A recent Associated Press report spoke of Iran’s increased domination over Iraq under the cover of supporting it against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) organization. According to the report’s sources, the Iranians have sold Iraq nearly $10 billion worth of weapons to confront terrorism. These weapons include Kalashnikovs, rocket launchers and ammunition and the value of this weaponry may not even exceed $50 million!
Of course, it's needless to explain that $10 billion is a massive amount enough to have bought advanced armory from prominent countries which produce military hardware instead of rusty simple arms from Iran. But the objective was to fund Iran’s military needs during this phase in which it confronts domestic economic pressures.
The Iraqis who are currently overjoyed with this Iranian support will in the future end up complaining about Tehran’s domination over them. They will complain that they cannot freely take decisions according to their national interests. Iraq will then become submissive to Iran due to the latter’s increased political and security influence – just as Lebanon came under Syria’s influence in the 1970s when the latter’s troops entered the country to save it from Palestinian militias and only withdrew after 30 years of a quasi-occupation and after a threat by the U.N. Security Council.
The Iraqis who are currently overjoyed with this Iranian support will in the future end up complaining about Tehran’s domination over them.Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Iraq, too, will become an Iranian farm which Iranian revolutionary guards, politicians, mediators and brokers exploit. Iraqis then will find problems coming from Iran increasing by the year, just like what happened to the Lebanese people who brought the Syrians into their country only to find out later that the chaos and violence of Palestinian militias were less than those coming the Syrian army. The Syrians controlled the Lebanese population and exploited the country and dictated all of its affairs, from the smallest of details to major decisions such as electing a president, a prime minister or a house speaker. They killed whoever disagreed with them.
The Iranian regime will go as far as to humiliate the Iraqis after claiming credit for protecting Baghdad from an ISIS invasion. We all know that the terrorist organization ISIS turned away from the capital and headed towards Mosul and Kurdistan when the Iranians weren’t even there to confront it. Shiite leaders will pay a higher price than others for the Iranian presence on Iraqi soil because Iranian influence will remain limited in Sunni areas no matter how expanded their military and security presence is in other parts of Iraq.
A Shiite leader claimed that the United States supported Sunni extremists over the past years and that it must accept Shiite extremists as well. This is an indicator of how Iran will empower Shiite extremists over moderates and other respectful Shiite and Sunni political parties. The American presence in Iraq was temporary, and it was the Americans who toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime after the Iraqi resistance - both Shiite and Kurdish - failed to do so.
If Iraqis keep silent over the Iranian regime’s incursion into their lives, they will suffer the oppression and cruelty which the Iranian people themselves are suffering from. In the end, the Iraqis will view the Iranians as an occupying force and they will be fought and expelled from Iraq just like their Mongol, British and American predecessors.
On the other hand, it may be in the interest of other countries for Iran to be involved in the Iraqi swamp and to clash with Arab Sunni powers at first and with Arab Shiite powers later. The Iranian regime has been smart and cautious enough to avoid direct military confrontation outside its borders. Even when the Afghani Taliban forces provoked the Iranian regime and killed many of its followers, Iran withdrew from the front line and did not engage in a confrontation with them. During the wars of the past 30 years, Iran settled with using “regional proxies” - like Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and the Houthis in Yemen - to defend its agendas. It is these parties’ men who die on behalf of the Iranians. The entrance of Iran’s forces into Iraq and of its militias into Syria shows another side of Tehran and marks a new advanced phase of the struggle in the region.
Published on Asharq Al-Awsat on Jan. 13, 2015.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.
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