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

November 24, 2021 | Hussain Abdul-Hussain
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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.

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