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Hot Months in Iraq and Lebanon Until the November Elections

Hot Months in Iraq and Lebanon Until the November Elections

Tuesday, 7 July, 2020 - 12:15

Recent developments in Iraq and Lebanon point to a new round in the US-Iran conflict.

It is true that Washington’s animosity to the Tehran regime has been present and on the rise; at least since Donald Trump replaced Barack Obama in the White House. The latest developments, however, mark a qualitative shift in a long confrontation, the momentum of which is kept by both sides, without being allowed to get out of control between now and the US elections next November.

My guess is that, despite its economic difficulties, Iran would never abort its expansionist colonial project. Indeed, it began investing in this project since the Khomeinist takeover in 1979, under the banners of "exporting the revolution". Furthermore, despite being repelled and besieged here and there, the Iranian leadership has managed to adopt the following policies:

- Escaping foreword

- Nurturing a ‘siege mentality’ that enhances national solidarity in the face of foreign encirclement

- Taking one diplomatic step backward in order to advance ten steps; especially with regard to its nuclear program

- Establishing and financing a set of ‘lobbies’ in Europe, the USA, and Arab and Muslim countries, spanning the ideological spectrum from the revolutionary extreme Left to the conservative extreme Right

After the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), Iran realized the futility of all-out invasions, which would provoke its foes and bring them together against a ‘common enemy’. Thus, maintaining the strategic aim of expansionism and hegemony, while aspiring for a regional ‘partnership’ with Washington and Tel Aviv, Tehran embarked on a policy of destabilizing its Arab neighbors. All this began with exploiting the Palestinian Cause, pulling towards Leftist and Islamist organizations away from the Arab and internationally-recognized Palestinian leadership.

Benefitting from Washington’ perennial pro-Israel policies, Tehran has been able to ride the wave of protest, and successfully export its ‘Resistance’ merchandise to the occupied Palestinian territories, through ‘Islamic Jihad’, a large bloc within Hamas, as well as Leftist and self-proclaimed Leftist groups. As it happens, most of these groups have offices in Syria whose regime has played the role of a conduit of Iranian-Israeli ‘messages’ and ‘contacts’, and the guarantor of quiet and secure ceasefire line in the Golan Heights.

More importantly, Iran has promoted, and enhanced in many Arab countries the ‘state of Resistance’ – which has come to mean opposing both Israel and moderate Arab regimes. However, the Arabs discovered only too late this reality which ‘legitimizes’ the Iranian project of expansionism and hegemony. This enhancement has taken the shape of founding sectarian militias, created along the lines of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), and linked politically, structurally, logistically, financially, in addition to the intelligence and military relations.

The great successful ‘prototype’ of such militias has been Lebanon’s Hezbollah; after which many similar militias were modeled in Iraq – mainly from groups who fought on the Iranian side during the Iran-Iraq War –, Yemen, and lately Syria.

Yes, the Arabs have been too late in understanding how the Tehran regime thinks, and how capable it is in patient maneuvering. They have also failed in two key areas: being alert to inter-Arab conflicts, and realizing the political meaning and the regional and global implications of the USSR’s collapse.

Indeed, as the rhetoric of ‘Political Islam’ was rising, thanks to Iranian backing, the Leftist and Arab Nationalist alternatives lost ground; reaching the point of no-return with Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, which did not take into account what the Soviet collapse meant.

At that point, Arab cracks had grown wider, and the countdown for the Iraqi regime began. Then, as the international community was bracing itself to confront the Al-Qaeda, the extremist Sunni ‘Political Islam’ (tacitly supported and exploited by Iran), the USA invaded Iraq in 2003, bringing down the last Arab and Sunni bulwark against the Iranian expansionist project.

Since then, the Khomeinist Iran penetrated Iraq, its client militias’ commanders dominated the streets, and the government; after Paul Bremer, the head of US-led ‘Coalition Provisional Authority’ destroyed the Iraqi state institutions under the motto of ‘de-Baathification’, and boasted ‘ending Sunni hegemony’ in Iraq.

In Lebanon, Israel not only helped to create a fertile ground for Hezbollah to grow, but also regarded it as a sure investment for ruining the diverse and culturally-rich country that was until recently the Arabs’ gateway to the West. Looking now at what Hezbollah has achieved since 1982, it becomes clear how necessary its existence has been to destroy Lebanon as it was known before, and how useful it has proven to be in undermining Lebanon’s Western culture, religious tolerance, and free-market economy.

In fact, I have recently read an article written by a British extremist pro-Israel college student, and published in one of the ultra-rightwing American periodicals. In this article, the writer urges the US government to withhold any support to the American University of Beirut, because it has been educating ‘enemies of Israel’ and the West!

This view fully compliments Hezbollah’s loud calls to change ‘Lebanon’s culture’ and transform it into a country governed by ‘the Resistance Culture’, i.e., that of Khomeinist Iran.

Moreover, despite the recurrence of the ‘Resistance’ and ‘Liberating Jerusalem’ slogans, and never-ending ready-made accusation of treason leveled at any critic of Iran or Hezbollah, the latter has not fought against Israel since 2008. It has, however, fought in Syria displacing hundreds of thousands of Syrian. It has also been fighting alongside the Iraqi militias to quell the mainly Iraqi Shiite Iraqi uprisings, and training and arming the Yemeni pro-Iran Houthi gangs to carry out attacks and acts of destruction inside Yemen, and across the borders in Saudi Arabia; in addition to organizing terror networks in Kuwait, Bahrain, and other Arab Gulf states.

Today, the Iraqi government of Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has a different stance towards the IRGC-led pro-Iran militias. In Lebanon, also stands uncovered the role of Hezbollah in impoverishing the Lebanese people, destroying their state, undermining its banking system and threatening itsculture, national identity and interests. All this is happening under the watchful eyes of a government installed with the sole aim of covering Hezbollah’s full involvement in the Iranian expansionist project.

Thus, Iraq and Lebanon face a few months of severe suffering as Washington gets more preoccupied with its election fever and Covid-19 outbreaks. As for Tehran, it is continuing with business as usual, ignoring the hardships of the Iranians, while gambling on the American voters’ reluctance to confront its ambitions. Indeed, Tehran is hoping that this reluctance is translated by the return of the Democrats’ pro-Iran ‘normalization team’ if Joe Biden wins next November.

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