The worst way to pay tribute to the victims of 9/11 was to go slaughters thousands of Afghans and Iraqis.

It is useful to bear in mind that the crimes could have been even worse. Suppose, for example, that the attack had gone as far as bombing the White House, killing the president, imposing a brutal military dictatorship that killed thousands and tortured tens of thousands while establishing an international terror center that helped impose similar torture-and-terror states elsewhere and carried out an international assassination campaign; and as an extra fillip, brought in a team of economists — call them “the Kandahar boys” — who quickly drove the economy into one of the worst depressions in its history. That, plainly, would have been a lot worse than 9/11. Unfortunately, it is not a thought experiment. It happened. The only inaccuracy in this brief account is that the numbers should be multiplied by 25 to yield per capita equivalents, the appropriate measure. I am, of course, referring to what in Latin America is often called “the first 9/11”: September 11, 1973, when the U.S. succeeded in its intensive efforts to overthrow the democratic government of Salvador Allende in Chile with a military coup that placed General Pinochet’s brutal regime in office.

– Noam Chomsky

The only special thing about 9/11 is that the victims were White. Otherwise, non-White people die in dozens everyday at the hands of the US and Europe and nobody knows or cares about them.

What is happening with the Yazedis in Iraq is the same that is happening to the Zigris in Balochistan. 

The Pakistani diaspora thinks Islam is an integral part of Pakistan, but little do they know that Islam in that country is a tool of the state and that nobody in provinces like Sindh and Balochistan accepts Islam. You’d hardly find a mosque in Balochistan in fact. 

The Islamic State and the Cost of Governing

When including other illicit activities, its revenues total up to $1.4 to $1.5 billion per year. While this makes it the wealthiest extremist group in the world, it does not make its caliphate model economically viable in the long run. Administering the six provinces where it has majority control (Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor, Salahuddin, Diyala, Anbar, and Nineveh) requires enormous funds and the ability to deliver services to a large territory, home to eight million people (five million in Iraq and three million in Syria). 

In areas under IS control, costly repairs and reconstruction efforts are required, including work on roads, electrical grids, schools, and hospitals. In Deir ez-Zor, a province home to 1.6 million people prior to the Syrian war, there were 27 hospitals and over 1,000 schools. Raqqa likewise housed about one million people with 13 hospitals and over 1,300 schools, but much of this infrastructure is now destroyed or inoperable.4 With similar population sizes, the Anbar and Diyala regions in Iraq would need comparable reconstruction efforts. 

The reconstruction and repair needs aside, just the cost to run these areas seems to exceed the Islamic State’s income. For example, the official budget for Salahuddin province was $409 million this year, Anbar’s budget was $1.153 billion in 2010, Diyala’s budget in 2012 was $123 million, and Nineveh’s in 2013 was $840 million, totaling over $2.6 billion in Iraq alone. Although the budgetary needs in Syria are more difficult to estimate, as the provinces do not have independent budgets, the amount required would be sizable nonetheless. The Syrian government set an $8.18 billion fiscal budget in 2014 merely for areas under its control to cover food and fuel subsidies and public salaries, among other expenses. If IS seeks to finance its armed expansionist push, it would face a significant deficit, exclusive of reconstruction costs, applying past administrative budgets for these regions. With subsidies maintained, this deficit will be even greater. If IS prioritizes its expansion, this would come at the expense of existing administrative and military expenses for services in Iraq and Syria—and without such services the public backlash would be considerable.

(Source : carnegieendowment.org)

The pendulum of the Islamic State

Discomfort is palpable in the regional capitals. U.S. air strikes cannot destroy IS. The canny IS prefers to swing across the vast territory that it threatens. A proper ground assault against IS cannot come because of the contradictions of U.S. policy in the region. In Iraq, U.S. air power did not only deliver the advantage to the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga, but also to the Turkish and Syrian Kurdish fighters (the YPG and the PKK). Turkey and the U.S. see the PKK as a terrorist organisation, although it and its Syrian ally the YPG have been fierce in their defence of what they called Western Kurdistan (Rojava or north-eastern Syria). The Shiite militias of Iraq (Badr and Salaam Brigades as well as the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq) and the Shiite militia of Lebanon (Hezbollah) have also been unyielding against the IS — again the U.S. and the Europeans claim Hezbollah is a terrorist organisation and they hold the Badr Brigades, trained by Iran, at arm’s length.

Syrian armed power, degraded by its long civil war and by defections to the Free Syrian Army, is still strong enough to seriously damage the long-term prospects of the IS. But Syria’s regime has restricted its Army to defend its main corridor between Damascus and the coastline. It will not direct its armies to the north. To do so would leave it vulnerable to the rebels’ Southern Front, which continues to be egged on by the West to seize Damascus. The U.S. trains Syrian rebels in the deserts of eastern Jordan. Full Syrian participation against the IS will not happen if the threat to Damascus remains intact. Major U.S. allies in the region, such as Turkey and Jordan also seem in two minds. Jordan has indicated to the U.S. that it will defend its borders, but it does not want to enter the conflict. The King’s advisers fear that al-Nusra and the IS have cells amongst the close to a million Syrian refugees in the country, and amongst Jordan’s home-grown radicals. Turkey’s economy has taken a hit from the emergence of IS – markets in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria are no longer easily accessible. Legitimate trade has been eclipsed by smugglers, including those who traffic jihadis and journalists as well as IS- delivered oil from Syria’s Omar oilfields. Despite threats to Turkey, its new Prime Minister Ahmet Davutog˘lu can only bring himself to describe the IS as “a radical organisation with a terrorist-like structure.” Options for Jordan and Turkey remain limited, mainly by their commitments to the overthrow of Assad.

Responsibility for the emergence of the IS vests with a number of key actors. The United States’ reckless war on Iraq created the reservoir for jihadis, as money from the Gulf Arabs came to sustain them in an emerging sectarian clash against an ascendant Iran. The narrow and suffocating Assad and al-Maliki regimes – which alienated large sections of Sunnis – propelled the disenfranchised to reckless rebellion. In 2007, the cartoonist Ali Ferzat said of the process called the Damascus Spring (2005), “either reform or le deluge [the flood].” It was the flood. Alienated people who measure their alienation in sectarian terms (Sunni) cannot be only defeated in the battlefield. Political reforms need to be on the cards. So too must an alternative to the economic agenda pursued in both Iraq and Syria since the mid-2000s. Under U.S. pressure, the Assad and al-Maliki governments pursued neo-liberal policies that increased inequality and despair. Absent a politics of class, the platforms against neo-liberal corruption took on a harsh sectarian cast. The IS fed on that alienation for its own diabolical agenda. It can be halted by air strikes and degraded by ground warfare. But only if the social conditions that produced the IS — the inequality and the despair — are altered could it be truly vanquished.

In my article yesterday I called Imran Khan a batsman for the Pakistan Army. I was too generous, I apologize. Imran Khan is actually the army`s 12th man — a 12th man in cricket is basically a water boy.