Why Iraqis Reject the Palestinian Cause

Sept. 30 2021

In northern Iraq last week, some 300 tribal leaders, politicians, and other notables—among them both Sunnis and Shiites—gathered to call for peace with Israel. The government swiftly responded by moving to arrest all the attendees, while Iran-backed militias threatened them with violence. Hussain Abdul-Hussain sets the event against the backdrop of Saddam Hussein’s longstanding support for Palestinian terrorism, and Palestinian leaders’ support for him:

When Iraqis think of Islam, they think of their capital Baghdad, the Jewel of the Abbasid Caliphate, which was the apex of Muslim civilization when Muslims were leading the world in knowledge, science, literature, and economics. When Iraqis think of Islam, or Arab nationalism, they rarely think of Jerusalem, and hence, Palestine rarely meant much to their Muslim or Arab identity.

When America launched Operation Desert Storm to eject Saddam’s troops from Kuwait, the Iraqi dictator calculated that he could line up the Arabs behind him by firing scud missiles at Israel. . . . The Arabs—including radicals like Syria’s Hafez al-Assad and Libya’s Moammar Ghadaffi—never took Saddam’s side. Only Palestinians took to the streets and cheered for Saddam, shouting “Oh Saddam our love, hit Tel Aviv.” (It rhymes in Arabic).

After the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the UN imposed an embargo on Iraq, which emptied Saddam’s coffers. Saddam still paid enormous sums to [the families of Palestinians “martyrs”] while Iraqis were suffering a famine. Inside Iraq, Palestinians and their families were Saddam’s most notorious [domestic] intelligence operatives, and enjoyed Saddam’s generosity while Iraqis lived in poverty. When America toppled Saddam, Iraqis brought down Saddam’s statues and ejected his Palestinians.

But for Iran and its proxies—which exercise enormous influence in Baghdad—the anti-Israel cause is of paramount importance. It is they, according to Abdul-Hussain, who are pushing to punish those calling for peace with Israel.

Read more at House of Wisdom

More about: Iran, Iraq, Palestinians, Saddam Hussein

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy