Rise of the Militias in the Middle East

“Hey! think the time is right for a palace revolution, but where I live the game to play is compromise solution…

–The Rolling Stones, “Street-Fighting Man”

Quite a bit of the recent news flowing out of the Middle East has an interesting common thread. Whether it’s Syria, Iraq, Egypt, or Tunisia, all states once known for their strong military leadership, the new power players may not be wearing the uniforms, but they’ve still got the guns.

On the Syrian front it was recently reported that Iran and Hezbollah are preparing a militia, with as many as 50,000 fighters, according to the Iranians, to deal with the potential post-Assad era.  If Assad does fall, the goal would be to use these militiamen to secure key Syrian territory, enabling Iran to continue to control supply lines to Hezbollah in Lebanon and maintain its influence. Despite suffering from financial sanctions, Iran is reportedly funneling millions of dollars in cash and equipment to their newest proxies.

This is an Iranian specialty. Even if you lose the war, you can still win the post-war chaos. They have played a similar game in Iraq with great success. So pervasive is the Iranian presence in Iraq that the Sunni opposition there has accused Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki of granting Iran permission to bring in 50,000 Iranian Basij militiamen to crack down on protestors and target foreign embassies, including that of the U.S. While the Middle East has always been fertile soil for rumors and conspiracy theories, there’s likely a sliver of truth in the claim, with Iranian agents active on the ground in Iraq. Iran’s Basij militia is often credited with the regime’s success at putting down opposition after the fraudulent election in 2009.

That proven capability to suppress protests has been central to Iranian discussions with the new Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government of Egypt’s President Mohammad Morsi as well. Rumors have continued to swirl that Iran may provide advice and assistance to establish a Muslim Brotherhood militia to help defeat street protests there. Other reports indicate that the Muslim Brotherhood may be able to rely on the Iranian-armed Muslim Brotherhood-offshoot Hamas to provide 7,000 fighters to secure Morsi’s rule.

In Tunisia, a vocal anti-Islamist politician, Chokri Belaid, was recently assassinated, leading to street clashes between secularists and the leading Islamist Ennahda party. While the secular left in Tunisia still controls major labor unions, and so maintains a base of power, protestors suffer from continued violence from the pro-Ennahada militia.

The power of sectarian, ethnic, tribal or party militias are greatest in regions where national identity has never really taken root, and the Middle East is one such region. For most of the Middle East, local loyalties have been either sectarian or tribal, while the ideologies that have held sway are supra-national in origin, with either Islam or Pan-Arab nationalism as the guiding belief system.

Thus it is no surprise that, as Daniel Pipes pointed out in a recent article, the United State’s continued focus on creating national armed forces and other national institutions in these states has historically failed, and continues to fail. There is little use in bringing an F-16 to a street fight. Yes, Morsi’s Egypt will gladly take delivery of modern military technology, but his regime’s security is better served by thugs on motorbikes with guns and leather jackets than by fighter jocks in F-16 fighters. And he knows it.

There are forces in the region deserving of American support. Secular activists in Egypt and Tunisia, although small and routinely disorganized, are worthy of recognition. And ethnic and religious minorities including Christians, Kurds and Druze in Syria are sympathetic to our democratic values and all likely to be on the receiving end of violence from both Iran’s new militia and the majority Sunni-rebels if Assad should fall. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that the U.S. will play a role in safe guarding these communities or giving them the ability to safeguard themselves.

The Obama administration has shown it is far more comfortable negotiating across the table from the Islamists, whether from Iran or the Muslim Brotherhood, than it is reaching out to secular and minority groups. And while U.S. officials at the CIA and the Pentagon expressed confidence that they could vet recipients of U.S. arms in Syria, the administration’s track record in this area is not good.  Where the administration has played the militia game, they generally have failed.  For example, they selected the February 17th Martyrs’ Brigade to help guard the Benghazi Consulate. They ended up selecting a Muslim Brotherhood-linked militia that conveniently “failed to respond to repeated calls for assistance” when the Consulate came under attack.  Not encouraging.

So U.S.-manufactured weapons of war serve no good purpose (nor does the American influence they allegedly purchased), while the Islamist rulers establish and maintain their territories using the truncheons and bicycle chains of their militias against the remaining secularists and minorities. While the current administration continues to believe that the time is right for a compromise solution, it seems that in the Middle East “the time is right for fighting in the streets.”

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  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

    Wherever Sharia Law reigns supreme, chaos resides. In tandem, warring inter-Arab/Muslim factions compete for hegemony. This is the way it has been for centuries.

    In this regard, readers should view the chaos as "six of one, half a dozen of another" and it will come full circle – http://adinakutnicki.com/2012/11/25/the-coming-en

    The west would do well not to take sides, as one Islamic group just replaces the other, equally dangerous for the west.
    Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/

  • pierce

    When Obama made his now infamous apology tour to Egypt, he enhanced the rise of the militias in the middle east. He has aided and abetted the Muslim Brotherhood by his naiveté.

    • Gee

      The President is not naive nor is he stupid. He knew what he was doing and is still working on it

  • http://twitter.com/theoprinse @theoprinse

    Athough I am aware of pictures circulating on the intenret where Mick Jagger like Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) seems to declares support for Israel … I dont understand where texts of Mick Jagger fits in this article where the Rolling Stones and the entire anti-authoritan angry young men evolving into the degeneration of the beatnick, Piven, Cloward, Tom Hayden, Jane Fonda, Timothy Leary, Bob Dylan, Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers, Ramsey Clark, the marihuana hippie sixties movement where merely a part, instigation or anticipation of the psychedelic experiments of the MKULTRA 500 dr.Mengele's nazi's under the lead of Sidney Gottlieb within the CIA of John Brennan and Hussein Obama.

  • Marty

    Each islamic militia group is trained and indoctrinated to only commit acts of violence. the good news is that each will consider itself at war with the others. islam is really no more than a Hobbesian state of nature in which life is short, nasty, and brutish. We should not feel overly concerend if the militia gangs carve out enclaves for themselves and proceed to indefinitely engage in slaughtering one another with each trying to prove how islamic it is by how many victims it murders. There is minimal downside to this for decent human beings.

  • κατεργάζομαι


    When King Hussein of Jordan murdered 10,000 "Palestinians" in September 1970, no one cared about those "Palestinians."

  • JacksonPearson

    "Rise of the Militias in the Middle East"
    IMO, your story title should have been: Rise of the Terrorists in the Middle East

    • WilliamJamesWard

      Militias or Terrorist Cells, a job is a job is a job and what else can these people apply for.
      By education, training and experience they fall into a category of murdering thug for hire
      by ever who has the gilt. Islam in it's truest form is a world whose gross national product
      is measured in murder and mayhem……………………………..William

  • M. Archer

    Marty wrote " there is minimal downside to this for decent human beings". Unfortunately this comment describes the difficulty that the Western mindset has toward the scrimages of "minority" gangs fighting for their five minutes in the political sun. These same characteristicly undemocratic minorities are the very ones killing the Christians adherants and other more center right advocates of representative government already living in the communities that are erupting in anarchy. The problem is, Marty, that these fringe groups who look so trivial to your (our) freedoms from across the pond, are actually waiting their turn to rise against the democratic machine right here in the good old US of A. The type of attitude demonstrated by you to be pervasive among the American people(to the extent that it is) is the same attitude that our current leadership (el Presidente and Congress libs) espouses which is fanning the flames of anarchy every where. If we the people don't stand up to it then those "militia gangs (will) carve out enclaves for themselves and proceed to indefinitely engage in slaughtering"……us.

    • WilliamJamesWard

      Good insight…………………..William

  • patriothere

    "after the fraudulent election in 2009."

    It wasn't fraudulent.


    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

      Says the paid hack that wants people to think goat marraiges are accepted universally….

      3 hours ago @ KTLA-TV – Local Reaction to Obam… · 12 replies · 0 points
      "jews do suicide bombs.

      stoning is a jewish thing.

      marrying goats is universal.

      child brides is all three judaic religions…."

      • patriothere
        • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

          Is that like this quote you gave a couple of weeks ago?

          42 minutes ago @ http://912wolverines.com/ – growl · 0 replies · 0 points
          We want to see israel destroyed. Israel is coming apart at the seams! They can't even manage gaza. You know gaza? That open air concentration prison camp? Well israel can't beat hezbollah, can't manage gaza and they want to get into a war with Iran? HA! What a joke. I hope israel does try something stupid like that because that will be the end of israel.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003417760068 Evgeny

    Trulyum: i don’t agree, because that’s colltempy different situation as it was before WW2. There were negotiations with hitler because they wanted to PREVENT a war… In Afghanistan, there’s already been a war since america’s attack. It’s just that talibans – who were attacked and removed from power – are getting stronger and popular through the whole area, so america and other foreign occupation forces realized that they need to talk to them if they want to achieve anything in that country. let’s just hope that israel will finally open her eyes and start to talk to Hamas, just like obama will talk to taliban

  • limojets

    Very dangerous: The Tunisian Ministry of Interior, the number on suspect of the political conspiracy in the lie of the assassination of Chokri Belaid that never happened uses Photoshop to create a fake Portrait robot, of Kamal Gadhghadi killed and buried instead of Chokri Belaid who left the country with a different Identity and Passport the night before the assassination lie, from his ID photo held in the ministry files. Instead of creating a Portrait Robot from witnesses, they created it from faking and copying/pasting parts of the face as they appeared exactly on his ID picture given to issue his personal ID.
    As we all known the photo of a portrait robot is made by a special department at the Ministry of Interior relying on witnesses to shape the image of the accused, but in this political and government conspiracy lie of the assassination of Chokri Belaid there are no witnesses because the last was never killed. The accused supposed killer Kamal Gadhghadi was murdered and buried in this case.
    The ministry of Interior participated in this crime drama and faked a lie assassination of Chokri Belaid then used Photoshop or a similar software to create a fake Portrait robot from the original photo of Kamal Gadhghadi and they fabricated a camouflage portrait robot to Kamal Gadhghadi and published it through the Tunisian media prior to the publishing of the real picture.
    Below are the parts copied and pasted from the real picture between the two images:
    1 – lips fully copied from the originals with a slight rise in the right side of the lip Kamal Gadhghadi
    2 – ears fully copied from the originals
    3 – eyebrows were fully copied from the originals with the middle black dots in between
    4 – the neck fully copied from the original with the appearing bone that characterizes some individuals
    5 – eyed changed to camouflage a bit the portrait robot picture
    6 – to of the hair was copied from the original and changed the bottom between the hair and the forehead
    All the above and other facts confirm once again that the assassination Chokri Belaid was a lie from A to Z and it is a political and Government conspiracy involving several parts.
    Best Regards,
    Kais MAALEJ
    Tel:001-917-376-9019 http://youtu.be/ALuobheqleI