Dr. Munqith M. Dagher, is a bona-fide Iraqi pollster. His polling organization, IIACSS, Iraq, during June 2008, following “more than two years of testing, monitoring and evaluation” of its research practices, was recognized as a full member of the Gallup International Association.
Dr. Dagher was kind enough to send me a recent slide presentation he put together, entitled, “ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] in Iraq: A disease or just the symptoms? A public opinion analysis.”
His presentation included these sobering data (verbatim) which underscored that the violent changes in Mosul were wrought by an indigenous, broad-based Sunni insurgency:
The population of Mosul is around 2,000,000. Most of them are Arab Sunni.
Total number of security forces in Mosul was between 120,000 to 150,000 armed with light, medium and heavy weapons including tanks and air force.
The highest number of ISIL fighters reported by media was 500!!
Who is Fighting in Mosul and the Sunni Areas of Iraq?
- 10-20% ISIL
- Several Iraqi armed groups with full coordination on the ground:
1- Baathist (6 different groups including former Iraqi army officers under the name of Jihad and Liberty Front).
2- Moderate Islamist [note: whatever that means!]
3- Tribal rebels
Dagher concluded, with understatement, “ISIL benefited from the wide, strong dissatisfaction among Sunnis.”
Most striking, were data from 200 telephone interviews of Mosul residents conducted in the period of June 19-21, 2014, i.e., after the city had come under control by the Sunni insurgents, including the jihad terror organization ISIL.
Notwithstanding subsequent dissatisfaction with ISIL, and its newly minted “Caliphate”—already emerging (as documented yesterday, 7/1/14 by the Washington Post’s Loveday Morris) within 3-weeks after the regular Iraqi army and police forces of the al-Maliki central government were crushed, or fled — two key sentiments were apparent in the immediate aftermath of the Sunni takeover:
- 81.5% of Mosul’s predominantly Sunni residents felt more secure after the Sunni insurgents seized control of the city;
- they overwhelmingly rejected—i.e., 84.5% — U.S. involvement with the (longstanding Iranian proxy) Maliki government to repulse the Sunni insurgents, including ISIL.
When President George W. Bush announced the much ballyhooed “surge,” during 2007, he maintained the overall objectives for this great expenditure of precious U.S. blood and treasure were to establish a “...unified, democratic federal Iraq that can govern itself, defend itself, and sustain itself, and is an ally in the War on Terror.” Any rational post-mortem indicates none of those goals were achieved, from either an Iraqi or sober U.S. perspective, even in the near term, let alone chronically.
Before the surge wound down in June, 2008, but at the height of its alleged “success,” a March 2008 poll from Iraq found that 42% of Iraqis labeled attacks on U.S. forces acceptable, and only 4% believed that U.S. forces were responsible for the transient decline in violence. The poll also revealed that 61% maintained that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq was actually worsening the security situation.
In July 2008, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki and Iraqi National security advisor Muwaffaq Al-Rubaie both sought a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops. A cursory, incomplete tally of murderous sectarian Sunni-Shiite car bombings in Iraq for the 4-years after the surge, i.e. June, 2008 through June, 2012 reveals at least 65 with 2000 dead and 2- to 3-fold that number injured, many seriously. More importantly, then Iraqi President Talabani attended an Orwellian Counter-terrorism Conference in Tehran (June 25–26, 2011), just 6-months before the withdrawal of U.S. forces. Not only did our Iraqi “ally” fail to object to the conference agitprop of their Iranian hosts — “defining” the United States and Israel as the primary sources of global terrorism,
In his meeting with Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, [Iran’s Supreme Theocrat Leader]Khamenei said that U.S. power in the Middle East had declined, and that this fact should be taken advantage of against the U.S. Talabani replied that the Iraqis were united in their opposition to the ongoing U.S. presence in their country, and likewise asked for Iranian assistance.
Finally, post-surge Iraq — the paragon of General David Petraeus’ counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine “triumph” — rapidly deteriorated, well-before the emergence of ISIL, per se, into a hotbed of anti-Christian, Islamic brutality.
- As reported December 5, 2011, in the Wall Street Journal, according to Archbishop Louis Sako of the Chaldean Catholic Church in the northern provinces of Kirkuk and Sulimaniya, at least fifty-four Iraqi churches had been bombed and at least 905 Christians killed in various acts of violence since the US invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. Noting that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled, the archbishop stated: “It’s a hemorrhage. Iraq could be emptied of Christians.”
- Archbishop Louis Sako’s assessment was confirmed by a Minority Rights Group International report, released at the end of November 2011, which included these summary findings:
Since 2003, Iraq’s religious minority communities have been targeted for abduction, rape and murder and had their homes and businesses destroyed, specifically because of their faith. They have received threats and intimidations to pay a protection tax, convert to Islam, or leave their homes and country. The violations against religious minorities documented by MRG in its 2010 report continue. Major areas of ongoing concern are Baghdad, Nineveh Plains, Mosul and Kirkuk. . . . Christians are at particular risk for a number of reasons, including religious ties with the West, perceptions that Christians are better off than most Iraqis, and leadership positions in the pre-2003 government. The fact that Christians, along with Yezidis, continue to trade in alcohol in Iraq (both groups have traditionally sold alcohol in Iraq), has also made them a target in an increasingly strict Islamic environment. Waves of targeted violence, sometimes in response to the community’s lobbying for more inclusive policies (for example, reserved seats in elections) have forced the Christian community to disperse and seek refuge in neighboring countries and across the world. In 2003, they numbered between 800,000 and 1.4 million; by July 2011, that number had fallen to 500,000, according to USCIRF [the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom].
While presenting “ISIL in Iraq: A disease or just the symptoms?,” — via hard polling data — last Wednesday, June 25, 2014, at The Freedom House in Washington, D.C., Dr. Dagher warned even U.S. airstrikes, or any allegiances with the Iranian proxy Maliki government, let alone Iran itself, would only embolden ISIL and augment their recruitment. He further admonished the U.S.,
…not to send your sons to fight in Iraq but to let Iraqis and Sunnis fight and kick the devil, which is named ISIL from the territories.
Inchoate signs that this desired phenomenon has begun were reported yesterday (7/1/14) as the Naqshbandi (“Moderate Sufi”) Army Sunnis were clashing with their erstwhile ISIL Sunni allies in the northern Iraq town of Hawijah.
Regardless, we should heed Dagher’s sage advice and stay out of the bloody, internecine sectarian (and even intra-sect) Muslim carnage once again plaguing Iraq. We surged, they never merged, putting the lie to absurd, self-serving hagiographies about the grand Iraq band-aid “stategery,” as Diana West put it so aptly in 2008, “Surge till they Merge.” Nor is it likely the Sunnis and Shiites of “Iraq” ever will “merge.” Perhaps, at long last, an independent Kurdistan — a relative bastion of calm — may emerge from the Mesopotamian morass. Kurdistan may even prove to be a more reliable — such as is possible within Islamdom — “Western ally.”
Hope springs eternal!