There’s Still a Chance to Save Iraq from Iranian Domination

After failing to assassinate the Iraqi prime minister earlier this month, Tehran-backed militias are seeking other ways to destabilize the country and to assert their power. As Hussain Abdul-Hussain explains, the militias are following the playbook used by Hizballah, another Iranian proxy, to cement its control of Lebanon—which it has now maintained for over a decade. Abdul-Hussain argues, however, that Iraq is not yet lost:

Iraq might prove to be a harder nut to crack than Lebanon. To start with, Lebanon’s Shiite population . . . numbers 1 million. In Iraq, the Shiites count around 20 million, which means that it would take Iran twenty times as much money to buy off the Iraqi Shiite community, a sum it could never afford.

Second, unlike impoverished and resourceless Lebanon, Iraq is the fourth-largest oil producer in the world, bringing its treasury some $50 billion annually and allowing the Iraqi state to be one of the largest employers in the world. As such, the Iraqi government has been able to outbid Tehran in trying to buy Shiite loyalty.

So far, Iraq has proven to be far more difficult for Tehran to control, a lesson Washington should heed. Before the United States withdraws the remaining 2,500 military advisers in Iraq, it is worth remembering that the country is not lost to Iran yet and that, with global support, Baghdad can beat Iran and disband its militias. All Washington needs to do is have some faith in anti-Islamic Republic Iraqis, and some patience in maintaining the currently costless U.S. policy on Iran in Iraq.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy

What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship