Iran’s Attack on the Iraqi Prime Minister Is Only the Latest Attempt to Uproot Democracy

Nov. 11 2021

Early Sunday morning, drones bombed the house of Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi. While no one has taken credit for the attack, there is little doubt that it was carried out either by Iran or one of its Iraqi proxy militias. Just a month ago, the country had its fifth democratic parliamentary election since it was liberated from Saddam Hussein’s rule. It resulted the party representing the pro-Tehran militias won fewer seats than expected. Michael Knights provides some important background:

This is not the first time that militias have targeted Kadhimi and those close to him. Kadhimi’s first physical confrontation with Iran-backed militias came during the previous government formation process in April 2020, when nearly 100 armed militiamen from the Iran-supported terrorist group Kataib Hizballah (KH) surrounded Kadhimi and his security detail at the Prime Minister’s Guesthouse, a kind of hotel for government officials and visitors. At the time, Kadhimi’s position was head of the Iraqi National Intelligence Service. Though well-protected, his men were no match for a hundred militiamen, some carrying rocket-propelled grenades designed to blow up armored vehicles and bunkers.

Kadhimi’s step-by-step pushback against the militias is a frustratingly slow-burn strategy: one replacement of a compromised officer, one terrorism arrest, and one anti-corruption case at a time. But the arrests are building up, and the court cases are bearing fruit. Such work takes time, and Iraqis are rightfully impatient. Yet while any Iraqi prime minister can easily become a dictator and a death-squad commander, Kadhimi does not want rivers of blood in Baghdad if steadily chipping away can reduce the risk to ordinary people. This is why Iraq’s security forces arrest militiamen instead of summarily executing them, even though they may later be released due to corruption and intimidation.

Rule of law does still matter to some in Iraq, and they continue to believe they can win through it rather than by going beyond it. Kadhimi is one of the Iraqis who continues to advocate the rule of law, and the international community should recognize how rare it is to find a leader who chooses not to unleash brutality when he is under intense pressure to do so.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran, Iraq, Middle East


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