Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 crash in Ukraine, tragedy and war


Wreckage of flight MH17 in Ukraine

By Alex Lantier:

The crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine

19 July 2014

The remarks Friday by President Barack Obama on the tragic crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine raised far more questions than they answered.

Obama continued the mind-numbing propaganda barrage from US officials and media, denouncing Russia and pro-Russian separatist forces in eastern Ukraine for shooting down the plane and demanding the surrender of the separatists to the Western-backed regime in Kiev. However, his remarks themselves underscored that this propaganda campaign has no factual basis whatsoever and is leading Washington into an explosive confrontation with Russia.

Obama said: “Here is what we know so far. Evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile that was launched from an area that is controlled by Russian-backed separatists inside of Ukraine. We also know that this is not the first time a plane has been shot down in eastern Ukraine. Over the last several weeks, Russian-backed separatists have shot down a Ukrainian transport plane and a Ukrainian helicopter, and they claimed responsibility for shooting down a Ukrainian fighter jet. Moreover, we know that these separatists have received a steady flow of support from Russia.”

Reread Obama’s comments carefully. You will see that nothing he said proves that pro-Russian forces fired a missile at MH17. Separatist rebels have shot down low-flying Ukrainian military aircraft with portable anti-aircraft missiles, but this does not mean they had either the intent or the capability to destroy a jumbo jet flying at 33,000 feet—an act they knew would hand Washington a massive propaganda weapon.

As for Obama’s claim that the separatists control the area from which the missile was fired, for which he presented no evidence, this means nothing given the chaotic conditions in eastern Ukraine. In the city of Donetsk, the stronghold of the anti-Kiev separatists, forces loyal to Kiev control the airport, from which they routinely shell the city. In fact, shortly before MH17 was allegedly destroyed by a BUK missile near Donetsk, the Kiev regime reinforced its anti-aircraft batteries in the region.

Remarkably, Obama went on to admit that his administration does not know who shot down MH17 or why. He said, “I think it’s too early for us to be able to guess what intentions those who might have launched the surface-to-air missile might have had… In terms of identifying specifically what individual or group of individuals, you know, personnel ordered the strike, how it came about—those are things that I think are going to be subject to additional information that we’re going to be gathering.”

Again, reread Obama’s statement carefully. Behind all the conditional statements and verbal hedging, he is saying nothing about who launched the strike. Obama’s remarks directly contradict those of his own UN ambassador, Samantha Power,

a ‘liberal hawk’ within the Washington administration, a believer in ‘humanitarian wars

who had just stated that there was “credible evidence” that Russia was responsible for the crash, adding, “Russia can end this war. Russia must end this war.”

Obama proceeded to throw a question mark over the entire coverage of the MH17 crash: “I want to point out there will likely be misinformation as well. I think it’s very important for folks to sift through what is factually based and what is simply speculation.”

The picture of the situation that emerges from Obama’s account is remarkable. By his own admission, the United States and its allies are hurtling toward a military confrontation with Russia, under conditions where the White House does not know who is responsible for the MH17 crash and believes powerful political forces are feeding misinformation to the media.

Having already admitted that the CIA did not bother to inform him before spying on German officials, Obama is apparently trying to figure out what his own government is doing—all the while irresponsibly denouncing Russia.

Properly considered, any of the possible explanations for the firing of a missile at MH17 raise the most serious questions about the risk of a direct clash between the Western powers and Russia.

While there is a deafening silence on this in the US media, forces loyal to Kiev may well have fired a BUK missile that took down MH17. The motive that would lie behind such an act is demonstrated by the US media campaign itself: to denounce Russia, step up the campaign for NATO intervention in Ukraine, and seek to whip into line some of Washington’s European allies who are balking at imposing sweeping sanctions against Russia.

The very real possibility that pro-Kiev forces shot down the plane takes into account the close ties between CIA operatives, mercenaries of the US firm formerly known as Blackwater, European intelligence agencies, and the fascist militias that spearhead Kiev’s armed forces. It raises the possibility of direct complicity of sections of the American state in the murder of MH17’s passengers and crew.

Particularly significant are Russian media reports that MH17 briefly crossed the path of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s flight returning from the World Cup and an international summit in Brazil, and that factions in Moscow believe the missile that destroyed MH17 may have been intended for Putin. It is impossible to verify whether such reports are correct. However, if sections of the Russian state come to believe that American and European intelligence agencies sanctioned an assassination attempt on the Russian head of state, the implications are mind-boggling.

On the other hand, if, as the US propaganda campaign claims, MH17 was destroyed by a missile fired by forces allied to or directly aided by Russia, this raises the question of what message the Russian factions involved were trying to send by demonstrating their willingness to murder nearly 300 people. It would certainly show that Moscow takes the crisis in Ukraine far more seriously than Washington realizes, and the situation is extremely dangerous.

The US media and political establishment, in their haste to denounce Russia, appear completely uninterested in these questions. This attitude combines utter recklessness with light-mindedness. What has already been revealed by the MH17 disaster is the deep crisis of Western imperialism and the risk of global war.

United Nations about MH17: here.

Though the investigation of the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 has barely begun, the Obama administration and the U.S. media have sold the world on the narrative blaming Russia’s President Putin, with Secretary of State Kerry sealing the deal, writes Robert Parry: here.

Barely 24 hours after the crash of a Malaysian passenger jet over Ukraine, leading German media outlets are pushing for an escalation of the confrontation with Russia: here.

Newcastle have paid tribute to two fans who died on flight MH17 on their way to support the club in New Zealand: here.

From the BBC:

The appearance of far-right activists, both foreign and home-grown, among the Ukrainian volunteers fighting in east Ukraine is causing unease.

Mikael Skillt is a Swedish sniper, with seven years’ experience in the Swedish Army and the Swedish National Guard. He is currently fighting with the Azov Battalion, a pro-Ukrainian volunteer armed group in eastern Ukraine. He is known to be dangerous to the rebels: reportedly there is a bounty of nearly $7,000 (£4,090; 5,150 euros) on his head.

In a telephone conversation from an undisclosed location, Mr Skillt told me more about his duties: “I have at least three purposes in the Azov Battalion: I am a commander of a small reconnaissance unit, I am also a sniper, and sometimes I work as a special coordinator for clearing houses and going into civilian areas.”

As to his political views, Mr Skillt prefers to call himself a nationalist, but in fact his views are typical of a neo-Nazi.

“It’s all about how you see it,” he says. “I would be an idiot if I said I did not want to see survival of white people. After World War Two, the victors wrote their history. They decided that it’s always a bad thing to say I am white and I am proud.”

‘One stray liberal’

Mr Skillt believes races should not mix. He says the Jews are not white and should not mix with white people.

UK arms export licences for Russia still in place despite claims of embargo – report. Many weapons and military components are still approved for export to Russia, report by four Commons committees says: here.

Death of bullied British soldier, new inquest


Private Cheryl James was found dead from a single gunshot wound in November 1995. Photograph: PA

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Deepcut barracks: fresh inquest ordered into soldier’s death

High court quashes 1995 open verdict into death of Private Cheryl James, one of four soldiers who died amid bullying claims

Friday 18 July 2014 11.09 BST

High court judges have ordered a fresh inquest into the death of Private Cheryl James, who died at Deepcut barracks.

Her family applied for a fresh investigation with the consent of the attorney general.

Pte James, 18, was found dead from a single gunshot wound in November 1995. An inquest recorded an open verdict.

She was one of four soldiers who died at the Surrey barracks between 1995 and 2002 amid claims of bullying and abuse.

Privates Sean Benton, James Collinson and Geoff Gray also died from gunshot wounds.

Mr Justice Mitting and Judge Peter Thornton QC both agreed that there was “an insufficiency of inquiry” at the 1995 inquest and quashed its open verdict.

Judge Thornton said “the discovery of new facts or evidence” made “a fresh investigation including a fresh inquest necessary or desirable in the interests of justice”.

Pte James was undergoing initial training at Deepcut when she was found dead with a bullet wound between her right eye and the bridge of her nose.

Her parents, Des and Doreen James, applied through human rights campaign group Liberty for a new inquest after the Human Rights Act was used to secure access to documents held by the authorities about the teenager’s death.

Mr and Mrs James said they were delighted to have a fresh inquest but added that “a meaningful inquiry into Cheryl’s death is almost 20 years late”.

They said in a statement: “When young people die in violent circumstances, a rigorous and transparent investigation should be automatic. Something went dreadfully wrong at Deepcut yet until now no one has bothered to look at how and why our daughter died.

“We can only hope that Cheryl’s legacy helps change the current ineffective and discredited military justice system.”

Liberty solicitor Emma Norton, who represented the couple, said: “Cheryl’s family refused to let her death be swept under the carpet but they’ve had to fight at every stage for answers in the face of a state that thought it could ignore the basic human rights of its troops.

“Cheryl was preparing for a life of service and deserved so much better – her family can now hope to finally get some answers.”

See also here.

Terrible death of Malaysian airlines passengers and crew in Ukraine


Malaysian Airlines flight path

295 people, from many countries, on their way from the Netherlands to Malaysia, died a terrible death. First of all, condolelences to all the families and friends of the victims, wishing them strength in this tragedy. There should be an unbiased, thorough investigation how this happened.

Alex Lantier writes about this:

18 July 2014

Before any investigation had been carried out, leading US politicians and media outlets seized upon yesterday’s terrible crash of a Malaysian Airlines flight in east Ukraine, which cost 295 lives, to legitimize stepped-up threats against Russia, posing the danger of all-out war.

The wreckage of Flight MH 17 is strewn over a nine-mile perimeter in an area controlled by pro-Russian militias fighting the Western-backed Ukrainian regime in Kiev. Flight safety experts explained yesterday that the crash could be due to mechanical failure, a bomb inside the jet, or the plane being shot down.

Less than an hour after the crash, however—before even the size and location of the crash site were known—leading US politicians, American media outlets and the US puppet regime in Kiev were insisting that Russia and its east Ukrainian allies had shot down the jetliner with a BUK missile. Ukrainian Interior Ministry official Anton Gerashchenko told the Wall Street Journal: “They clearly thought that it was a military transport plane that they were shooting at. They were the ones who did this.”

US intelligence agencies also claimed the plane had been shot down by a missile, citing satellite data, but without saying who had fired it. Neither Kiev nor Washington presented any evidence, such as satellite images, radar tracking data or eyewitness testimony, to back up their allegations.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak—whose country faces a second airline disaster this year, after the March 8 disappearance of all 239 people aboard MH 370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing—called for investigations to proceed. He said: “The Ukrainian authorities believe that the plane was shot down. At this early stage, however, Malaysia is unable to verify the cause of this tragedy … If it transpires that the plane was indeed shot down, we insist that the perpetrators must be swiftly brought to justice.”

If MH 17 was shot down by a BUK missile system—a Soviet-designed system fielded by both the Russian army (with 250 units) and the Ukrainian army (60 units)—there are three possibilities as to who shot it down. It could be the Kiev regime or the various far-right militias fighting alongside its armed forces, east Ukraine’s pro-Russian separatists, or the armed forces of Russia itself.

Russian media reported that on Wednesday, Kiev dispatched anti-air missile batteries to the area around Donetsk, the largest city held by pro-Russian militias. From there, advanced missile systems like BUK or S-300 could have shot down a plane in the region.

Moscow or pro-Russian separatist militias in eastern Ukraine operating BUK batteries with technical assistance from Russian forces could also have hit the jet. The east Ukrainian separatist forces reportedly seized a BUK battery when they captured a Ukrainian military base earlier this week, and they claimed they had shot down a Ukrainian airplane shortly before MH 17 crashed.

As to whether Kiev, Moscow, or their allied militias shot down MH 17, one can only wait for an investigation to proceed, assuming that the fighting in east Ukraine will allow it to take place. Whoever shot the jetliner down, if it was indeed shot down, the main responsibility for this horrific act lies with the catastrophe unleashed in Ukraine by Washington and its European allies.

The crash took place a day after Washington and the European Union (EU) imposed new sanctions against Russia, amid a bloody civil war in Ukraine in which Washington has backed a far-right, anti-Russian regime in Kiev that came to power in a fascist-led putsch this February. In the past week, mass graves were discovered in east Ukrainian cities captured by the Kiev regime, and Ukrainian artillery bombarded Russian cities near the border.

Washington has sought to continuously intensify political and military tensions in order to encircle Russia, and, by making the situation ever more violent, counter elements in Germany who, for reasons of their own, are nervous about the subordination of German policy to US interests. US officials and media therefore seized on the crash to demand military escalation in Ukraine, a Russian capitulation to US interests in Ukraine, and a total alignment of the European powers on US policy.

The New York Times placed all blame on Russian President Vladimir Putin, even though it admitted that it did not know who was responsible for the crash. Noting that “it may take a while to fully sort out who is responsible,” it called for an end to the Ukraine conflict, asserting: “There is only one man who can stop it—President Vladimir Putin of Russia, by telling the Russian-backed secessionists in Ukraine to end their insurgency and by stopping the flow of money and heavy weaponry to these groups.”

US Republican Senator Lindsay Graham called the crash a “game-changer,” adding: “You would take the sanctions we’ve unilaterally imposed, toughen them and get the world behind them. Start arming the Ukrainian military, that is what I would do.”

Fellow Republican Senator John McCain said: “I think there’s going to be hell to pay and there should be … If these are separatists, which are also Russian, Vladimir Putin should be paying a heavy price.”

Aspiring Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said the European powers now had a responsibility to impose the deep economic sanctions on Russia that Washington has demanded of them. “They must say, ‘Putin has gone too far and we are not going to stand idly by,’” Clinton said. “There should be outrage in Europe.”

Such a policy of deliberately and continuously provoking a major military power armed with nuclear weapons, such as Russia, is immensely dangerous. In the state of heightened military alert and uncertainty provoked by the Ukrainian civil war, engineered by the Western powers, a passenger jet has been destroyed and nearly 300 lives lost.

One must ask: what is the next “unexpected event” in the spiral of escalation in Ukraine, and will it trigger a direct military confrontation between the United States, the EU, and Russia involving nuclear weapons?

Saudi, Bahraini Isis fighters in Iraq, Syria


This video says about itself:

Al Jazeera Journalist Explains Resignation over Syria and Bahrain Coverage

19 March 2012

Ali Hashem: Al Jazeera [with links to the regime of Qatar] has become a “media war machine” and is “committing journalistic suicide”.

From Gulf Daily News (Bahrain; pro-regime):

5,500 Gulf citizens fighting with ISIS

By Raji Unnikrishnan

Monday, July 14, 2014

ESTIMATES suggest up to 5,500 Gulf nationals are fighting with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), according to a UAE-based expert.

Around 4,000 of them are thought to be from Saudi Arabia, while the rest are believed to be from other GCC countries.

However, Dubai-based Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA) research and development director Dr Theodore Karasik said he expected those figures to grow in the coming months.

“Of the GCC states, Saudi Arabia has the highest amount of nationals in ISIS – perhaps up to 4,000 fighters,” he told the GDN yesterday.

“The rest of the GCC states have much lower numbers, between 1,000 and 1,500.

“Those numbers are likely to grow in the coming months given the announcement (by ISIS) of the Caliphate and successes on the ground.

“Young people, who are being termed ‘third generation Jihadis’, are willing to join this gang of religious fighters.” …

The GDN reported yesterday that Bahraini cleric Shaikh Turki Al Ban’ali had allegedly been photographed giving a sermon for ISIS supporters in Mosul, Iraq.

Dr Karasik claimed Al Ban’ali was actually serving in the ISIS “government” as a religious leader and mufti – a Muslim legal expert empowered to give rulings on religious matters – along with Saudi nationals Omar Al Qahtani (aka Abu Bakr) and Osman Al Nazeh Al Asiri.

He said the three clerics had previously been in Syria, where Sunni rebels are waging a bloody civil war against the Shi’ite government of President Bashar Al Assad.

Recruitment

“As Shariat leaders, these three are responsible for religious discourse as well as aspects of recruiting,” claimed Dr Karasik.

Saudi government help for Isis extremists in Iraq


This video from the USA is called Willful Deceit: Michael Moore Speaks Out on The Iraq War Anniversary, Bush Crimes.

It says about itself:

24 March 2013

Bush Perverted, Distorted and Tarnished America’s Image Beyond Repair.

This video from the USA is called Bandar Bush. About Saudi royal and secret police boss Prince Bandar, nicknamed ‘Bandar Bush’ because of his close relationship to the Bush dynasty in the USA.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

World View: A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany

Patrick Cockburn

Sunday 13 July 2014

How far is Saudi Arabia complicit in the Isis takeover of much of northern Iraq, and is it stoking an escalating Sunni-Shia conflict across the Islamic world? Some time before 9/11, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, once the powerful Saudi ambassador in Washington and head of Saudi intelligence until a few months ago, had a revealing and ominous conversation with the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove. Prince Bandar told him: “The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally ‘God help the Shia’. More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them.”

The fatal moment predicted by Prince Bandar may now have come for many Shia, with Saudi Arabia playing an important role in bringing it about by supporting the anti-Shia jihad in Iraq and Syria. Since the capture of Mosul by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) on 10 June, Shia women and children have been killed in villages south of Kirkuk, and Shia air force cadets machine-gunned and buried in mass graves near Tikrit.

In Mosul, Shia shrines and mosques have been blown up, and in the nearby Shia Turkoman city of Tal Afar 4,000 houses have been taken over by Isis fighters as “spoils of war”. Simply to be identified as Shia or a related sect, such as the Alawites, in Sunni rebel-held parts of Iraq and Syria today, has become as dangerous as being a Jew was in Nazi-controlled parts of Europe in 1940.

There is no doubt about the accuracy of the quote by Prince Bandar, secretary-general of the Saudi National Security Council from 2005 and head of General Intelligence between 2012 and 2014, the crucial two years when al-Qa’ida-type jihadis took over the Sunni-armed opposition in Iraq and Syria. Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute last week, Dearlove, who headed MI6 from 1999 to 2004, emphasised the significance of Prince Bandar’s words, saying that they constituted “a chilling comment that I remember very well indeed”.

He does not doubt that substantial and sustained funding from private donors in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to which the authorities may have turned a blind eye, has played a central role in the Isis surge into Sunni areas of Iraq. He said: “Such things simply do not happen spontaneously.” This sounds realistic since the tribal and communal leadership in Sunni majority provinces is much beholden to Saudi and Gulf paymasters, and would be unlikely to cooperate with Isis without their consent.

Dearlove’s explosive revelation about the prediction of a day of reckoning for the Shia by Prince Bandar, and the former head of MI6′s view that Saudi Arabia is involved in the Isis-led Sunni rebellion, has attracted surprisingly little attention. Coverage of Dearlove’s speech focused instead on his main theme that the threat from Isis to the West is being exaggerated because, unlike Bin Laden’s al-Qa’ida, it is absorbed in a new conflict that “is essentially Muslim on Muslim”. Unfortunately, Christians in areas captured by Isis are finding this is not true, as their churches are desecrated and they are forced to flee. A difference between al-Qa’ida and Isis is that the latter is much better organised; if it does attack Western targets the results are likely to be devastating.

The forecast by Prince Bandar, who was at the heart of Saudi security policy for more than three decades, that the 100 million Shia in the Middle East face disaster at the hands of the Sunni majority, will convince many Shia that they are the victims of a Saudi-led campaign to crush them. “The Shia in general are getting very frightened after what happened in northern Iraq,” said an Iraqi commentator, who did not want his name published. Shia see the threat as not only military but stemming from the expanded influence over mainstream Sunni Islam of Wahhabism, the puritanical and intolerant version of Islam espoused by Saudi Arabia that condemns Shia and other Islamic sects as non-Muslim apostates and polytheists.

Dearlove says that he has no inside knowledge obtained since he retired as head of MI6 10 years ago to become Master of Pembroke College in Cambridge. But, drawing on past experience, he sees Saudi strategic thinking as being shaped by two deep-seated beliefs or attitudes. First, they are convinced that there “can be no legitimate or admissible challenge to the Islamic purity of their Wahhabi credentials as guardians of Islam’s holiest shrines”. But, perhaps more significantly given the deepening Sunni-Shia confrontation, the Saudi belief that they possess a monopoly of Islamic truth leads them to be “deeply attracted towards any militancy which can effectively challenge Shia-dom”.

Western governments traditionally play down the connection between Saudi Arabia and its Wahhabist faith, on the one hand, and jihadism, whether of the variety espoused by Osama bin Laden and al-Qa’ida or by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s Isis. There is nothing conspiratorial or secret about these links: 15 out of 19 of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, as was Bin Laden and most of the private donors who funded the operation.

The difference between al-Qa’ida and Isis can be overstated: when Bin Laden was killed by United States forces in 2011, al-Baghdadi released a statement eulogising him, and Isis pledged to launch 100 attacks in revenge for his death.

But there has always been a second theme to Saudi policy towards al-Qa’ida type jihadis, contradicting Prince Bandar’s approach and seeing jihadis as a mortal threat to the Kingdom. Dearlove illustrates this attitude by relating how, soon after 9/11, he visited the Saudi capital Riyadh with Tony Blair.

He remembers the then head of Saudi General Intelligence “literally shouting at me across his office: ’9/11 is a mere pinprick on the West. In the medium term, it is nothing more than a series of personal tragedies. What these terrorists want is to destroy the House of Saud and remake the Middle East.’” In the event, Saudi Arabia adopted both policies, encouraging the jihadis as a useful tool of Saudi anti-Shia influence abroad but suppressing them at home as a threat to the status quo. It is this dual policy that has fallen apart over the last year.

Saudi sympathy for anti-Shia “militancy” is identified in leaked US official documents. The then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in December 2009 in a cable released by Wikileaks that “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan] and other terrorist groups.” She said that, in so far as Saudi Arabia did act against al-Qa’ida, it was as a domestic threat and not because of its activities abroad. This policy may now be changing with the dismissal of Prince Bandar as head of intelligence this year. But the change is very recent, still ambivalent and may be too late: it was only last week that a Saudi prince said he would no longer fund a satellite television station notorious for its anti-Shia bias based in Egypt.

The problem for the Saudis is that their attempts since Bandar lost his job to create an anti-Maliki and anti-Assad Sunni constituency which is simultaneously against al-Qa’ida and its clones have failed.

By seeking to weaken Maliki and Assad in the interest of a more moderate Sunni faction, Saudi Arabia and its allies are in practice playing into the hands of Isis which is swiftly gaining full control of the Sunni opposition in Syria and Iraq. In Mosul, as happened previously in its Syrian capital Raqqa, potential critics and opponents are disarmed, forced to swear allegiance to the new caliphate and killed if they resist.

The West may have to pay a price for its alliance with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies, which have always found Sunni jihadism more attractive than democracy. A striking example of double standards by the western powers was the Saudi-backed suppression of peaceful democratic protests by the Shia majority in Bahrain in March 2011. Some 1,500 Saudi troops were sent across the causeway to the island kingdom as the demonstrations were ended with great brutality and Shia mosques and shrines were destroyed.

An alibi used by the US and Britain is that the Sunni al-Khalifa royal family in Bahrain is pursuing dialogue and reform. But this excuse looked thin last week as Bahrain expelled a top US diplomat, the assistant secretary of state for human rights Tom Malinowksi, for meeting leaders of the main Shia opposition party al-Wifaq. Mr Malinowski tweeted that the Bahrain government’s action was “not about me but about undermining dialogue”.

Western powers and their regional allies have largely escaped criticism for their role in reigniting the war in Iraq. Publicly and privately, they have blamed the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for persecuting and marginalising the Sunni minority, so provoking them into supporting the Isis-led revolt. There is much truth in this, but it is by no means the whole story. Maliki did enough to enrage the Sunni, partly because he wanted to frighten Shia voters into supporting him in the 30 April election by claiming to be the Shia community’s protector against Sunni counter-revolution.

But for all his gargantuan mistakes, Maliki’s failings are not the reason why the Iraqi state is disintegrating. What destabilised Iraq from 2011 on was the revolt of the Sunni in Syria and the takeover of that revolt by jihadis, who were often sponsored by donors in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates. Again and again Iraqi politicians warned that by not seeking to close down the civil war in Syria, Western leaders were making it inevitable that the conflict in Iraq would restart. “I guess they just didn’t believe us and were fixated on getting rid of [President Bashar al-] Assad,” said an Iraqi leader in Baghdad last week.

Of course, US and British politicians and diplomats would argue that they were in no position to bring an end to the Syrian conflict. But this is misleading. By insisting that peace negotiations must be about the departure of Assad from power, something that was never going to happen since Assad held most of the cities in the country and his troops were advancing, the US and Britain made sure the war would continue.

The chief beneficiary is Isis which over the last two weeks has been mopping up the last opposition to its rule in eastern Syria. The Kurds in the north and the official al-Qa’ida representative, Jabhat al-Nusra, are faltering under the impact of Isis forces high in morale and using tanks and artillery captured from the Iraqi army. It is also, without the rest of the world taking notice, taking over many of the Syrian oil wells that it did not already control.

Saudi Arabia has created a Frankenstein’s monster over which it is rapidly losing control. The same is true of its allies such as Turkey which has been a vital back-base for Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra by keeping the 510-mile-long Turkish-Syrian border open. As Kurdish-held border crossings fall to Isis, Turkey will find it has a new neighbour of extraordinary violence, and one deeply ungrateful for past favours from the Turkish intelligence service.

As for Saudi Arabia, it may come to regret its support for the Sunni revolts in Syria and Iraq as jihadi social media begins to speak of the House of Saud as its next target. It is the unnamed head of Saudi General Intelligence quoted by Dearlove after 9/11 who is turning out to have analysed the potential threat to Saudi Arabia correctly and not Prince Bandar, which may explain why the latter was sacked earlier this year.

Nor is this the only point on which Prince Bandar was dangerously mistaken. The rise of Isis is bad news for the Shia of Iraq but it is worse news for the Sunni whose leadership has been ceded to a pathologically bloodthirsty and intolerant movement, a sort of Islamic Khmer Rouge, which has no aim but war without end.

The Sunni caliphate rules a large, impoverished and isolated area from which people are fleeing. Several million Sunni in and around Baghdad are vulnerable to attack and 255 Sunni prisoners have already been massacred. In the long term, Isis cannot win, but its mix of fanaticism and good organisation makes it difficult to dislodge.

“God help the Shia,” said Prince Bandar, but, partly thanks to him, the shattered Sunni communities of Iraq and Syria may need divine help even more than the Shia.