The US and Europe are well-aware that Iran reached the Mediterranean Sea and that the governments of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon paved way for Iran to get this far. However, do they realize that this threatens their national security, economic and political interests?
Hanin Ghaddar, a Friedmann Visiting Fellow at the Washington Institute, wrote in a recent report: “Following its successes in the Syrian war, Iran’s next step is to infiltrate state institutions in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. Without serious action by the US government to counter Iran’s regional activities, any international support to Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq - and their financial and military institutions - might result in support for Iran’s Shia militias.”
Researcher Jackson Doering reached the same conclusion. Both Ghaddar and Doering think that any support granted to Lebanon or Syria or Iraq is in fact being granted to Iran considering that these countries’ governments are under Iran’s influence.
Relying on the Americans or Europeans only wastes time while Iran further expands in our countries.Sawsan Al Shaer
Both researchers address the phase which followed the end of war against ISIS and discuss what will happen in these countries after ISIS is eliminated. They both agree that Iran benefits the most from this phase as it is under the pretext of fighting ISIS that Iran’s troops reached the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea and controlled areas via its militias or decision-making processes via parties in support of it. This is what happened in Lebanon and what may happen in Iraq during the upcoming elections as militias armed by Iran aim to clone the experience of the Lebanese Hezbollah Party and establish political parties and use them to become part of the legislative authority while keeping their arms to threaten the state and other parties.
Renowned American writer Thomas L. Friedman said in an article published earlier this month that Syria is likely to become the most dangerous area in the world because US policy towards it is not clear and because other major players (Russia and Iran) care about securing their interests there.
Do the US and Europe realize that this Iranian presence threatens their interests?
Yes, they agree that Iran’s presence in this manner happened because of the former American administration’s “foolishness.” The latter administration thought the Iranian nuclear deal will make Iran establish ordinary relations with its neighbors and respect international vows and agreements and that peace will reign in the Middle East thanks to the Iranian “moderate wing!”
Neither the US nor Europe took action although they sensed this danger and neither has a comprehensive strategy to address this expansion. We can rather see how the Iraqi government is being dealt with in a different way than the Lebanese or Syrian governments.
Now after it’s been proven that this policy is not realistic, Ghaddar called on everyone not to provide aid to any of these governments because this means aiding Iran. She added that there must be one strategy when dealing with Iranian-backed militias in all three countries, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, as well as in Yemen considering they form one army led by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
Her call to the American administration is based on the notion that the latter’s threats against Iran did not yield results because they lacked practical measures. It does not look like the current American administration or that European countries, that have been neutralized after Iran tempted them with trade deals after being released from its shackles, have a comprehensive strategy. Haidar al-Abadi seems incapable of stopping Qassem Soleimani from moving between the Iraqi and Syrian borders to unify Iraqi militias with militias in Syria.
According to an article published by Leon Hadar at the American National Interest on Feb. 21, the Congress will not approve of any proposal that leads to a war with Iran as the Vietnam and Iraq syndromes remain alive and well and it’s difficult to convince the Congress of deploying American troops in the Middle East to resolve any conflict in the region.
In his article “I Helped Sell the False Choice of War Once. It’s Happening Again” in the New York Times, retired army colonel Lawrence Wilkerson said Trump’s recent campaign against Iran resembles that of George W. Bush before he invaded Iraq, adding that it’s unlikely for the Americans to forget the strategic mistake committed by Bush and to repeat it again in terms of the Iranian case.
Hence the only way we have is to rely on ourselves to confront the traitors who sold their countries and to make any help the governments of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon receive dependent on their actions to end their links to Iran. Relying on the Americans or Europeans only wastes time while Iran further expands in our countries.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Sawsan Al Shaer is a Bahraini writer and journalist. She tweets @sawsanalshaer.