by Ezequiel Doiny
On May 30, 2019 Fox News reported “…Hundreds of acres of wheat fields around Kirkuk in northern Iraq were set on fire. Several wheat fields in the Daquq district in southern Kirkuk burned for three days straight last week.
Farmers in the village of Ali Saray, within Daquq’s borders, struggled to put out the blazes. The militants had laid land mines in the field, so when help arrived in the village of Topzawa Kakayi, the explosives went off and seriously wounded two people, according to the local agriculture department and farmers.
In eastern Syria’s Raqqa province, farmers battled raging fires with pieces of cloth, sacks and water trucks. Piles of hay burned and black smoke billowed above the fields.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than 74,000 acres (30,000 hectares) of farmland in Hassakeh, Raqqa and all the way to Aleppo province to the west, were burned…
Activist Omar Abou Layla said local Kurdish-led forces failed to respond to the fires in the province of Deir el-Zour, where IS was uprooted from its last territory in March, deepening the crisis.
Other residents accuse the Syrian government, which used to earn millions from the wheat trade in eastern Syria, of sparking the fires to undermine the Kurdish-led administration, which now operates independently of the central government.
Kurdish authorities acknowledge they have few capabilities to deal with the arsons…
In western Syria, a government military offensive against the country’s last rebel stronghold has also left thousands of acres of farms in ashes, in what activists and experts say is a calculated move to deny the locals livelihood and force them to leave the enclave, home to 3 million people.
Beals, the Syria expert, said the government used similar tactics when it besieged Daraya and eastern Ghouta, other rebel areas outside of the Syrian capital, Damascus, eventually forcing the fighters to surrender as early as 2015 and 2016. Throughout the conflict, various warring parties have used food crops as a way of controlling the population.
Beals said crop burning in rebel-held Idlib province in northern Syria is likely the latest chapter in this playbook and “will impact food security and the ability to eke out a small living for some.” She added that the scale of crop burning is much larger in Idlib than other areas…”
Many Sunni Muslims were forced to leave their homes during the war in Syria, many more are being forced to leave now by arsons on farmlands that deny locals livelihood. Iran is quickly repopulating the area with Shia Muslims so when the local displaced Sunni Muslims try to return, they find their homes occupied. On January 13, 2017 the Guardian reported “…For the first time since the conflict broke out, people are starting to return. But the people settling in are not the same as those who fled during the past six years.
The new arrivals have a different allegiance and faith to the predominantly Sunni Muslim families who once lived there. They are, according to those who have sent them, the vanguard of a move to repopulate the area with Shia Muslims not just from elsewhere in Syria, but also from Lebanon and Iraq.
The population swaps are central to a plan to make demographic changes to parts of Syria, realigning the country into zones of influence that backers of Bashar al-Assad, led by Iran, can directly control and use to advance broader interests…”
Not only Sunni Muslims are prevented to return home, Christians are also affected. On April 11, 2019 Carl Anderson wrote in the Wall Street Journal ” Christian towns in Iraq increasingly look neither Christian nor Iraqi – but Iranian.
The religious minorities persecuted under the ISIS caliphate remain in peril, thanks to the Iraqi government’s tolerance of Iranian influence.
With their towns liberated, displaced Christians hoped to return, rebuild and work for a better future. But as ISIS fell, Iranian-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces quickly took root in the devastated, previously Christian towns and have made life nearly unbearable for Christians attempting to return.
Iranian proxies now are conducting a program of colonization in the Iraqi sector – building homes and centers for Iraq’s Shiite majority in historically Christian towns.
Iran is conducting a program of colonization and taking over the lands depopulated by ISIS. It is puzzling that ISIS fighters (Sunni Muslims) target mostly Christians and other Sunni Muslims,not Shia Muslims. On December 12, 2018 Tom Rogan wrote in the Washington Examiner “Seven more Islamic State mass graves have been found in Syria…the vast majority would also have been moderate Sunni Muslims, belonging to the Sunni Arab tribes of Deir ez-Zor province. So if these victims were Sunni Muslims, just like the ISIS fighters, why did the latter so brutally kill them?”
https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/isis-spends-most-of-its-time-and-energy-killing-muslims-and-its-mass-graves-tell-the-tale Why ISIS killed Sunni Arabs?
On July 2016 Brad Macdonald explained in the Trumpet “Like most national, tribal, ethical and religious relationships in the Middle East, the relationship between the Islamic State and Iran is not nearly as simple as many Westerners believe.
Evidence proves that Iran and the Islamic State are not archenemies. In fact, Iran is at least partly responsible for the Islamic State’s creation!
In his article “Iran Is More Deeply Tied to isis Than You Think,” Benjamin Decker provides a detailed explanation of Iran’s involvement in the creation of various Sunni terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda. He writes, “As the West continues to partner with Iran to ‘degrade and ultimately destroy’ the Islamic State, it is worth remembering that one of Iran’s highest-ranking terrorists was instrumental in founding al Qaeda, and that the split between Shia and Sunni jihadis is murky at best” (Tower, December 2015).
The Islamic State emerged from al Qaeda in Iraq. Decker continues: “Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the rise of al Qaeda in Iraq (aqi), the predecessor to the Islamic State, has been well documented; comparably little attention has been given to the group’s global reach.
While the Islamic State was born out of Osama bin Laden’s global jihad against the West, many overlook the importance of another player in the equation—Iran.
“This may seem surprising given that Iran, the stalwart of the Shia Crescent, is currently embroiled in a regional war against the Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq. However, Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security, described as one of the ‘largest and most dynamic intelligence agencies in the Middle East’ by the Pentagon’s Irregular Warfare Support Program, has, over the past 20 years, provided financial, material, technological and other support services to aqi.”
This article explains in detail Iran’s history with grooming and training key Sunni terrorist leaders, and financing and supplying weapons and tactical assistance to various Sunni terrorist groups.
An article from the Tower’s website, “The Different Stages of Iranian Support for isis,” said, “Recent reports that Iran is supporting isis through its funding of Hamas are a reminder that the Islamic Republic has long backed the powerful jihadist group and its predecessors in a variety of ways.
“In 2012, the United States Treasury Department exposed the extensive financial ties between Iran and al Qaeda in Iraq” (Dec. 16, 2015).
Again, this is the terrorist organization that evolved into the Islamic State!
…The April 2016 issue of Tablet contains an interesting interview with Abdul Halim Khaddam, former vice president and foreign minster of Syria. This man understands the way the Middle East works, and he understands Iran. In the interview, Khaddam revealed that Syrian strongman Assad—who is an Iranian proxy—and the Islamic State are partners.
“It is a fact that Daesh [an Arabic name for the Islamic State] does not fight the government in Damascus any more than the government in Damascus bombs Daesh,” he explained.
“Although it is Sunni, Daesh’s roots are in Iran—in a group of ex-officers of the Iraqi Presidential Guard that went to train in Iran and that Iran accepted because they thought they could use them later—and their calculation proved right. Daesh worked with Iran and with the Syrian regime to get the Americans away from Iraq.
The idea was to then share the territory between Sunnis and Shiites, an arrangement which the Iranians refused once the U.S. were gone.”
It is dangerous to assume that Iran thinks the same way about the Islamic State as the West does. The truth is, the Islamic State’s rise has proven enormously beneficial to Iran, the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism.
First, the Islamic State has distracted America and the West from Iran’s terrorist activities…
Second, the presence of the Islamic State gives Iran an opportunity to refashion its reputation in the region and globally. Iran’s leaders regularly deliver statements promising to defend the persecuted from the Islamic State and bring stability to Iraq and the broader region. Tehran is exploiting the violence and instability created by isis to cast itself as the region’s savior. Iran’s leaders have promised to rescue Iraq, as well as Christians and other isis victims. Compared to the Islamic State, Iran seems like a picture of moderation.
Third, the rise of the Islamic State has provided Iran with the opportunity to bolster its military presence in Iraq and Syria. Iranian officials, soldiers and intelligence personnel are setting up offices all over Iraq and Syria, all under the guise of fighting the Islamic State. If isis’s presence in Iraq and Syria diminishes, keep an eye on who fills the power vacuum. It will be Iran!
When you consider all the facts, it is obvious that the rise of the Islamic State has actually made Iran stronger. The isis threat has boosted Iran’s reputation in the international community. It has enabled Iran to extract concessions from America and the West. It has improved Iran’s strategic position in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. And it is undermining, both directly and indirectly, Iran’s primary opponents in the region, most notably Saudi Arabia…”
Iran used ISIS to mass murder the Sunni Muslims that opposed its advances in Syria and Iraq. When the mass graves of Sunni Muslims were found, ISIS was blamed and Iran avoided war crime charges.
Iran used ISIS to ethnically cleanse the Sunni Muslim population from parts of Syria and Iraq and then replaced it with Shia Muslims.
On November 1, 2017 Robert Windrem wrote in NBC news “A document seized the night Navy SEALs killed Osama Bin Laden suggests that Al Qaeda and Iran had a relationship more complicated and intimate than previously known — one that included threats and kidnappings, but also occasional cooperation. The document was among a massive trove of material released Wednesday by the CIA following a request by the Long War Journal, a website that has chronicled the U.S. war on terrorism…” https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/newly-released-bin-laden-document-describes-iran-al-qaeda-link-n816681
Ezequiel Doiny is author of “Obama’s Assault on Jerusalem’s Western Wall”