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The Islamic Caliphate &The "Root Causes"

By Kam Zarrabi, Intellectual Discourse

The unworthy child! (cartoon by Hassan Karimzadeh, Shahrvand daily)

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, warned his nation during a televised address the other day of the severe danger of terrorism by the advocates of the rising monster, the Islamic State or Caliphate. He pointed to the “root causes” of this evil plague that was spreading rapidly throughout the Islamic world from the Middle East to Africa. The “root causes” were, in short, an archaic poisonous ideology and violent extremism. By poisonous ideology he was referring, of course, to a misinterpretation of Islamic religious doctrines, and hence he, as a very British aristocrat, was being condescending and merciful toward the mainstream Islamic World.

Not so “merciful” however, when it comes to one Frank Gaffney, the notorious Arch Zionist/Neocon. I was looking forward to a C-SPAN-1 program that was to be aired Saturday evening, August 30th, featuring Jimmy Carter addressing some Islamic group or center.  That program was preempted, however, by another program, this one featuring Frank Gaffney’s critique of Islamic ideology. His lecture that included some classroom style graphics implicated the Prophet Muhammad and the Ghor’anic passages for advocating hatred and genocide against people of other faiths, including Jews and Christians! His cartoonish presentation reminded me of the performance by his boss, the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, holding the drawing of an atomic bomb to demonstrate how close Iran was to fabricating such a device.

Interestingly, this was the second airing of Mr. Gaffney’s program on C-SPAN in three days! So, this well-paid and amply funded charlatan parading as a scholar of sorts, has figured out what the “root causes” of terror and violence emanating from the Islamic societies are: Simple; Islam and Islamic ideology!

Now ask the average Jo or Jane anywhere what they think the “root causes” of the September 11th 2001 terror attack against the World Trade Center buildings were. The answer or the kneejerk response is quite straight forward: The perpetrators, all Muslims, were from a religion or culture that hates modernity, freedom, democracy and a good life. After all, how could we doubt what the likes of the New York Mayor at the time, Rudy Giuliani, tell us? 

Well, thanks to our pompous politicians, charlatans and sleaze buckets, we have pinpointed the “root causes” of all the barbarism, mayhem and genocide that goes on around us.

We don’t need to go back to the real roots of all evil as depicted in the Biblical Book of Genesis. There, God, like a good daddy, tells Adam, I’ve provided you with all kinds of good stuff to eat and to enjoy; so, stay away from that one fruit - that’s forbidden. But no: Adam ate the forbidden fruit and blamed it on his partner-in-sin, Eve, who in turn put the blame on the serpent that had tempted her. Perhaps God was to blame in the first place for giving the humans free will to disobey the Big Daddy!

No matter how Adam tried to exonerate himself by passing on the blame to the “root causes” of that intransigence, his efforts were futile and the Original Sin was committed, for which humanity must continue to pay the price.  

Somewhere between the fairytale narratives of the Original Sin and the British Prime Minister’s visionary comments lie the more realistic “root causes” of this evil extremism that the world is concerned with today.

Evil does exist, not the evil as depicted in the various theologies of the world, but as the counterpart or the flipside of what humans regard as good based, of course, on time and place and how it might serve their interest. God had really no choice in the matter; humans as an extension of their animal roots exercised their free will often did what later appeared as evil; and then, in order to justify their ruthless genocidal actions, put the blame on God for their deeds. Just read the Bible and see how Yahweh supposedly orders the Chosen Tribe to mercilessly massacre the Amalekites and other tribes on the way to establishing ownership of someone else’s lands! I think our “scholar”, Frank Gaffney, should read his Jewish Bible before attempting to maliciously interpret the Islamic Ghor’an. He should also look at what his beloved Zionist state of Israel has been doing to the Palestinian nation along the same ancient traditional lines of beliefs and practices.

The ISIS or ISIL, or as many refer to it as the Islamic State or Caliphate is, contrary to what we are told, an amorphous creature that moves and grows like an amoeba, flexible and adaptable, absorbing and incorporating into its formless body anything that it can digest. This amoeba has found a perfect Petri Dish in Syria and Iraq where the environment for its strength and growth was made almost ideal, thanks to the Western colonial empires’ efforts to increase their influence in the region under the guise of promoting freedom and democracy.

Iraq was made “free” of the Saddam era’s tyranny, but it cost the Iraqi nation hundreds of thousands of lives, near total devastation of its infrastructure, and what little security and stability people still enjoyed before being “liberated” and ultimately driven into the sectarian chaos and fratricide we see today.

The same scenario was being repeated in Syria, where the Assad government, actually a moderate semi-secular or liberal regime (in Middle Eastern terms, of course), was conveniently branded as a Saddam-like monstrous tyranny that the Western empires - initially the United States and Israel - felt compelled to “liberate” for humanitarian reasons. To this day, nobody has been able to explain what real threat the Assad regime was posing to the security of the United States or the West, for which the State Department, and the President personally, declared on numerous occasion that Assad must go.

Well, Assad hasn’t gone yet; and that arrogant, uncalculated gesture of pomp and splendor characteristic of powerful empires past and present has cost the United States heavily in its global image and prestige. But that premature declaration has resulted in catastrophic regional turmoil, over a hundred-thousand innocent lives, over two million refugees flooding neighboring states and, worst of all, an environment of chaos and confusion where terrorist bands have sprouted like mushrooms in a dung heap.

I have written about the causes and effects of this war on Syria and its probable true causes and agendas; no need to repeat it here. The net result, however, has been the devastation of a land and a nation, where, just as was the case in Iraq, in the absence of a strong central authority or regime, large and small warlords rise up, each carrying their own banner, trying to gain as much and as fast as they can in the dust that is left behind.

Some of these ambitious terror groups are, of course, native to Syria, among them the so-called Free Syrian Army that opposes the Assad regime, and has been openly encouraged by (a la the coup in the Ukraine!) and continues to be the direct recipient of American and Western financial, military and training support. The most energetic and vicious fighting groups, however, are mercenaries with some indigenous components who are funded and armed by our own friendly Arab allies in the region, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Their aim has long been to establish some form of Sunni Islamic regime in the mostly secular Syria and the Shi’a dominated Iraq in order to prevent the spread of Iranian influence in the Middle East.

The United States, naturally on behest of Israel, has been quite supportive of any movement, however terror oriented and potentially even dangerous to Western interests if not properly controlled, that would oppose Iran’s influence in sympathetic Syria, Lebanon and even the Shi’a dominated Iraq.

In the ensuing lawlessness and turmoil, many of these disparate rebel bands got tired of fighting among each other and even against the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian military, and coalesced into the shapeless amoeba we call ISIS/ISIL today. The Islamic State movement gained what power and influence it has in Iraq and Syria through the financial and military support by the Persian Gulf kingdoms and sheikdoms with our blessing. As long as these terrorist bands were engaged in fighting for our cause, they remained our good terrorists and we chose to look the other way when they ransacked and commandeered arms shipments sent for use by our own favorite group, Free Syrian Army.  That, of course, is not at all unusual: We have good terrorists and bad terrorists; good terrorists act as our own proxies, and bad ones tend to target our interests.

For the sake of argument, Let us discount the distinct probability that the “root cause” of all the recent decades’ unrest and upheavals in the Middle East has been the Western powers’ desire to control the flow of Iraqi oil (mostly from a planned autonomous Kurdistan) and its routing through Syria and Turkey to the European markets. And let us forget for now that the perpetuation of perceived dangers of terrorism against Western strategic interests allows Israel to continue its land grab and atrocities against the Palestinian nation while the “civilized” world remains preoccupied with more serious stuff in the region.  

In other words, whether the amoeba of ISIS is a deliberate creation of Western imperial schemes, or is simply a byproduct of misguided policies or poor planning by the myopic want-to-be architects of the new world order, the immediate “root causes” of the new threat against the civilized world, Islamic, Christian, etc., are none other than those who are now targeted for terror attacks by the evil of their own creation.

Finally, who or what components constitute ISIS or the Islamic Caliphate movement and what danger to the region and the world does this movement pose?

Learn your geography! Iraq and Syria are not like France, Germany or Italy. Small rural communities, villages or small towns, dot a mostly barren landscape, where people scrounge a living as best they can. With little or virtually no central control or oversight by the Iraqi or Syrian governments, these isolated populations are left on their own to sustain and protect themselves.

When mobilized bands of well-armed, gun toting militants arrive on military type vehicles, the frightened villagers and townsfolk have but two choices: yield and join the bandwagon or try to run away and risk perishing in the process. These bands gain momentum by this snowballing process, absorbing the frightened and not so committed peasantry who’d get away at any opportunity that might come along.

The bottom line is that ISIS/ISIL militants do not constitute a well-organized armed force with an effective central command structure. Various rival groups of militant terrorists are often wrongly or prematurely brought under the ISIS umbrella by the media observers.

An Iranian military commander recently commented that ISIS is no more than a temporary nuisance plaguing a lawless land, which can easily be eradicated by the local governments once the leaderships get their acts together. In other words, the threat “unlike anything we have seen before” as uttered by the Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel recently, did not refer to, I am sure, the scale, but the type of threat against the interests of the West.

Isn’t it interesting that there has been no reference to Iran and Russia in our news media when issues dealing with ISIS saturate the airwaves. Iran has been directly and effectively engaged in helping the Iraqi military as well as the Kurdish troops in combating ISIS groups, and helped liberate Erbil. And, doubtless, it will be Iran’s direct support for the Iraqi and Syrian forces to finally eradicate this menace from both Iraq and Syria.

Russia has its own concerns regarding ISIS/ISIL or the very concept of an Islamic Caliphate in the region. Not only has Russia, like Iran, been directly involved in supporting the Assad regime in Syria, any gains by the ISIS terror gangs would not only pose an additional threat to Assad’s regime, it might spill over to and encourage Russia’s own unstable Islamic regions, Chechnya and Daghistan, not  that far away.

So, is the ISIS crisis more than just a barbaric, Middle Age’s radical Islamic monster that takes pleasure in beheading innocent people? Does Obama’s statement that ISIS could be reduced to a “manageable” menace imply that, like a poisonous rattlesnake, its venom could potentially be useful in creating anti-venom or medication for heart attacks, if “managed” properly? Are we possibly looking at yet another “tool” to perpetuate instability and agitation in this region to serve some not-so-clandestine purpose, such as partitioning Syria and Iraq into a more “manageable” map, or even accommodating Israel’s regional agendas?  

Kam Zarrabi is the author of In Zarathushtra's Shadow and Necessary Illusion.He has conducted lectures and seminars on international affairs, particularly in relation to Iran, with focus on US/Iran issues. Zarrabi's latest book is Iran, Back in Context.
More information about Mr. Zarrabi and his work is available at:

In my personal opinion, the threats of terrorism by the returning American and European passport-holding militants in their home states are, as usual, highly overplayed by the media as well as by their respective governments. The threats of terrorism by home-grown radicals in their respective countries will not be significantly increased because of affiliations with ISIS or some fictional Islamic Caliphate looming on the horizon. Such threats have been there and will continue to be there, from Somalia, Nigeria and Sudan, to Russia, France, England or the United States.

One thing is for sure; as long as Islam and Islamic ideology are inadvertently or deliberately blamed by the Western media as the “root causes” of the problems, the real culprits remain hidden behind the fog of disinformation and cover-up. Look a little deeper, Mr. Cameron, and see how the outdated imperial colonial Western attitude that regards the rest of the world as a playground to exploit and plunder has contributed to the creation of this hell on earth.

... Payvand News - 09/05/14 ... --

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