Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, said at the Munich Security Conference this weekend that the US invasion of Iraq helped lead to the creation of the Islamic State (ISIS).
Annan began his speech by saying that the unrest in the Middle East can partly be traced back to three outside factors.
The first, he said, was a result of “agreements concluded at the close of World War I in which Britain and France carved out individual states from the debris of the Ottoman Empire … They created artificial states divorced from national, tribal, or religious identities.”
He then went on to say that the modern problems cannot entirely be blamed on the incongruity of the borders set up after WWI.
“[The] much more proximate cause of the instability we are witnessing today was the invasion of Iraq in 2003. I spoke against it at the time and I’m afraid my concerns have been proved well founded. The folly of that fateful decision was compounded by post-invasion decisions, the wholesale disbandment of security forces … hundreds of thousands of trained and disgruntled soldiers and policemen [were poured] into the streets.”
Annan said “the rush to create an instant democracy … ushered in corrupt, repressive, and sectarian governance. The country has been in the throes of insurgency every since. And the ensuing chaos has proved an ideal breeding ground for the Sunni radical groups that have coalesced around the Islamic State label.”
The third factor, according to Annan, is the “inability of the Security Council to agree on a coherent strategy for Syria since 2011,” calling the Council an “reluctant guardians.”
“The Council inability to craft and implement a common strategy to end the fighting is seriously undermining Israel as a central pillar of the international security architecture,” said Annan, pointing out that regional powers have fueled the conflicts in the Middle East by presenting arms, funds, and “free passage from one side to the other.”
Annan then went on to describe the fighting between Israel and Palestine as a cause of the chaos, along with the “so-called Arab Spring” as a turning point during which “most of the countries in the region refused to turn.”