Growing Iranian Influence Threatens Iraqi Christians

The conquest of much of Iraq by Islamic State (IS) had a devastating effect on the country’s Christian population, most of whom identify as Assyrians. While the survivors have managed to rebuild some of their communities, many are now threatened by the Iran-backed militias that have increasingly exercised power in the country. Uzay Bulut reports:

The Nineveh Plain is considered the ancient Assyrian heartland and is the only region in Iraq where the largest demographic group is Christian. Assyrians there even have their own security force, the Nineveh Plain Protection Units. Most of the Nineveh plain is currently divided between the Shiite militia and the Sunni Kurdish Peshmerga.

Ashur Sargon Eskrya, the president of the Assyrian Aid Society of Iraq, [states] that Assyrians and other religious minorities such as the Yazidis, caught in the middle of these forces, have faced both physical violence and political marginalization. “The demographic and cultural structure of the Nineveh Plains continues to change changing due to increased Iranian domination, the ongoing presence of IS, and the competing tensions between the central government of Iraq and the Kurdish Regional Government,” he said.

Bulut goes on to cite the analysis of Juliana Taimoorazy, a prominent Iraqi Christian activist:

The Islamic Republic of Iran’s reach through its Shiite militia in the Nineveh Plain has severely affected the Christians of Iraq: this is one of the main reasons why Christians in the post-IS era are not returning to their homes. And let us not forget that [the Iranian] general Qassem Suleimani’s strategy of dismantling IS as an institution was part of a larger Islamic Republic expansionist scheme to create a Shiite crescent [extending] all the way to the Mediterranean. It intended to use the Nineveh Plain as a corridor to the West.

Read more at Gatestone

More about: Iran, Iraq, ISIS, Middle East Christianity

If Iran Goes Nuclear, the U.S. Will Be Forced Out of the Middle East

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported in May that Iran has, or is close to having, enough highly enriched uranium to build multiple atomic bombs, while, according to other sources, it is taking steps toward acquiring the technology to assemble such weapons. Considering the effects on Israel, the Middle East, and American foreign policy of a nuclear-armed Iran, Eli Diamond writes:

The basic picture is that the Middle East would become inhospitable to the U.S. and its allies when Iran goes nuclear. Israel would find itself isolated, with fewer options for deterring Iran or confronting its proxies. The Saudis and Emiratis would be forced into uncomfortable compromises.

Any course reversal has to start by recognizing that the United States has entered the early stages of a global conflict in which the Middle East is set to be a main attraction, not a sideshow.

Directly or not, the U.S. is engaged in this conflict and has a significant stake in its outcome. In Europe, American and Western arms are the only things standing between Ukraine and its defeat at the hands of Russia. In the Middle East, American arms remain indispensable to Israel’s survival as it wages a defensive, multifront war against Iran and its proxies Hamas and Hizballah. In the Indo-Pacific, China has embarked on the greatest military buildup since World War II, its eyes set on Taiwan but ultimately U.S. primacy.

While Iran is the smallest of these three powers, China and Russia rely on it greatly for oil and weapons, respectively. Both rely on it as a tool to degrade America’s position in the region. Constraining Iran and preventing its nuclear breakout would keep waterways open for Western shipping and undermine a key node in the supply chain for China and Russia.

Diamond offers a series of concrete suggestions for how the U.S. could push back hard against Iran, among them expanding the Abraham Accords into a military and diplomatic alliance that would include Saudi Arabia. But such a plan depends on Washington recognizing that its interests in Eastern Europe, in the Pacific, and in the Middle East are all connected.

Read more at National Review

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy