moreover Syria was an Iranian ally and an enemy of Iraq.
Jordan not only supported Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), while Syria supported Iran, but Jordan also supported Iraq in the Iraq-Kuwait war of 1990, which infuriated Saudi Arabia and United States. Note that even though the Iraq of Saddam Hussein was a pro-Soviet country and Jordan was a pro-American country, the two countries were close allies because Jordan needed the Iraqi oil, and Iraq needed Jordan’s access to the Red Sea. I mention Jordan because the Shias of Iraq need the Sunnis of Iraq if they want to reach Jordan and the Red Sea through Jordan.
Saudi Arabia also needed Jordan to export oil through Jordan and Lebanon to the Mediterranean Sea (Trans-Arabian Pipeline).
Map Trans-Arabian Pipeline
Note that Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Lebanon were constantly fighting about transit fees, and there were also many terrorist attacks on the pipeline, I guess organized by Syria, Iraq and Egypt, and in 1976 Saudi Arabia stopped exporting oil to the Mediterranean. Only the part Saudi Arabia-Jordan was left operational, but after the Jordanian support to Saddam Hussein in the Iraq-Kuwait war, the Saudis cut off supplies to Jordan to punish the Jordanians.
Note that the super tankers made oil transport much easier and cheaper, and that’s why Saudi Arabia could abandon the Trans-Arabian Pipeline. Things are more complicated with natural gas, because the ships that carry natural gas are much more expensive than traditional tankers. Moreover LNG requires an expensive procedure in order to liquefy it and then regasify it. Therefore the rule is that natural gas pipelines are much more important than oil pipelines.
From all the above one can assume that there are many reasons that would make the Shias of Iraq to consider changing sides and aligning themselves with the Turks and the Arabs. The main problem is that Iran has a lot of influence in Shia Iraq, and also that the Shias of Iraq have been fighting with the Sunnis of Iraq for many years, and therefore it would require some time to reconcile the two sides. But if the Turks, the Qataris and the Saudis support the moderate Sunni elements of Iraq, the second problem would be somewhat easier to overcome.
“US expert warns of conflict among Shia groups in Iraq”, April 2016
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The storming of the Iraqi parliament by supporters of Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr has the potential to trigger an armed conflict among Shia groups, former U.S. envoy to Syria Robert Ford told Anadolu Agency Saturday.
Certainly it means two things,” Ford said. “It means, number one, there can be more political and maybe armed conflict between different Iraqi Shia elements between Muqtada al-Sadr and Nour al Maliki-supported groups, and maybe between militias belonging to some of the Iranian-backed groups and Muqtada al-Sadr supporters.
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“When all of these is happening in Baghdad, it of course must have an impact on the ability of the Iraqi national army to fight the Islamic State [Daesh] to date in Ninewah and in Anbar,” he said. “It will affect budgets, it will affect personnel rotations, soldiers and their officers who rotate in an out.”
He added that it would be impossible to imagine that this political fighting in Baghdad will not hurt the Iraqi effort against Daesh, which may “at least make it slower, impede it.”
“Sadr Allies With Sunnis to Challenge Maliki”, January 2013
No one in Iraq had ever imagined that a popular and political alliance would one day bring together Muqtada al-Sadr and the Sunni Arabs. The two parties participated in an excruciating civil war (2006-2008) that resulted in thousands of casualties on both sides.
Sunni Arabs have always viewed Sadr as the commander of an armed militia. However, they are now strongly calling on him to join them in their protests against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
With the failure of efforts aimed at dismissing Maliki through a former political alliance between Kurdistan regional leader Massoud Barzani, Sunni-backed Iraqiya List leader Iyad Allawi and Sadr, the demonstrations that recently started in Anbar reshuffled the cards through an alliance that is in the offing between Sadr and influential Sunni clerics led by Sheikh Abdul-Malik al-Saadi.
Today, the Sunnis share just as many differences as they do common goals with Sadr. The two parties have detainees in prison and they both hope that they will be released by a general amnesty. They both believe that Maliki monopolizes power in a bid to serve the interests of his party and his close associates. Moreover, they both have a close relationship with Turkey, a strategic ally of Barzani.
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But when Sadr went to Iran after 2008 to study, his personality significantly changed. His close associates say that this resulted from his experience with the mistakes of Iran’s ruling theory. In fact, when he returned to Iraq he adopted a different viewpoint regarding the relationship between the Shiite majority and the Sunni minority and described it as a “tolerant relationship,” rather than a “hostile” one. Moreover, he started saying that “Maliki’s entire policy is offensive to the Shiites because it portrays them as a tyrannical majority in the eyes of the Kurds and the Sunnis.” Sadr concluded a press conference by saying that “Iraq is not only composed of Shiites, but of Sunnis, Kurds, Turkmen, Christians, Mandaeans and Jews as well.”
The Sunnis got that message, embraced it and translated it into demonstrations. Thus, they turned the former militia leader into a new Shiite hero who perceives them as partners, not followers.
“Iraq’s Sadr calls for release of Turkish hostages”, September 2015
Iraq‘s powerful Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has condemned the kidnapping of 18 Turkish workers in Baghdad last week and said he was ready to assist the government in securing their release.
“Sadr Gives Maliki ‘Final Warning”, May 2013
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Sadr’s call came after a series of bloody acts of violence, including 10 car bombs that targeted Shiite neighborhoods in the capital and resulted in the killing of at least 70 people. Sadr said in the statement that “terrorism has influence and control in Iraq. They (militants) frequently step up their bombings, which are met by mere condemnation or silence by all parties.”
He added that “the people are now without a government to protect them and are facing terrorism without help from anyone.” The Shiite leader called on Iraqis to “eliminate hatred from the hearts, defuse sectarian rancor, and return to God.”
“Iraq’s Sadr in Turkey for talks with Erdogan”, May 2009
An anti-American firebrand, Sadr has a huge following among Iraq’s Shi’ite poor, and his allies won enough seats in the January 31 polls for Iraq’s provincial councils to remain a political player. Shi’ites are the majority Muslim sect in Iraq.
“Turkey and Iraq convulse: Bad news for Iran”, May 2016
“The collapse of Iraq’s Shiite alliance”, April 2016
“US, Iran holding secret talks to stabilize situation in Baghdad: sources”, Μάιος2016
Jordan recalls ambassador from Iran, accusing Tehran of ‘interference’
Jordan closes Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Amman
Jordan’s king accuses Turkey of sending terrorists to Europe – See more at:http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/jordans-king-accuses-turkey-sending-terrorists-europe-1687591648
Jordan foils ‘criminal plot linked to ISIS’ in deadly raid
“Syrian refugees in Jordan: ‘If they cut the coupons, we will probably die”
“Jordan Pivots to Saudi Arabia”, April 2016
“Jordan and the Gulf Crisis”, 1991
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Public support for the Iraqi leader is extensive across Jordan and encompasses a wide spectrum of society. Pro-Saddam demonstrations, of which there are often several a day, are even advertised in the once-tame local newspapers. The sponsors of these gatherings run the gamut from the leftist Jordan People’s Democratic Party to the extremist Islamic Jihad, but the rallies themselves do not vary much. Speakers vilify the deposed Kuwaiti ruling family, the al-Sabahs, for squandering Arab wealth on gambling and prostitutes; Kuwait’s supporters, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, are jeered as traitors; American flags are burned; the crowd chants, “Oh Saddam, we are willing to die for you!”
While more circumspect than his constituents, King Hussein has given the impression that he, too, sympathizes with Saddam. Days after the Iraqi invasion the king told NBC News that Saddam was “a person to be trusted and dealt with.” And he called the Iraqi president “an Arab patriot in the eyes of many.” The king was also slow to comply with U.N. economic sanctions against his neighbor. While the truck traffic across the Jordanian-Iraqi border is now down to virtually nothing from its pre-invasion 1,000 vehicles a day, Jordan still imports its oil from Iraq, contending that to do anything else before a replacement source is located would be to commit economic suicide. Additionally, Jordan continues to allow daily Iraqi Airways flights from Amman, which is now the carrier’s only regular destination, in apparent violation of the U.N. ban on commercial and financial transactions with Iraq.
Since the beginning of the crisis King Hussein has busied himself flying about the Arab world, Europe and theUnited States trying vainly to rally support for an “Arab solution” to the crisis. The king’s formula would reportedly trade an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait for a package of concessions to Saddam. This deal would include a pullout of Western troops from Saudi Arabia, an unspecified “privileged” relationship between Iraqand Kuwait, and the convening of a Middle East peace conference to consider the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Syrian occupation of Lebanon. Such proposals have estranged Amman from Washington and its Arab friends. The Bush administration rejects Hussein’s ideas, saying they would reward Saddam for his invasion. American officials also worry that the king’s efforts will undermine the U.N. embargo by giving the Iraqis hope that more Arab states will eventually rally to their side. The Jordanians counter that their efforts might have succeeded but for U.S. intransigence and haste to send troops to the gulf.
Given the formidable forces arrayed against Iraq, King Hussein appears to be recklessly exposing his kingdom to grave risks. Poor in natural resources and weaker militarily than its neighbors, Jordan has nevertheless thrived through its client relationship with Western powers, such as the United States and Britain, and regional financiers, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Hussein’s current position not only jeopardizes the protection afforded by his relationship with the United States and financial assistance from the gulf states but also risks provoking neighboring Syria and Israel.
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Behind Hussein’s position lies a Jordanian-Iraqi interdependence that has grown deep in recent years. Jordanhas become so dependent on Iraq as a market for its exports and as a source of cheap oil that destruction of the Iraqi economy by either military means or blockade threatens to destroy Jordan’s economy as well. Despite his misgivings about Saddam’s brutal style of rule and his erratic behavior, the king had also bet heavily on militarily powerful Iraq as a protector from Israeli aggression. The refusal of the U.S. Congress to permit American arms sales to Jordan over the last decade helped push him in this direction.
Hussein wants to secure his kingdom’s future. He also wants to play a weightier role than the military and economic strength of his nation would automatically convey. Contemplating the fall of communism, his frustration with Washington, and his concern about Israeli intentions, he seems to have decided that a close relationship to Saddam was his best bet. He also apparently tired of going against Arab public opinion by cooperating with American and Israeli plans for resolving the Arab-Israeli dispute. Now, playing to the emotions of his own people, Hussein is enjoying the results. Demonstrators raise his picture along with Saddam’s at the rallies, including those of the left, whose leaders the king had imprisoned. Hussein is also acting out of frustration with the United States, which he blames in large part for the failure of his own efforts to find a solution to the Palestinian problem.
Jordan has always been in danger of splitting along demographic lines, but the gulf crisis has united the country. Jordanians of Palestinian origin, who make up more than half of the 3.1 million population, like Saddam’s anti-Israeli rhetoric and ask why the West is so concerned about Kuwait when it has done little to persuade Israel to withdraw from the West Bank. Non-Palestinian Jordanians, or East Bankers, ask the same question. Many older East Bankers cling to Baathist political beliefs from their school days in Baghdad or Damascus, and Saddam has given them hope that a strong, unified Arab nation can be a reality. Finally, there is little Jordanian sympathy forKuwait because many of the hundreds of thousands of Jordanians who have worked there now say the Kuwaitis were arrogant, even cruel, masters.
Amman‘s ties with Baghdad first blossomed during the Iran-Iraq War. King Hussein saw the Iraqi army as a check on the Ayatollah Khomeini’s attempts to export his Islamic revolution to Arab countries. The United States and other Western countries backed Saddam for much the same reason. Hussein let the Iraqis, whose narrow outlets to the gulf were blocked during the war, use Jordan as a lifeline. Throughout the war a vast fleet of trucks roared up the desert road from the Jordanian port of Aqaba to Baghdad bringing vital food and supplies. Tanker trucks hauled Iraqi oil to the sea.
The Saudis have already shown their anger with Jordan by cutting off the flow of the Tapline pipeline, through which the Jordanians were to receive crude to replace Iraq’s, saying that the Jordanians were behind in payments. They have also recalled their ambassador and are refusing to buy Jordanian goods. Particularly galling to the Saudis may be Hussein’s wish to be called by his great-grandfather’s title, Sharif-suggesting that he harbors ambitions to return to his family’s former domain in Mecca.
In those days Egyptian President Gamal Abdul al-Nasser inspired fiery young men across the Arab world to overthrow more traditional leaders. While Saddam Hussein’s charisma pales in comparison to Nasser’s, his influence does reach into Jordan. In August droves of Jordanians signed up as “volunteers” to fight in the gulf onIraq’s behalf. The Iraqi Embassy in Amman is a beehive of activity with a great many people going in and out. Amman is rife with rumors of financial incentives from Baghdad, but these are hard to confirm.
At the same time the Jordanians watch with trepidation as over 17,000 Soviet Jews a month pour into Israel. This inflow rekindled deep-seated Jordanian fears that expansionist forces in Israel will push the West Bankers intoJordan, swamping the already fragile economy and upsetting the delicate demographic balance. Skeptical of American will to restrain Israel and angry at Congress for voting against any significant shipments of new American arms to Jordan, Hussein has in the last two years edged closer to militarily powerful Iraq for protection. Saddam, with his plans to develop nuclear weapons, may also have seemed the only Arab leader with a chance of seriously challenging Israel in the long run.
“Arafat’s costly Gulf War choice”, August 2009
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On August 10, 20 Arab League countries at an emergency summit in Cairo drafted a final statement that condemned the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and supported the UN resolutions.
Twelve Arab states supported the use of force while the remaining eight, including the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), rejected a military solution to the Iraqi invasion.
For the PLO, this was a precarious gamble. Since its creation in 1969, the PLO had enjoyed considerable financial backing from both Iraq and Kuwait.
Yasser Arafat, the PLO leader, realised that it was impossible to satisfy his two backers; he believed he was left with no alternative but to support Baghdad.
“The Iran-Iraq War and Its Effects on Turkey”, September 2006
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We can say that the basic reason of this war is the regional hegemony struggle of the 1970s. This struggle had begun when Britain stated in 1968 that it will withdraw from the east of the Suez latest by the end of 1971. The desires ofIran to fill the gap of power in the region were completely against the Iraq’s self-designed regional role. The invasion of three islands, which belonged to Sharjah and Ras Al Kharimah Emirates before, by Iran, is the first step of the struggle. We must also add the view of Ba’ath Party of Iraq that Iran was a tool of the imperialists against the Arab unity under the leadership of Shah. It is a known fact that Shah had always close relations with Israel and USA.
After the withdrawal statement of Britain, USA under the load of the Vietnam War, started to use a “twin pillar policy” on the Middle East which puts the security of the Gulf region on two bases. One of these bases would beIran with its military power, and the other Saudi Arabia with its political power. This was a great chance for Iranian government. The policies of Iranwere aiming to put Iraq out of the regional politics. This effort resulted in Iraq USSR close relations and paved the way to sign 1972 Friendship and Cooperation Treaty.
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Border of Shatt-al-Arab is another reason for the struggle of both countries. The transportation on the river of Shatt-al-Arab has been done according to 1937 agreement between both countries, which approved the sovereignty of Iraq on the river and accepted a middle-line in front of Abadanas the border. This border became a problem between both countries after 1971.
Kurds living in Iraq had the major rights like education in their language, and a certain extent of internal independence. But, there had been differences in the views concerning the application of these rights. Struggles between Ba’ath Party and the KDP (Kurdish Democratic Party) began. Iran supported Kurds against the Iraqi government. Iran’s aim was to come to a certain point of agreement about Shatt-al-Arab issue. So, in 1975, both countries signed the Algiers Agreement. Iraq gave up its decisive policy on the river because of the huge problems it confronted inside the country with the Kurds.
This rapprochement between both countries has come to an end with the Iranian Revolution of 1979. (February 6, 1979) Iran, under the leadership of Khomeini, became a fundamentalist country which tried to spread the Islamic fundamentalism all around the Middle East. Ba’ath Party had a strong tradition of viewing itself as the leader of the Arab world and the guide of pan-Arabism. This characteristic of Ba’ath party makes it always very suspicious about any anti Ba’ath policy movements. So; Iranian fundamental religious government under Khomeini was a big “reason” of Saddam’s conspiracies.
Shi’ites in Iraq supported Khomeini. As a reaction, Ba’ath Party arrested all the Shi’ite
Leaders in October 1979. In late 1979 Iran escalated its anti-Ba’athist campaign by resuming its support for the Iraqi Kurds; it also began providing moral and material support to Shi’ite underground movements in Iraq; and last, the Iranian government initiated terrorist attacks on prominent officials, the most significant of which was the failed attempt to assassinate the Iraqi Deputy Premier, Tariq Aziz, on April 1, 1980.
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On September 22, 1980 Iraq invaded Iranian territories. Iraqis captured some villages and the important port of Khorramshahr. Iranians failed to launch any successful counter-offensives. Khuzestan was invaded by Iraqi forces. By 1982, Iranian forces made gradual advances and even forced Iraqi army to withdraw from the border. Iran invaded Iraqi territory. Khomeini and other leaders wanted the removal of Saddam and the payment of reparations to Iranfor the war damages in Khuzestan. In 1984, Iraq acquired French-made Exocet missiles to launch attacks on Iranian oil facilities in the Persian Gulf. Iranattacked tankers loaded with Arab oil, and claimed that the profits from these tankers helped Iraq to buy new arms. As a response, Iraq attacked the Iranian oil tankers. A Tanker War started.
Iranian military gains inside Iraq after 1984 were a major reason for increased superpower involvement in the war. In February 1986, Iranian troops captured the port of Al Faw. By late 1986; Iran launched several attacks to capture Basra. In late May 1987, on Iraq’s northern front a conflict was so intense. This was a joint effort by Iranian units and Iraqi Kurdish rebels. They endangered Iraq’s oil fields near Kirkuk and the northern oil pipeline toTurkey. So; the superpowers became more directly involved because they feared that the fall of Basra might lead to a pro-Iranian Islamic republic in largely Shia-populated southern Iraq.
The superpowers were also concerned about the intensified tanker war. During 1987, Iran attacked 29 ships and Iraq assaulted 15. Kuwaiti ships were favourite targets because Iran strongly objected to Kuwait’s close relationship with the Baghdad regime. Kuwait turned to the superpowers, partly to protect oil exports but largely to seek an end to the war through superpower intervention. Moscow leased 3 tankers to Kuwait, and by June 1987 USA had re-flagged 22 Kuwaiti tankers. Finally, direct attacks on the superpowers’ ships drew them into the conflict.
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The outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War on September 22, 1980; immediately broughtTurkey face to face with unpleasant political and economic prospects, with the former dominating as the war continued. Turkish national security was in jeopardy. First, the ongoing war could further radicalise the regime in Iran, and this might well upset the regional equilibrium. In such an event, the region would immediately become receptive to Soviet influence. Second, the war could spill over the borders of Iran and Iraq, involving the Arab countries around the Persian Gulf, and could become a war between Iran and the Arab world. In such an event, especially when if the superpowers were to become involved, Turkey could well be plunged into a Middle East war despite its determination to stay out of one. Third, the war could have a negative effect on the demographic and ethnic structure of the region. This would pose a threat to the security of Turkey’s south-eastern areas close to its eastern border. An illustration of this occurred in May 1983 when the Iraqi central government weakened, and the Kurds, emboldened by this situation, infiltrated Turkish territory and terrorised the south-eastern villages.
Both warring parties shared their borders with Turkey, which provided them with their only overland access to Europe. Therefore Turkey’s stance on the war mattered a great deal. Turkey declared itself neutral in the conflict. But, Ankara’s relations with Baghdad were better than her relations withTehran. There are two reasons for that. First, Turkey’s Kurdish minority had been up in arms for the past many years in an area contiguous with the Iraqi Kurdish region, and it had been co-operating actively with Baghdad in counter-insurgency. Secondly, as a secular society since 1924, Turkey had much in common with Ba’athist Iraq, and shared Baghdad’s fear of Islamic fundamentalism within its borders.
From the Turkish perspective, the renewal of the Kurdish insurgency in south-eastern Turkey is the single most detrimental by-product of the Iran-Iraq War. Kurds in Turkey have always been under the control of central government and any pro-Kurdish movements were not allowed. The war resulted of Iraq’s loss of control of its own border areas following the transfer of Iraqi troops from Kurdish areas in the north to the Iranian front. Kurds had more space and freedom to operate against Turkey. The name of the Kurdish terrorist organisation was PKK. (Workers Party of Kurdistan) PKK was attacking the civilian and military targets and running back to northern Iraq. In countering the Kurdish problem, Iraq received enthusiastic co-operation from Turkey, with which it had in 1978 concluded a secret accord allowing each side to pursue “subversive elements” up to 9 miles inside each other’s territory. In May 1983 Turkish troops infiltrated 18 miles into Iraqi Kurdistan to destroy the bases of its Kurdish guerrillas in the KDP-occupied part. Following this, Tariq Aziz visited Ankara to reinforce mutual security co-operation further. The outcome was the signing of an agreement in October 1984 permitting cross-border operations up to 18 miles into each other’s territory. This permission given to the Turkish armed forces was counter to Saddam’s policy which rejected “the facilitation of the presence of any foreign armies, bases or armed forces in the Arab homeland, under any pretext and guise and for any reasons.”
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I must also note that the Shi’ite fundamentalism of the Khomeini regime was an obvious danger to the Turkish state, where nearly 10 million inhabitants are of Shi’ite origin. And indeed, soon after his victory Khomeini stated that the Turkish regime rested on the force of bayonets and suggested thatTurkey’s leaders were headed for the same fate as the shah. Short after this statement, Turkish military intervened and the coup of September 12, 1980happened in Turkey.
So; while Turkey maintained diplomatic relations with both Iran and Iraq during the war, even providing Iran with a commercial outlet to the West, Turkey saw Iraq’s final victory as in its interest, that is, in containing the spread of Iran’s revolutionary impulse.
Iran was following the Soviet model on the export of its revolution by improving her relations with all the states and supporting the terrorist groups which aim to destruct the regimes of those states. Iran attacked the traditions and the symbols of the Turkish state during the war. (These symbols are mostly related to the Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the secular Turkish republic) Tehran involved in domestic politics of Turkey and protested the preventing of religious students who wore kerchiefs from attending university. In addition, the Khomeini regime provided support to Cemalettin Kaplan, a fundamentalist anti-regime preacher in Germany who had sizeable followers among Turkish workers in Europe.
The Iranian “model” became the basic reason for Turkish fundamental groups to claim and struggle for an Islamic state. They used arms to fight against the Turkish armed forces under the name of Hezbollah, IBDA-C etc. All of these organisations’ statements show that the Iranian Revolution and the insurgence of the Islamic identity in the Middle East were the reasons of their existence. These statements also include that the Iran-Iraq War resulted with the defeat of Islamic Resistance to the “evil” Iraq and USA. There is an increasing tendency in the Turkish society towards the re-birth of the Islamic Revolution.
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Both Iran and Iraq, as a result of their international isolation, were forced to rely on Turkey as a major source of needed commodities imported fromTurkey itself or from the West. By showing no favour to either party, Turkeyhas become a major trading partner of both. Iran and Iraq increasingly turned to Turkey to satisfy their import needs. They found Turkish products to be less expensive.
Throughout the 1980s, the war with Iran gave Iraq an incentive to co-operate fully with Turkey, including in the establishment of commercial exchanges between the two countries. Turkey quickly became one ofBaghdad’s main customers. 60% of the oil consumed in Turkey was imported from Iraq. When Turkey saw that “Iraq was threatened with collapse under the battering of the Iranian advance”, the Turkish minister of State, Kamran Inan, publicly warned that “no less than 1,5 million Turks and Turkomans live in the northern regions of Iraq.” Inan, in effect, wanted to assert Turkey’s pre-emptive right in the event that an Iranian advance let to the break-up of Iraq.
In 1984-1985 Turkish-Iranian trade amounted to 230 million $ making Turkey Iran’s third most important commercial partner after West Germanyand Japan. Iran balanced its trade with Turkey by selling 100.000 b/d of its oil to its neighbour. Despite the irritation caused by the Iraqi strikes in May and June 1985 against Turkish-owned oil tankers carrying Iranian oil,Ankara’s relations with Iraq remained cordial. Turkey and Iraq had a strong interest in maintaining the military co-operation in suppressing Kurdish insurgency. In November 1985 Turkey concluded a contract with Iraq for a second oil pipeline with an annual capacity of 71 million tones. (1.4 million b/d)
American-Turkish relations improved considerably in the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution. USA provided all the possible support to the Turkish democratic regime, trying to prevent Turkey to fall under the effect of Islamic fundamentalism. After the Iranian advance on Iraqi territories, USA sent commissions to Turkey about the preparation of Turkish army to a rapid annexation of the oil-rich northern provinces of Iraq (like Kirkuk) to prevent the oil from falling into the Islamic fundamentalist Iranian regime. Turkish authorities denied such scenarios.
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To make a conclusion we can say that Iran-Iraq War, in general terms, had negative effects on Turkey. The Kurdish nationalism was awakened and the Kurdish terrorists found safe-havens for themselves in the destabilised northern regions of Iraq. The use of military forces against these terrorists and the military operations made by Turkey to Iraq during the war, made the international community suspicious about the Kurdish issue.
The effect of Islamic fundamentalism in Turkey does not have as much importance as the Kurdish nationalism. The only negative effect is the reflection of Islamic Revolution as a model to fundamentalist Islamic terrorist groups in Turkey which aim to establish an Islamic state like Iran.
In the economic area, we can see the negative effect of the delay of oil transportation and the non-payment of debts, on the Turkish economy. These resulted as a decline in Turkish export policies and as an increase on the amount of Turkish foreign debts.
We can see that being neutral and in the same time trying to gain the maximum advantage does not work effectively as a foreign policy tool. This neutrality has turned into the internal catastrophes of Turkish economic and political policies towards both sides.
Israel–Jordan relations refers to diplomatic, economic and cultural relations between Israel and Jordan. The two countries have had official diplomatic relations since the 1994 signing of the Israel–Jordan peace treaty. Recently, relations have been slightly strained due to the conflict over the Al-Aqsa mosque. However, this has not proven to be exceptionally damaging to the relationship between the two countries.
The relationships between Jewish leaders in Israel and the Hashemite dynasty in the area was characterized by ambivalence as both parties’ prominence grew in the area. Jordan consistently subscribed to an anti-Zionist policy, but made decisions pragmatically. Several factors are cited for this relative pragmatism. Among these are the two countries’ geographic proximity, King Hussein‘s Western orientation, and Jordan’s modest territorial aspirations. Nevertheless, a state of war existed between the two countries from 1948 until the treaty was signed.
Since the 1967 Six-Day War, the section of the pipeline which runs through the Golan Heights came under Israeli occupation, though the Israelis permitted the pipeline’s operation to continue. After years of constant arguing between Saudi Arabia and Syria and Lebanon over transit fees, the emergence of oil supertankers, and pipeline breakdowns, the section of the line beyond Jordan ceased operation in 1976. The remainder of the line betweenSaudi Arabia and Jordan continued to transport modest amounts of petroleum until 1990 when the Saudis cut off the pipeline in response to Jordan’s support ofIraq during the first Gulf War. Today, the entire line is unfit for oil transport.