Archive for the ‘Mideast Wars’ Category

Turkish Attacks on Kurds Raises Questions

17 Dec

Turkish forces bombed Kurdish PKK rebels based in northern Iraq in aerial attacks on December 1st and on December 16th, with both attacks aided by intelligence supplied by the United States. Earlier in the Autumn, Turkey hinted at an invasion of northern Iraq to get at the rebels, a move opposed by both the U.S. and the Iraqi government.

While the Turks are within their rights to strike at an enemy combatant force with whom they have been at war with since the 1980s, the U.S. is not the sovereign power in Iraq; officially, sovereign power rests with the Iraqi government in Baghdad, and reports indicate that the government, especially the Kurdish members of the government are quite angry at this attack and at U.S. complicity.

While the U.S. can claim that it is aiding a fellow NATO member defend itself, and that the PKK is considered a terrorist group, allowing the Turks to strike inside Iraq does open up the question of what the Bush Administration would do if Iran launched a similar cross-border strike against their own Kurdish rebels who also use northern Iraq as a base.

U.S. Helps Turkey Hit Rebel Kurds In Iraq: Intelligence Role Could Complicate Diplomacy–Washington Post, December 18, 2007

Turkey’s U.S.-Backed Strike in Iraq–Time, Dec. 17, 2007


Anglo-Iraqi Wars

17 Nov

This page lists and explains the five wars fought between the United Kingdom and Iraq. The word "Anglo" refers to England, once known as "Angle Land," which is part of the island of Great Britain, which is the primary part of the United Kingdom.

1st Anglo-Iraq War: May 1920 to Feb. 1921

The Great Iraqi Revolution (known in Iraq as Ath Thawra al Iraqiyya al Kubra and by the British as the Arab Revolt of 1920-Rebellion by Iraqi Arabs against the rule of the British Mandate. The rebellion was suppressed by the British military. This can be considered the First Anglo-Iraqi War.

The immediate causes of this conflict arose out of the results of the British conquest of the Mesopotamian region from the Ottoman Turks during World War I. Following that war, the British established, with League of Nations approval, a colonial-style Mandate over the region now named “Iraq.” Many Iraqi nationalists, who believed independence would result from the ejection of the Turks, were severely disappointed with the establishment of the British Mandate. Other, related events and issues also inflamed Iraqi Arab opinion against the British. The Mandate government almost completely excluded Iraqis, as the British imported experienced civil servants from India (also ruled by Britain) to help administer the country. In northern Iraq, the British allowed thousands of Christian refugees escaping persecution in Turkey, to settle in mostly Muslim Iraq.

2nd Anglo-Iraq War: April 18, 1941 to May 30, 1941

The Anglo-Iraqi War of 1941, also known as the Rashid Ali Coup, was a relatively small, but very significant part of the Second World War. Since the ending of the British Mandate and the advent of full Iraqi independence in 1932, Britain retained a great deal of military influence in Iraq, despite lingering opposition from many Arab nationalists. One of these nationalists, Rashid Ali, seized power in Baghdad and refused British requests to allow British military forces to enter Iraq. Britain at this time was fighting German and Italian forces in North Africa and were preparing to invade Vichy French-held Syria. (The Vichy French were working with the Germans and British and Free French forces needed to secure the region). Believing promises of German support, Rashid Ali ordered his forces to attack British bases in western Iraq and to oppose the landing of British forces at the southern city of Basra. German support appeared in the form of a small number of Luftwaffe fighter planes, and the British forces quickly defeated the Iraqi military.

3rd Anglo-Iraq War: Aug. 2, 1990 to Feb. 1991

The Second Persian Gulf War (Also known as “Operation Desert Storm”)— On August 2, 1990, Iraqi forces invaded and quickly conquered the small, oil-rich emirate of Kuwait. Almost immediately, an international coalition of nations gathered a powerful military force under the authority of the United Nations and the leadership of the United States, first to defend the oil-rich kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and secondly, to force Iraq to withdraw from occupied Kuwait. From the beginning of the crisis, the United Kingdom, led by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, worked very closely with the U.S. in assuming a determined posture against Saddam Hussein’s territorial ambition. Click on the blue link above for more detail on the war.

4th Anglo-Iraq War: 1991 to March 19, 2003

The "No-Fly Zone War" pitted the air and naval forces of the United States and the United Kingdom against the air defenses of Iraq. This conflict was a direct result of the agreements which ended the fighting in the Second Persian Gulf War (Also known as “Operation Desert Storm”). Click on the blue "No-Fly Zone War" link above for more detail on the war.

5th Anglo-Iraq War: March 19, 2003 to Present

The Third Persian Gulf War , known as "Operation Telic" by the British, and "Operation Iraqi Freedom" by the U.S., ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein from power and led to the occupation of Iraq by British and American forces. Click on the blue link above for more detail on the war.

Please cite this source when appropriate:

Lee, R. "The History Guy: Anglo-Iraq Wars

Pages on Middle Eastern History

Iraq War

Gulf War

Arab-Israeli Conflict

Wars of Egypt

The Barbary Wars

Wars of Iraq

Anglo-Iraqi Wars

Anglo-Iraqi War of 1941

Saudi-Yemen Conflict

Iranian HostageCrisis 

"No-Fly Zone" War

Attack on the USS Cole

Yemeni Tribal Uprising (1998)


Kurds At War: Turkey, Iraq, and Iran

22 Oct

The latest news on the Kurds’ fight for independence from and/or autonomy from Turkey threatens to drag the U.S. into a conflict (or at least an argument) that it neither wants nor needs right now. Though it may also prove the spark that sets the whole region aflame.

The Kurdish resistance forces fighting the Turkish government call themselves the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), a group formed in the late 1970s which took up arms against the Ankara government in 1984.  The PKK has long enjoyed a safe haven in northern Iraq, which is home to the closest thing the Kurds have to an actual country.  The PKK recently killed a dozen Turkish soldiers in southeastern Turkey (aka Turkish Kurdistan), prompting the Turkish government to threaten an invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan in an attempt to root out the PKK bases there.  It should be noted that in recent weeks, Iran has been shelling the bases of its own Kurdish resistance movement, called Kurdish Party of Free Life in Kurdistan (PEJAK).  Those bases are also located in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The problem for the United States is that the Iraqi Kurds are America’s only real allies in Iraq, and they have set up a thriving enclave of freedom and relative prosperity for themselves in the post-Saddam era.  An era that is possible only due to the military and diplomatic protection offered by the United States.  Of course, if one looks at history, it is clear that the U.S actually owes the Kurds quite a bit for America’s past betrayals of the Iraqi Kurds. 

In the 1970s, the CIA, along with the Shah of Iran (pre-Islamic Republic, of course), supported the Kurds in their long struggle against Saddam’s tyranny; until it no longer remained in America’s or Iran’s best interest to support them. In 1975, Saddam and the Shah (two thoroughly undemocratic despots) struck a deal that settled some old border disputes between them, and the Shah and his CIA buddies quickly shut off the flow of arms to the Kurds, and denied them border bases from which to fight Baghdad.  Saddam then crushed the Kurds.  In the 1980s, Saddam was at war with the post-Shah Iran and the Kurds rose up once again in their struggle for freedom.  Saddam gassed them.  Since Iraq was temporarily America’s ally against Iran, not much was said in Washington about this act of genocide.  Then, in the ultimate act of hypocrisy, the first Bush Administration, which normally got things right in the foreign policy department, encouraged both the northern Kurds and the southern Shiites to rise up against Saddam, but then stood by while his elite and ruthless  Republican Guard, which largely escaped the thrashing by the Allies in Kuwait, crushed both revolts while America’s huge army in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia stood by and did nothing.

So, what does the history of Iraq’s brutality towards Iraqi Kurds and America’s continual betrayal have to do with Turkey’s movements along the border with Iraqi Kurdistan?  Consider that Turkey is a long-time American ally, as are the Iraqi Kurds.  A war between them will greatly damage America’s interests in the region, endanger American forces, and serve as a huge failure of American diplomacy in the region.  And, if the U.S. stands by and lets Turkey attack across the border, what justification will the Bush Administration have if Iran decides to do the same thing to punish PEJAK?

Now, those who are of a mind to think of conspiracies, it is possible that this scenario is exactly what President Bush (or more likely, Vice-President Cheney) have in mind to occur.  Regardless of the hypocrisy of allowing one attack (by the Turks), and then responding militarily to another attack (by Iran), such a cross-border incursion by Tehran, even in a "legal" hot-pursuit situation, could provide the casus belli that some in Washington seek in order to attack Iran and end the embryonic nuclear threat posed by the Islamic Fascists in Tehran.

The Kurds, who are the world’s largest ethnic group without a country to call their own, are once again caught in the cross-fire of Middle East politics, and the confused dynamics of American foreign policy.

Links of Interest:

Who are the PKK?–National Public Radio, Oct. 22, 2007

Kurdish Secessionism Looms Over the Middle East–Robert Lindsay: Independent Left Journalist From California,May 11, 2006

Iranians shell anti-Iranian Kurdish PEJAK guerrillas in Iraqi Kurdistan–Kurd Net, May 23, 2007 


Is An Iran War Brewing?

19 Oct

Recent events in the Middle East and elsewhere raise the question, not of if, but when, a U.S.-led war on Iran will begin.

Some points to ponder:

         1.  Turkey (an Iran neighbor) is threatening to attack Kurdish rebel (PKK) bases in northern Iraq (also an Iran neighbor).

         2.  Iran has recently been shelling Kurdish rebel (PEJAK) bases in northern Iraq.

         3.  Recent war fears related to the Turkey/Kurd conflict pushed oil prices past the $90 a barrel mark.

         4.  Evidence mounts that Vice-President Dick Cheney is urging President Bush to launch a war on Iran prior to Jan. 20, 2008, when they both must leave office to make way for the new president.  Most likely such an attack on Iran will take place after the election, so as to not affect the Republican nominee’s chances of winning.  See Rolling Stone Magazine’s recent article.

         5.  Some conspiracy theorists contend that the recent revelation of an unauthorized  nuclear-armed B-52 flight across the United States was not truly some kind of incredible error or once-in-a-lifetime chain of events leading to a huge mistake, but a part of some conspiracy or cover-up.  One theory is that the nuclear-tipped cruise missiles were intended for the Middle East and for targets in Iran, and that the flight to Louisiana was some sort of quiet "rebellion" in the ranks of the Air Force.  See ZnetAtlantic Free Press

          6.  Israel’s recent air strike on Syria looks more and more like an Osirak-style raid to stop an Arab nation from acquiring nuclear weapons.  The New York Times and ABC News report that the target in Syria was a nuclear facility being built with North Korean aid.

          7.  Iran and Russia are getting cozy, and Russia is Iran’s main supplier of weapons.  The Bush administration may be tempted to attack Iran soon, before the Moscow-Tehran relationship turns into a real alliance. 

The world is at a vital turning point.  A U.S. attack on Iran could have serious consequences for the entire world.  These recent events show that strange things are occurring and the world public is left wondering.  We shall see what the future holds…



Stormfront: The Consequences of September 11 and America’s Wars Around the World

11 Sep

So, what are the real consequences of September 11, 2001 on how America wages war around the world?  That would seem to be an stupid question with an obvious answer:  The U.S. invaded Afghanistan to retaliate against al-Qaida and its Taliban allies, and later invaded Iraq to prevent Saddam Hussein from developing weapons of mass destruction and initiating a nuclear (or biological/chemical) 9/11.  (Those are the "official" versions of the reasons, by the way).

What many do not realize, largely because the mainstream media ignores or downplays them, is that the United States (and its allies) have been very, very active militarily around the world since the terrorist attacks of September 11 in their efforts to combat radical Islamic militants.

One of the first publicly acknowledged military efforts (after Afghanistan), was the deployment of U.S. Special Forces troops to the Philippines to aid the government there against the Abu Sayyaf rebels in the largely Muslim southern islands.

Another area the U.S. intervened in was the ongoing struggle in Yemen, an Arab country to the south of Saudi Arabia.  There, some of the tribes in the countryside who traditionally cause trouble for the central government, began working with al-Qaida.  This resulted in the U.S. providing aid to the Yemeni government and occasionally popping fugitive al-Qaida terrorists with Hellfire missiles fired from Predator drone aircraft.

Those Predator drones, by the way, are based in tiny Djibouti, a former French colony across the Mandab Straits from Yemen.  American Special Forces, (and, one would assume, Central Intelligence Agency officers), are based as a quick-reaction force for the entire Horn of Africa region.  A more recent, and so far tactically successful intervention, was American aid for the Ethiopian invasion/intervention against Islamist forces in Somalia in December of 2006. U.S. Special Forces traveled with the Ethiopian Army, and the U.S. military launched air and missile attacks on suspected Somali Islamists and al-Qaida fugitives.

American Special Forces also have aided allied nations in improving their defenses, including the Republic of Georgia (formerly an oppressed region of the late, unlamented Soviet Union), who have their own issues as a neighbor of Russia and the rebellious Muslim Russian region of Chechnya.

During last summer’s war in the Mid-East between Israel and Hezbollah, the U.S. re-supplied the Israeli military with ammunition and other materiel to aid the Israelis in their fight against the Islamic militant army.

The U.S. has also given significant material aid to Lebanon in its recent fight against al-Qaida allies in northern Lebanon.

Al-Qaida of course, has not been idle, as bin Laden’s organization maintains insurgencies against U.S. allies in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Thailand, Algeria, Egypt, Libya (yes, the U.S. and Libya kissed and made up, largely because Kaddafy saw the ease with which American forces seized Baghdad), Ethiopia, and is active in undermining government authority in other nations. 

Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida declared war on America in 1996, and few Americans paid him any attention.  He attacked us in 1998, with the African Embassy bombings, and again in 2000, with an attack on the USS Cole.  The assault on 9/11/2001 finally snapped America out of its comfortable sense of security, and the United States launched its Global War on Terror.  Does anyone doubt that this is truly a "World War?"

We will come back to this theme in the future…


The Calm Before The Storm: The World of September 10, 2001

10 Sep

Here it is; the eve of another 9/11 anniversary.  I no longer bother watching the politicians give speeches at Ground Zero, the Pentagon, or in Pennsylvania.  Six years on now, and I look at a changed world.

Prior to September 11, 2001, few Americans, even those who watched the news regularly or read the newspapers would could have told you anything about Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida, or the Taliban if asked.  Never mind that bin Laden had declared war on the U.S. back in 1996, and then followed up with attacks against American Embassies in Africa in 1998 and an attack on the USS Cole in 2000; Americans, as a whole, had no idea what was about to hit us.

In the world of September 10, 2001, America’s (and President Bush’s) primary international fear was China.  A recent collision between American and Chinese military planes had caused a ripple of concern for relations between the two powers.  American students generally cared little for the outside world.  The Middle East was known primarily as the place a lot of oil came from, and the location of Saddam Hussein.  By the way, it is generally forgotten that the U.S. and the U.K. were actively conducting aerial warfare against Iraq, and protecting/occupying a large swath of northern Iraq inhabited by the long-oppressed Kurds.

And then there was Afghanistan.  A country largely ignored by America and the non-Islamic world after the big, bad Soviets ended their war against Islamic Jihadists.  Bin Laden was a part of that Islamic resistance movement, but few Americans outside of the CIA and a few history/military affairs geeks among the civilian population bothered to remember that bin Laden (like Saddam in another war), was once on the side that was shooting at our avowed enemies.  Did that make them our friends?  No, just useful tools to fight and weaken our opponents of the moment.

So what does all this talk of the world as it stood on the day before al-Qaida attacked America really mean?  Only that history often turns on events that have links and connections to related, yet often largely unknown events, movements, and people.

Should Americans have seen bin Laden as a vital threat?  Obviously yes, we should have seen him as the threat he proved himself to be.  Are we any different now?  Has America learned its lesson yet? 

Of course not!  Ask any high school or college history teacher in the U.S.  Americans as a whole do not pay much attention to history (unless presented on the History Channel and features lots of explosions and maybe a glimpse or two of Hitler), and that is an ongoing problem.  How many Americans can answer this question?

Has the U.S. and China ever fought a war against each other?  And if so, can you name the wars?  Can you, Dear Reader of this Blog, answer that question without googling it?

This is not an idle question, because one of the more obvious results of the 9/11 attacks and America’s response has been the now four-year-old War in Iraq.  The current war is often compared and contrasted with the American war in Vietnam.  Is it accurate to compare them?  What are the consequences of America’s collective lack of knowledge of the world and its history?  Middle East Muslims remember and talk about the medieval Crusades like they happened last year.  Most Americans could not even explain what the Crusades were about.  Those questions are best addressed in a blog post for another day.  

The next History Guy Blog post will actually be about 9/11 and what has so far resulted from that horrible day.  Stay tuned!


Mideast War Fears: Israel versus Syria Again?

14 Aug

As the summer of 2007 wears on, talk of yet another Arab-Israeli War stirs concerns for the region’s stability.  Israel and Syria have fought four major wars against each other since 1948, along with numerous border clashes and airstrikes.  Israelis (and the U.S. government) consider much of Israel’s warfare in Lebanon against the Palestinians and Hezbollah over the past 30 plus years to have been proxy warfare sponsored by the Syrian Baathist regime in Damascus.  Add to the mix the fact that many of the foreign Islamist militants engaged against American and Coalition forces in Iraq receive some sort of assistance and safe harbor in Syria.

One year ago this summer, Israel fought a fruitless war against Hezbollah in Lebanon.  Syria, and Syria’s wealthy ally, Iran, supported Hezbollah in that war, and it is believed that elements of the Syrian government are attempting to push their nation into war with Israel.

A little background will help here:

In 1948, Israel declared independence, becoming the world’s only Jewish state in the territory formally known as the British Mandate in Palestine.  The Arabs living in Palestine (who are now known as Palestinians), did not like the idea of living in a Jewish nation, and the Arab nations surrounding Israel/Palestine also disliked the idea of Jews having their own country in land they considered Arab territory.  Thus, in May of 1948, (only three years to the month after the end of the Nazi genocide of Jews called the Holocaust), six Arab nations invaded the new-born state of IsraelSyria was one of those invaders.  When the war reached an end (a truce took hold, really), the Syrians returned across their own border.  Though the two nations did not fight a major war against each other for another 19 years, many border clashes took place. (see Arab-Israeli Border Wars and Incidents

Then, in 1967, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt (with aid and approval from the Soviet Union), planned an attack on Israel.  On June 6, 1967, Israel struck first, devastating the military power of all three Arab neighbors, as well as decimating the Iraq Air Force on the ground.  Out of this quick Six-Day War, Israel seized the Golan Heights, a plateau that overlooked lower ground in neighboring Israel.  The Israelis decided to keep the Golan Heights to prevent the Syrian military from using it as a base for further attacks on Israel.  This has been a point of contention between the hostile neighbors ever since, as Syria wants its territory back, and Israel continues to distrust the dictatorship in Damascus.

The last major clash between Israel and Syria came in 1982, when Israeli forces invaded Lebanon, intending to destroy the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) of Yassir Arafat.  Syria at the time, had tens of thousands of troops and large numbers of anti-aircraft missile batteries in Lebanon, part of a force that had intervened in the long Lebanese Civil War.  As Israeli forces advanced into Lebanon, tank battles between the American-made Israeli tanks and the Soviet-made Syrian tanks ensued, with the Syrians taking heavy losses.  Syria also lost one hundred warplanes over the skies of Lebanon in a large air battle with the Israeli Air Force.  The Israelis also wiped out many Syrian anti-aircraft batteries. 

For the remainder of Israel’s Lebanon War (which ended with an Israeli pullout in 2000), and also during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War, Syria contented itself with supporting Israel’s Lebanese foes, rather than engaging in open combat.

By the summer of 2007, Israeli forces were working feverishly to upgrade their abilities in light of a poor showing in the 2006 war, while at the same time, Syria’s military was rearming with new Russian-made weapons.  There are those who believe that General Asef Shawkat, the head of Syrian Intelligence, and the brother-in-law of Syrian President Bashar Assad, is pushing for a war with Israel.

A new Arab-Israeli War would be problematic, not in the least because there is no guarantee that Israel and its military would win, or even put in a decent showing.  Israel’s poor performance in the Second Lebanon War of 2006, and the relative weakness and military naivete of Israeli Prime Minister Olmert may embolden some in Syria’s government that Syria might be able to force Israel to give up the Golan through force.  Few believe that Israel could be pushed off the Heights, but a good showing by Syria, especially if they can inflict heavy casualties on Israel, may force Jerusalem to the bargaining table.  After all, Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat launched the 1973 October War (alongside Syria), and did end up negotiating a return of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula from Israel.  It is not inconceivable that Assad may be thinking along those same lines.  Also, Israel can look at history as well, and see that an attack may be coming (or think that an attack is coming) and launch a pre-emptive strike ala 1967. 

And how many thousands will die, be maimed, be made homeless if war does come?  Only God (whether you call him Jehovah, Christ, or Allah), knows for sure. 

Syrian general mulling war with Israel–, Aug. 14, 2007

War Clouds over the Golan –By P. David Hornik, Aug. 15, 2007

Israel and Syria seek to calm war fears–, Aug. 14, 2007

Israel eyes Syria’s growing military–United Press International, Aug. 13, 2007