This past week, Arab Spring-like protests have been taking place in Baghdad and numerous other Iraqi cities. The protests have been mainly against corruption, which is rampant in Iraq. Other issues mentioned by protesters are lack of jobs, defects in public services, and the excessive Iranian influence. Iraqi Shi’a have been the primary movers in these protests.
In the early stages of the protests, al-arabiyya TV reported that the Iranian-supported Iraqi Shi’a militia the heshd sha’bi (Popular mobilization) was firing upon the demonstrators. Later reports had it that the Iraqi army had fired upon the protesters. Other reports had the Iraqi army protecting the demonstrators from the heshd sha’bi.
More credible reports have recently come out or Iraq that snipers placed on roof tops have been picking off the demonstrators. The identity of the snipers has yet to be determined.
Iranians have called the protesters “American agents,” among other things. In this context Iran has threatened to send 7,500 of its own troops into Iraq to protect Iranian pilgrims to Shi’a holy sites during an up-coming Shi’a ritual called the hussayniyyah.
As reported previously in this series, the Arab Spring 2.0 has been on-going in Algeria for the past half-year resulting in the fall of the Boutiflika government. However, the protesters believe that cronies of the old regime are still calling the shots. This belief has stymied the holding of elections to select a new government.
In this environment a group called mujtem’at-il-silm (Society of Peace) might well be poised to make gains in any upcoming Algerian elections, should such elections actually take place, according to a 39 Sept. report on al-arabiya TV.
The “Society of Peace” group, BTW, is the Algerian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood
Meanwhile in Tunisia, the Muslim Brotherhood branch there, the an-nahdhdah (renaissance) party, after having fallen (according to popularity polls) from 34% down to 8%, also was poised to pick up ground in the 15 Sept. elections. This is because one of the two remaining candidates for the presidency has been charged with fraud and money laundering.
As a result, the an-nahdhah party gained the most votes (plurality) in the 15 Sept. parliamentary elections, and is now looking for partners to form a new government.
As predicted with Trump’s controversial withdrawal of American forces from Syria, Erdogan has invaded northern Syria east of the Euphrates. The Turkish goal is to create a “safe zone” all along Turkey’s border with Syria. This will be accomplished by way of ethnic cleansing these areas of Kurds, Christians, and Yazidis just as they did in the Afrin region last winter.
Expect this region, along with the previously conquered Afrin region, to be “Turkified” and added to Erdogan’s nascent neo-Ottoman Empire. Expect more of the same to follow once these gains have been consolidated. Erdogan has already been making military incursions into the Kurdistan regions of northern Iraq.
Turkish propaganda claims that their current operation in Syria is aimed at combatting “terrorism” specifying the Kurdish PKK (which the U.S. has declared to be a terrorist organization), and ISIS. This is the line that Erdogan used to gain Trump’s agreement to withdraw and “leave the fighting to us.”
Unfortunately, what Turkey identifies as PKK are all Kurds, including those of the YPG who provided the troops for the “Syrian Democratic Army” that we trained, equipped, and fought side-by-side with in the war against ISIS.
Media reports in the West have Turkey’s military incursions into Syria aided by “Syrian rebels,” as a way to sort of legitimize Turkey’s invasion. After all, isn’t that what we were doing? . . . supporting Syrian rebels against the Assad regime?
Problem is, the “Syrian rebels” that Erdogan is using are left-over ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Muslim Brotherhood types—which puts the lie to Erdogan’s claim to be going into Syria to put down ISIS. Middle Eastern sources, Arab and Israeli alike, fear that Erdogan, instead of stamping out ISIS, will free them from the many camps where ISIS survivors are being held.
Most pertinent in this respect is the large camp of 70,000 in northern Syria which here-to-fore “our” YPG Kurds / Syrian Democratic Army have been guarding. Previous reports out of the Arabic media claimed that ISIS had thoroughly taken over that camp, 50,000 of whom are children. The adult ISIS males are armed with AK-47s. The fear in the Middle East is that Erdogan will recycle these 10,000 or so armed ISIS males into their “Free Syrian Army,” while allowing, and encouraging, the adult females to continue raising and brain-washing their children with ISIS propaganda (a process that is already underway in all of the camps where ISIS members are being held.
These children, 50,000 strong (along with the thousands of others from other camps), will then become the next generation of shock troops for Turkey’s continued Jihad expansion and resurrection of the old Ottoman empire—a process to continue long after Erdogan’s passing from the scene.
Erdogan’s grand plan for reconstituting the old Ottoman Empire that was dismembered by European powers during the 19th and early 20th centuries, culminating in WWI, includes allying itself with the Muslim Brotherhood association branches which are present in every single Arabic-speaking country.
This alliance of the largely Arabic Muslim Brotherhood (MB) with the political/military ambitions of Erdogan have been blessed by the current ideological leader of the MB, Yusuf al-Qaradhawi, who currently resides in the MB-supporting country of Qatar. I find it significant that just as Turkey is making military gains in the Kurdish areas of Syria and Iraq, Turk-friendly MB parties have been making political gains (just this past week) in Tunisia and Algeria, among other regions.
A more detailed special report on Trump’s withdraw from Syria and its long-term ramifications will follow in a few days.
Barry Webb has logged a 25-year career as an Arabist for the NSA, has two MA degrees in related subject matter, and is currently a Senior Fellow with Americans for Intelligence Reform www.intelreform.org. He is also the author of Confessions of an (ex) NSA spy: Why America and its Allies are Losing the War on Terror. His website is www.barrywebbauthor.com