The United States and Iranian tensions made headlines over the first week of January 2020. From the airstrikes that triggered an offensive on the U.S. Baghdad Embassy/Green Zone, to the assassination of Qassem Soleimani. Even the Iranian retaliatory airstrikes on U.S. bases in Iraq. All of it revolved around the tension between the two nations.
The show of force has reached an open-ended interim pause with Iran’s airstrike on U.S. military personnel bases in Iraq. This included Baghdad and Erbil. Iran seems to stand down for the time being. As we all assumed, United States President Donald Trump dropped “punishing” sanctions on the regime.
This was done in hopes of stalling the funding of this terror-incentivized Islamic state.
The Middle Eastern conflict, especially the United States and Iran tensions, stretches back decades. Yet over the decades since the Gulf War characterized the true paradigm shift from a trouble foreign region, to a hostile hot spot, many in America have lost a clear understanding of radicalized Islam.
The question is, how did the constant warfare between the U.S. and the Middle East begin? How did we get to where we are today?
Long before the current United States and Iranian tensions and especially The Holy War, the “land war” was a common occurrence of the East. The people groups of the Middle East, before Islamic unification, were incredibly diverse in thought, religion, and culture. This has contributed to the history of their own territory power struggles.
It also has contributed to the vast enterprising and educational systems. These managed to build pre-Islamification during the time of the Renaissance, which was during the mid-Islamic historical era.
Origins Of The Jihad
Jihad origins are not as cut and dry as they may appear.
Hindu Activist Koenraad Elst explained in August of 2019 that the word “Jihad” means “effort in the way of Allah.” His meaning sort of caught people off guard. To most, their assumptions of the word have been clouded over years of turmoil.
Jihads are simply about effective Islamic warfare against all non-Islamic states. Thus, if you do not mesh with their concepts or ideals, YOU are now the enemy. This can even affect nations that have large sections of Muslims.
If you want to read up on the complete history of the origins of jihad philosophy, you can find that in History of Jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS by Robert Spencer.
In short, jihad traces back all the way to Mohammed himself. The Prophet’s latter teachings dictated and justified his conquest of the region. He made full conquest of Arabia. It was through his conquest that he replaced a multicultural society with the monolithic Islamic doctrine.
All conflicts that followed in the Middle East are thus religious hierarchy conflicts at their core. This is by the simple virtue of the fact that Islam was and is a philosophy that became a legally binding system. Islam is as much a political system as it is a philosophical religion in the vicinities of the self-proclaimed “Islamic caliphate”.
The Peak Of Islamic Dominance
As conquest pressed forward, there was a peak time in history when Islam ruled the world effectively. The Middle East and the Sahel of Northern Africa are some of the most resource-rich regions on the planet. The natural resources of this region were a driving appeal for the days of the Islamic Empires.
Today, the foreign enterprise looks to benefit from all that is offered in this locale. It seems it would be at the expense of the national sovereignty for countries such as Iraq. According to the Washington Post, this was even cited during a meeting in the last week or so when the Iraqi parliament voted to eject U.S. troops from Iraq.
The History Of Islamic Empires
Yes, the Islamic State had a series of empires. Because of the chaos within each, they peaked into one of the world’s paramount structures of society. With the arts, literature, education, trade, and military power, they had it all. However, these empires quickly slipped into ruin.
The most famous of the historical Islamic empires is the Ottoman Turkish Empire, which was formed by Ertugrul I. Understanding the origins and saga of the Islamic Golden Age paints a clear picture of jihad patriotism. Militant Islam has a mindset steeped heavily in a previous “glory age”.
The dream is to take back the territories of their ancestral conquests. The feeling is that they are entitled to this because modern governance is illegitimate. This is why understanding territory war is also vital to understanding the move and press of radical Islam moving forward.
There is far more you should look into about their history that we cannot get to, so you can click here to read a piece from Harvard University on the matter.
Territorial Dispute And Radical Jihad
In the modern era, the original struggles of territorial dispute and then Islamic conquest was exacerbated by foreign interests in oil industry enterprising. Radical Islamification then is a product of the modern world. Islamic legal order poses various and direct threats to the democratic legal construct.
When foreign enterprise brought democratic views to a region controlled by Islamic theology, the two natural opposites caused friction.
The September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center was a defining pivot in all previous modern struggles between Westernization and Islamification. The United States perceived this attack as the setback and the end of “pax occidentalis,” or the realization of regional peace through Western Civics.
It had been previously successful when the Eastern bloc fell into collapse in modern history between 1960-1990 era.
Impact Of Post-Soviet Territorial Conflict
The impact of the fall of the Soviet Empire attributed to the Fall, in part. Islamification has touched many regions beyond the immediate apex of Islamic though. This includes Iran, Iraq, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Abu Dabi, Dubai, and various others.
Islamification has also heavily impacted European regions such as Turkey and nearby Bulgaria. It sweeps into Russia, India, Pakistan, Kashmir, the Sahel of Northern Africa, and parts of the Southeast Asia Islands. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union by Gasym Kerimov, Islamic sovereignty rose up opportunistically in the wake of the collapse of the U.S.S.R.
This post-Soviet activity of Islamic occupation was observed by Kerimov circa 1996. It contributed to following up instability of the U.S. Gulf War which transpired between 1990-1991.
The Gulf War
We see the prime impact of oil-territory disputes come to a head when Saddam Hussein invaded his oil-rich neighboring territory in the summer of 1990. The U.S. State Department faced its first full-fledged post-Cold War international crisis when this event took place.
American involvement in the power struggle of Iraqi aggression seizing Kuwait’s oil that contributed heavily to the jihadist crises that led the United States into the War on Terror. This arguably has not ended since it began in 2001.
The Gulf War is largely remembered for Operation Desert Storm, a 100-hour land war that forced Iraqi forces from Kuwait.
While well-meaning and essential to the U.S. oil interests of the region, Iraq itself has been locked in territorial occupation dispute with Iran for a large percentage of its history. To involve Iraq is to involve Iran. To involve either in a war over the supply and demand of the oil wells also involves the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
One cannot tip a domino in the Middle East without tipping another. This is because regional diversity and claims to ancestral land predate the Islamic theology.
Islamic theology merely unites the diversification in a common conquest cause. It opposes factions first, then of “infidel” states. The United States of America has been public enemy number one for the better part of 30 years. That’s unless we’re counting Israel and the threat they pose to Islamic Conquest.
You can read more about the need for the recontextualization of Arab events from out of the domino theory, especially in regards to ‘Indignants’ and ‘Occupy” movements at Society and Space.
The Islamic Caliphate
According to the Rand Institute, there was once an ambitious jihadi leader by the name of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In 2014, the Islamic State conducted blitzkrieg-styled operations into numerous Iraqi cities, including Mosul. The blitzkrieg launching parties began strategic land seizures in key districts of Syria and Iraq. It’s easy to compare al-Baghdadi and Adolf Hitler at this point.
Then al-Baghdadi came forward with a declaration of a pan-Islamic caliphate. One that would bring in the theaters of the Middle East, Africa (with special regards to the Sahel of North Africa), Europe, and North America.
The unified Islamic Caliphate reached its peak in 2014 but was soon on the path to collapse. In Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State took control over 45,377 square kilometers and somewhere around 2.5 million people by 2017. Yet it’s a rapid decline from the conquest made in 2014.
The Islamic State had a sort of rapid burn scope of development. The unified caliphate was the direct byproduct of American intervention in Iraq and then “subsequent departure.”
Intervention around 2003 shifted the understood political ecosystem and introduced “foreign” thought. Iraq’s political control shifted from a Sunni predominate minority toward the Shia majority. This left the Sunnis disgruntled and divided with a vague sense of purpose to follow.
When the United States withdrew forces in 2011, a Civil War followed in Syria. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took advantage of the unrest in the regime. The Islamic Caliphate was then able to move into Syria.
In a political move that came from a failed attempt to assert his authority in a well-established Al-Qaida region, al-Baghdadi split from the parent organization. In 2014, this established the Islamic State as a claimant for domination in the Salafi-jihadist movement. This movement meant the conquest of jihad over non-Islamic regions.
Recent Events Leading To The United States And Iranian Tensions
The last few years leading up to the present-day United States and Iranian tensions have been those of rebirth, loss, and redefining purpose for the Islamic State and Jihad-led political conquests. Al Qaeda sank into the ashes of its former self. It then reemerged in the form of Al-Shabaab rampages and a knife attack on London Bridge.
The Islamic State and ISIS caliphate lost al-Baghdadi. Since then, leaders have been crushed by what has been perceived as American imperialism.
The United States and Iranian tensions have reached a boiling point. The Islamic State is defined by the imperialism, foreign identity, and pervasive sense of “infidel” that the United States has. People often see America as an aggressor, conqueror, and an exploitative force for the Middle East’s resources.
All of this is ironic considering that the United States has been a builder of the Middle Eastern civic sophistication. One can see this within the beginnings of highway construction projects to the oil business. This is even easy to see by the military training the U.S. offered as well.
Civil Tensions And Tomorrow’s Islam
Most see the United States as a permanent friend and ally of Israel. Of course, Israel is the ultimate sworn-enemy of Islamic nationalism. In fact, it’s more or less an object of final conquest. This is the mistake many in the Western world often make when viewing events in the Middle East externally. Plus, it only adds to the current United States and Iranian tensions plaguing the Middle East.
The Islamic states have perhaps even greater hostilities and conquest for dominance between each other. America as a distant object of conquest is perhaps the amalgam that can unify Islamic willpower to one target cause.
For example, many in Iran were united in their hatred of Qassem Soleimani. This is a man who enterprised the theater of the Syrian war for his own foreign gains. He was responsible for the deaths of countless Middle Eastern nationals over an array of countries. This was not just those of the American lives lost during the War on Terror.
The absence of Soleimani has created a major vacuum for his supporters. It has likewise given some cause for relief to those local to the region. The Quds force and Hezbollah must reimagine themselves to attain the same vision.
It is clear that the United States and Iranian tensions will continue, especially with Islamic State continuing to pursue dominance over the region and those outside of it.