A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Could the Return of ‘Izzat Ibrahim Be Somehow a Good Thing?

I'm wrapping up our summer issue; Part II of the post on Kut will be posted tomorrow with luck.

I previously posted on the odd alliance between Saddam's old number two, ‘Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, the Naqshbandi Sufi order, and ISIS, which have few common interests other than all being Sunni.

Now Michael Knights at The New Republic tries to find something positive in this grotesque Hitler-Stalin Pact style Hobson's choice: "Saddam Hussein's Faithful Friend, the King of Clubs, Might Be the Key to Saving Iraq: Assuming, that is, the mysterious Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri is even still alive." 

Eek! If Saddam's old henchman is the "key to saving Iraq" things are even worse than I feared. My previous allusion to the Hitler-Stalin Pact stands.

It reminds me of the old joke about the Pole who is asked, "if you're invaded by Germany and Russia at the same time, who do you fight first?" [Which actually happened in 1939.] To which the Pole responds, "Germany, of course. Business before pleasure."

It also reminds me of the story of the boy who was such an optimist that a psychiatrist introduced him to a room full of horse manure. The boy was overjoyed and started digging. When asked why he wasn't repulsed, he replied, "Isn't it obvious? With all this horseshit, there has to be a pony in here somewhere." It takes that level of optimism to find a silver lining in the return of a butcher like ‘Izzat Ibrahim, though the fact that ISIS' successes include allies with very different goals may undercut their prospects over time.

Despite these doubts, Knights' article is worth your time.

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