Last week, mass demonstrations erupted in Lebanon over proposed tax increases and have since then intensified, spreading throughout the major cities despite proposals of reform from the government. Meanwhile, the anti-government protests in Iraq, which began early this month, have subsided somewhat, but not yet abated. Hanin Ghaddar points out that in both cases, demonstrators are reacting to economic hardship and corruption by turning against governments controlled by the Islamic Republic:
Iran created proxies in both [Lebanon and Iraq], gave them power through funding and arms, and helped them infiltrate state institutions. Today, state institutions in both countries have one main job: instead of protecting and serving the people, they have to protect and serve Iranian interests.
Observers have called the current protests in Lebanon “unprecedented” for a number of reasons. For the first time in a long time, Lebanese have realized that the enemy is within—it is their own government and political leaders—not an outside occupier or regional influencer. In addition, political leaders have been unable to control the course of the protests, which are taking place across all sects and across all regions. . . . The scale shows that the protesters are capable of uniting beyond their sectarian and political affiliations. What brought them together is an ongoing economic crisis that has hurt people from all sects and regions.
But most significantly, the protests are unprecedented since Hizballah also took an unusual stance. Having prided itself for decades on protecting the impoverished and fighting injustice, Hizballah . . . decided to side with the authorities against the people in the streets. . . . Scenes of Shiite protesters joining other Lebanese in the streets terrified the party’s leadership. Lebanon’s Shiites have always been the backbone of Hizballah’s domestic and regional power. . . . But for the first time since Hizballah was formed in the 1908s, Lebanese Shiites are turning against it. In Nabatieh, the group’s heartland in the south of Lebanon, Shiite protesters even burned the offices of Hizballah’s leaders.
[Likewise], only Shiites took to the streets in Iraq [to demonstrate against the Shiite-controlled government]. Wherever Iran wins, mayhem prevails.