On Iraq Being Ill...Just like Iran Wants It to Be
On Iraq Being Ill...Just like Iran Wants It to Be
Friday, Sept. 24, was an astonishing day for Iraq. The reactions to the two incidents that occurred that day reflect how unhealthy the situation in Iraq is.
General Gholam Ali Rashid, commander of the Khatam al-Anbiyaa Central Headquarters and a senior commander in the Iranian army responsible for protecting Iranian airspace from missile attacks, gave an extremely important speech during an official ceremony at the headquarters of the army’s general staff.
The speech, which was broadcasted on all media in both Persian and Arabic, revealed a dangerous secret concerning the late commander of the Quds Force. The secret is that General Qassem Soleimani “organized,” with the help of the Iranian army and the Revolutionary Guards, six armies outside his country’s borders in order to defend it.
These armies are: Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Palestine, Ansar Allah (aka the Houthis) in Yemen, the Syrian army, and the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq.
General Ali Rashid described those armies as “the forces of deterrence against potential attacks on Iran,” or as Soleimani saw it: “If the enemy wants to attack the Islamic Republic, it must first confront these armies.”
This secret concerns the five mentioned nations who share the indignity of being honored as safety belts for Iran. But Iraq has more at stake than any of the others because it is the only one that falls directly on Iran’s border, and its Popular Mobilization Forces are the most official of the six armies and the one with the strongest ties to the state.
The news went unnoticed in Iraq and in other countries as well. No noise. No resentment. It seemed that this is just how things are!
Anger and uproar were voiced after the second event of that day:
The “Peace and Recovery” conference was held in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan region.
The conference, which defends peace with Israel and urges Iraqi Jews to return to Iraq, was organized by the Center for Peace Communication, a non-profit based in New York.
This conference, as several observers have correctly pointed out, erred in two ways: First, it did not at all mention the Palestinian people’s suffering and the annexations and displacements they have been subjected to. Second, it provided Iran and its factions in Iraq, days before the parliamentary elections, an opportunity to inflame political life and mobilize against an easy enemy.
The enemy was indeed easy. Weakening the conference further, one of the conference’s major figures, Wissam Al-Hardan, published an opinion column in the Wall Street Journal entitled: Iraq Should Join the Abraham Accords. In the article, he calls for “full diplomatic relations with Israel and a new policy of mutual development and prosperity.”
He added that the conference would move in this direction, with the second step being to “seek face-to-face talks with Israelis,” which he says no one can prevent. Hardan thereby ascribed power to himself and the conference that they have nothing of it.
The whole thing could have been taken lightly, especially since no more than 300 people attended the conference. However, it was described this way: “A dubious conference,” “the conference of humiliation and betrayal,” “supported by regional political forces, even international, that lurk in the shadows;” “there are questions about its goals and timing” and “the faction behind organizing it.” In turn, Hezbollah added its voice to the choir of condemnations, describing the conference as a “failed attempt to promote a culture of dialogue with the enemy.”
The matter did not end with words. Actions were also taken: The Iraqi government condemned the conference. The Iraqi judiciary issued arrest warrants for several participants. The arrest warrants kept coming. The Iraqi presidency affirmed “Iraq’s firm position in support of the Palestinian cause and the realization of all of the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights.” It added that the president’s office reiterates Iraq’s categorical rejection of the question of normalization with Israel and that it considers the conference “an attempt to inflame the situation in Iraq and undermine civil peace.”
This terrorizing environment pushed some participants to issue statements claiming that they had not known about the conference and its goals beforehand. The Kurdistan autonomous region also distanced itself, though that didn’t prevent new waves of familiar suspicions about the Kurds and “their ties with Israel.”
Thus we find ourselves facing two hypotheses:
- Either the existence of 300 Iraqis supportive of normalization with Israel is bewildering, an awkward bewilderment that stems from the extreme failure to see the real world as it objectively is.
- Or 40 million Iraqis cannot tolerate the existence of 300 individuals who do not share their opinion. That would be a manifestation of limitless tyranny that implies a total lack of confidence in themselves and others that is also without limits.
The fact is that both hypotheses are correct. That is why the Iraqis sympathetic to the axis of resistance said, at the same time, rather, in the same sentence, that those three hundred individuals do not represent anyone and that they embody a dangerous plot that threatens Iraq. However, while combining these two assumptions speaks to just how poor Iraq’s health is, the country’s ills were a prerequisite for Soleimani being able to do what he had done and for Ali Rashid to say what he had said.