Clashes conceive battles, battles give birth to wars, wars spread death and this continues on, ending with choking on the blood of humans and suffocating on the fires of cities!
50 percent of Syrian territory is now under the control of Daesh, as of the date of writing this article, following the invasion of Palmyra. This is in addition to seizing the last border point with Iraq, meaning that the Syrian state has lost the ability to control who enters and exits it almost entirely!
Most of Iraq’s Anbar province has become within the control of Daesh, not to mention its occupation of the second largest city in Iraq, Mosul, since last year. This is in addition to tightening its grip on the Iraqi side of the border point itself! As for the Iraqi state, following the embarrassing withdraw of their military forces from Ramadi and the abandoning of heavy equipment and ammunition, easy spoils (the Mosul scenario repeated), they extended asylum to the so-called Hashid Shaabi to help them recover the vast areas from the grip of Daesh!
With regard to the terminology “state,” we mean the anthesis of Daesh.
And the states, in both of the previous cases, were exposed to fatigue and corrosion, day after day, and subject to defeat before a mysterious organization--one armed to the teeth, equivalent to the arms of a regular army, and funded in internationally and regionally suspicious circumstances. An organization that moves smoothly, always with an element of surprise, and one that can be considered terrorism in every sense of the word! How could this happen, and at such an accelerated pace, without causing us to wonder if what remains of the state on the ground is actually finished? Without causing us to wonder whether the “statesmen” truly deserve their positions and titles?
One has to wonder about these questions given the series of failures in the management of the countries, the blindness with regard to the mines of internal fragmentation as well as their causes, and failure to prevent or reduce the progression to more collapses at a vital level which have to do with the very principles of the state itself. Especially when the collapses were closer to full-fledged scandals and necessitated requests for more armament supplies, greater involvement of the military in strategic planning, and the bringing in of special combat teams from countries in the region (Iran) and in the West (the United States)!
However, the most serious ramifications of these events are the states, in attempting to avoid imminent collapse, extending asylum to armed militia groups from inside and outside their territories!
A state which is aligned with militias, allied with them and working with them, in both form and content, has abandoned the designation of “state.” Such a state has given up before itself, before the world, and before the enemy in the midst of the ongoing conflict to become just like the enemy: mere power from the forces of strife!
In Iraq, they felt the need to involve Hashid Shaabi because the state was not able to do its job of protecting the homeland and the citizens. This group is nothing but a Shiite militia group--armed, organized, funded, and linked to a neighboring state, Iran, and one that has shown a tendency toward retaliation over the years. They worked to establish the “post-Saddam state,” sustaining it and growing it until now, and they reserved their arms for the “settling of accounts” with past persons and groups. Is this how states are built, or rather, rebuilt?
In Syria, they felt the need to form an alliance with Hezbollah and allow for other Lebanese involvement in the fighting inside the country, and these groups now consider Syria a “pillar of the resistance,” according to the trench alignments in the region. In the end, the composition of Hezbollah, however it attempts to deceive us with its language and vocabulary, is not incompatible with the composition of the militias. No one can deny the fact that it is a sectarian Shiite organization, connected to Iran, and financed and armed like the various factions in Iraq. Noting its response to Israel in Lebanon on more than one occasion and its steadfastness in front of strikes, does not exempt it from accountability for its presence in other arenas, and the question remains: does it serve the Syrian people or the authority of the state (and its alliances) which has been unmoved by the will of the people to the point of entering hell?
More battles are coming in Iraq and Syria, and in each new battle the growing presence of militias correlates with the fading of the states. Over time, their presence will become inescapable. There are a number of difficulties to deciding future settlements, both regional and international, and to sketching the future of these lands. The situation is made worse by the large number of armed groups located on the ground and the multiple groups affiliated with them, who exist outside of the legitimacy of official arms, and the involvement of some of them in playing the roles of the state, concealed on behalf of the state. This further proves the degradation of the states and, not only are they decomposing, as far as institutions are pillars, they are also being marked by suspicion and skepticism, both in terms of their forces and the interests that they represent.
This is what we are seeing in Yemen and Libya as well, and this makes us wonder about the true identity of the “state” after the wars in those countries. Are they states with militia mentalities and objectives, or have the militias kidnapped the states through the elected/imposed presidents?
Elias Farkouh is a writer and a novelist. He has received numerous awards for his many novels and short stories.
*The Arabic version of this op-ed article appeared on May 24, 2015. The views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily representative of AmmanNet.
Translated by Julia Norris