More on the Islamic State
Speaking from the recent NATO conference, US President Obama claimed to be assembling a coalition of countries to eventually “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) that is currently seeking to establish itself in northern Iraq and Syria. (1) The United Kingdom has already pledged its support to the effort. Obama’s recent escalation of rhetoric against the Islamic State follows the Islamic State’s recent beheading of two US journalists. These beheadings were the Islamic State’s response to the United States’ bombing campaign against Islamic State’s military positions. The strikes against the Islamic State continue. Most recently, a strike was carried out against positions near Iraq’s Hadith dam. (2) In addition, the United States has delivered aid to populations besieged by the Islamic State. Even though the Islamic State is apparently coming into more conflict in recent weeks with the United States, this does not mean that the Islamic State is anti-imperialist nor progressive.
This conflict cannot be understood by simply looking at Iraq and Syria. The Islamic State is part of a broader regional war. Generally speaking, on one side stands Iran, the Assad regime, Hezbollah, and the Shia in Iraq. On the other side stands the United States and its regional allies: the Gulf Arab states, other Sunni states like Jordan and Turkey, Israel, etc. Other lesser-known struggles are part of this broader conflict also. For example, the popular revolt against the monarchy of Bahrain is also part of this regional war.
Even though imperialism moves against the the Islamic State with one hand, it supports the Islamic State with its other hand. The Islamic State is part of an effort by the enemies of Iran to contain Iran’s influence. Hezbollah, the Assad regime in Syria, and to a lesser extent, the Shia regime and militias in Iraq are connected to Iran. Iran is perceived by the imperialists to be a far bigger threat than the Islamic State. Imperialism fears Iran emerging as a powerful mini-super power armed with nuclear weapons. Thus to counter Iran’s influence, imperialism channels support to the Islamic State through backdoor channels in the Gulf Arab states, Israel, and Turkey even as imperialism denounces the Islamic State. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized the imperialist rhetoric:
“There is still no serious understanding about the threat and they (the United States) have as yet taken no serious action… They have helped (IS) in Syria in different ways.” (3)
The overall effect of the Islamic State is to engulf the region in brutal sectarian conflict that weakens the ability of the masses, be they Sunni, Shia, Christian, Kurd, Arab, etc., to defend themselves against imperialism. Sect is set against sect, ethnicity against ethnicity, nationality against nationality. Iraq and Syria are being split into mini-countries organized around national and religious lines. These smaller entities are more easily controlled by imperialists and their allies. The imperialists are using the Islamic State as part of their strategy to divide and conquer the region.
The brutality of the Islamic State allows the imperialists to posture as heroes. The gruesome spectacles of the Islamic State, heads on pikes, mass graves of headless corpses, images of crucifixions, videos of children carrying out executions, slavery, genocide, etc., only make it easier for the imperialists to justify their intervention. Such barbarity not only generates public support for imperialism in the global media, it also pushes local populations, especially persecuted minorities, into the arms of the imperialists. The modus operandi of the imperialists is simple: fund and support the chaos of the Islamic State through backdoor channels, then use the chaos to justify further imperialist intervention.
It is important to look beneath surfaces. The Islamic State is not part of the united front against imperialism. Whatever the militant rhetoric of the Islamic State and the imperialists, overall, they are serving each other’s interests. A tipping point may be being reached where the imperialists seek to reign in the Islamic State. Time will tell. However, currently, the Islamic State is serving its purpose as the brutal bogeyman dividing the masses and justifying further imperialist intervention in the region. It is important to not take the Islamic State’s anti-imperialist rhetoric at face value. Talk is cheap. The end game of the Islamic State’s insurgency is not liberation, but barbarism, genocide, and more imperialist exploitation. Religion will never be capable of leading the people to true victory. Nationalism will not either. Unity, not division, is the key to defeating imperialism. Only science, only Leading Light Communism, can truly defeat imperialism once and for all because science is based on reality, the common interests of all people.