Former Iraqi finance and foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari said the abduction of Qataris in Iraq defeated the country’s sovereignty. This was not the first abduction of its kind. Before that, Turkish construction company workers were kidnapped in al-Sadr city in Baghdad. Both crimes were committed by militias affiliated with Iran.
Does it make sense that an armed gang detains a group of Qataris, who legally entered Iraq and who were under the protection of Iraqi security forces, upon Iran’s instructions? The Hezbollah Brigades in Iraq which are affiliated with Iran dared to publicly defy the government! They kidnapped the Qataris for 18 months and bargained on behalf of the Iranians to release them!
Iran is doing in Iraq what it did in Lebanon in the 1980s. Back then, Iran turned Lebanon into an arena against the West while maintaining the security of its own territories as it was far from the confrontations. Lebanon became a target for Israeli occupation and American shelling while Syrian forces wreaked havoc. Lebanon has been suffering ever since, and it is currently a state with incomplete sovereignty.
In the years following the exit of American troops from Iraq, Iran has succeeded in infiltrating and controlling the Iraqi state. Tehran went as far as imposing its interpretation of the Algiers border agreement between Iran and Iraq. Iran altered the path of water in Shatt al-Arab and obligated the Iraqi government to fund its militias in Iraq and Syria under the excuse of fighting terrorist organizations.Abdulrahman al-Rashed
In the past few years, the Tehran regime established several militias in Iraq to subjugate other forces. The biggest group is the Popular Mobilization which Iran has turned into a militia that is parallel to the army in order to weaken the central Iraqi authority. This is the same approach it adopted in Lebanon.
However, can the Iranian regime eliminate the Iraqi state which is different than Lebanon due to its big size, massive resources and regional strategic values?
It is a big battle in Iraq and the Iranians are trying to control the country while fighting with occupying Iraqi forces over resisting domination. This is all happening amid difficult circumstances.
Hiding from confrontation
Meanwhile, the government in Baghdad is hiding from confrontation and it has not voiced any objections despite Iran’s interferences and violation of sovereignty. The disintegration of Iraq is the expected result in case the Iranian intelligence succeeds in controlling official Iraqi institutions.
The Kurdistan region cannot remain a part of a system managed by Tehran. The Kurds have complained that Baghdad is no longer the center of the state due to its weak institutions. There are also five Sunni governorates which made similar complaints and they may once again reject Baghdad’s sovereignty although Iran has succeeded in recruiting a number of these governorates’ leaders, parliamentarians and media figures during the past 8 years.
It is not ruled out that Iraqi confrontations against Iranian domination and against Iranian militias in Shiite dominated governorates is a result of direct domination attempts. In the years following the exit of American troops from Iraq, Iran has succeeded in infiltrating and controlling the Iraqi state. Tehran went as far as imposing its interpretation of the Algiers border agreement between Iran and Iraq. Iran altered the path of water in Shatt al-Arab and obligated the Iraqi government to fund its militias in Iraq and Syria under the excuse of fighting terrorist organizations.
Considering its area, Iraq will not be like Lebanon, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards will not be able to easily grab it. Weakening Baghdad will lead to a dangerous vacuum that will influence the security of the region, including the security of Iran.
Iraq is also an important country for superpowers, including for the US and Russia. These countries will not allow any regional country, be it Iran or any other, to dominate Iraq without directly or indirectly confronting it.
These frequent Iranian acts of abduction and blackmail in Iraq are a clear mode of action threatening Iraq’s security, stability and unity of its lands.
This article is also available in Arabic.
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. He tweets @aalrashed.