Palmyra, Syria, Recaptured by Assad/Russians From ISIS
Reminder: Trump said he would work with Russia to rid Syria, Iraq and the World of ISIS.
Obama is doing this by default!
President Assad of Syria, aided by the Russians/Putin, just recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra from ISIS! There is a better than even chance that Assad/Putin will eventually, maybe before Obama leaves office, rid Syria of ISIS and eliminate its “caliphate’s capital” stronghold in Al-Raqqah.
Elimination of Syrian Rebels: Further, during the purge of ISIS, Assad/Putin will most assuredly take out the so-called ally of the West, the Syrian Anti-Assad group, praised by Senators Ted Cruz, John McCain and Lindsay Graham. If this occurs, Syria will remain in Assad’s control as an Alawite dominated nation with close ties to Russia and IRAN. This will effectively “sandwich” Iraq between its two recent enemies, Syria and Iran.
Iraq Reverts to Shia-Then Splits: Iraq, then, will be left to its own devices to deal with the remnants of the Sunni ISIS in Iraq. Please remember that the Sunni ISIS group was founded by members of Saddam’s Sunni army back in 2003 after we invaded Iraq. Saddam Hussein was a despotic Sunni dictator who maintained Sunni control over the Shia and Kurdish inhabitants by brute force. After we eliminated Saddam and tried to set up a coalition government, the country remained divided and crippled and this allowed for Sunni ISIS to raise from the ashes we created.
ISIS then is diametrically opposed to Syria’s Alawite leader Assad, the Kurds in Northern Iraq, and the predominant Shia population in the balance of Iraq, and Shia Iran. Iraq is primarily Shia (62%) like Syria and Iran. Ethnically the Kurds in the North (17% of Iraq’s population) do not associate themselves with their Iraqi co-inhabitants to the South but are more allied with Iran. Eliminating the Sunni-ISIS uprising in Iraq would be a “Holy” victory and return Iraq to its Shia roots!
Iraqi Problems-Ethnic Diversity and Oil: What to do with Iraq after ISIS is defeated is the real question. The major two problems with Iraq is that the disparate groups who were thrown into the same geographic nation back in 1917 by the Europeans and the US, are historically and in some cases ethnically different; and two, the oil fields in Iraq and the multiple pipelines traversing Iraq are not uniformly distributed along ethno-religious lines. If Iraq is subdivided between the Kurds in the North, and then Western and Eastern Iraq, or between the Kurds and the rest of Iraq, the oil wealth would not be disbursed evenly. Some economic arrangement would have to be reached to make this split, or a two way split, as equitable as possible. This would not be easy.
Two Way Split of Iraq: So, how do you divide Iraq and keep some semblance of peace? Probably a two-way split of Iraq would be the easiest alternative. The Kurds in the north could be separated from the rest of Iraq. But the Kurds also lay claim to portions of Turkey and Syria. The Kurds feel some of their land was unlawfully “annexed” into Turkey and Syria in the 1917 realignment. It is estimated that there are approximately 18 million Kurds living in Turkey alone as a result of this division.
The map below will give you an idea how difficult any border realignment would be to segregate the Kurds. The Kurdish populations in the Middle East are shown in Red below. The Kurds have major populations in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran! In a practical sense, there will be no way to establish a unified Kurdish state. At best, the North Eastern and Northern portions of Iraq could be segregated. The Kurds in Syria and Turkey will probably remain segregated. Perhaps an international agreement could be reached with Syria and Turkey to protect the Kurds in those countries. These types of arrangement have always been limited in terms of there success.
Post ISIS Syria, Iraq, Iran and the Kurd nation would look a lot like the pre-Saddam Iraq with the exception of the Kurdish separation. Like, during the cold war, Russia would revert as the major influence in Syria and Iraq and would increase their influence in Iraq. The Kurds would probably remain allied with the West for self preservation! So basically, after 40 decades of US direct involvement in Iraq, Iran and Syria, the original status quo would be re-established!!!
Will Trump be Vindicated?
So while many have criticized Donald Trump’s views of how to defeat ISIS, and return this portion of the Middle East to some semblance of “peace”, his positions, proposed alliances, and predictions may actually come to pass. Most of Trump’s detractors are those who were the architects and players in the US intervention of the region. So Trump may win a bittersweet war of ideas but that will not bring back the 250,000 Syrians who died in the Syrian Civil War; the thousands of Iraqis who died in our two gulf war interventions; the 3,600 or so US military personnel who died in our two gulf war interventions; and the countless Kurds, Iraqis and Syrians who have been killed by ISIS. Nor will it eliminate his critics as they had a bloody hand in the creation of this debacle!
Christian Genocide: One other tragic outcome of these decades has been the systematic genocide of Christians in Syria, Iraq, and Iran at the hands of ISIS, Saddam Hussein, Assad, the Ayatollahs in Iran, and the post war, US supported, Iraqi governments.
Islamic Terrorism will Survive: It is important to note, that even if ISIS is removed from Syria and Iraq, some form of Islamic Terror will continue until we attack that problem at is cultural-religious roots.
In the final analysis, the question will be what lesson, if any, have we learned over the past 30 years? Probably none!