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

Nov. 24 2021

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

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