Iraqi Political Chaos Is a Boon for Iran

June 28 2022

The Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, one of Iraq’s most influential political figures, recently instructed his party’s 75 parliamentarians to resign after six months of political gridlock during which he was unable to form a government. Most likely, writes Bobby Ghosh, the Sadrists will take the streets, while the Islamic Republic will expand its influence in Baghdad:

Protest, often violent, is Sadr’s stock in trade. Hailing from a family of Shiite clerics who paid for their opposition to Saddam Hussein with their lives, he made his own name in 2003 by raising a militia, known as the Mahdi Army, against the U.S.-led coalition that toppled the dictator. Sadr’s fighters were trounced, but his anti-American rhetoric never waned. More recently, he has cast himself as a nationalist, opposed to the malign influence of Shiite-majority Iran in Iraqi affairs.

The political churn in Baghdad will, at least in the short run, yield butter for Tehran. By Iraqi law, the parliamentary seats abandoned by Sadr have gone to the candidates who polled the second-largest number of votes. In most cases, those were candidates from Iran-backed parties. That bloc, known as the Coordination Framework, is now in the strongest position to form a coalition government.

This would mean the return to the premiership of Nouri al-Maliki, whose two previous terms in the job, from 2006-14 were characterized by an open license for Iran to deepen its influence in Iraqi affairs, especially in the country’s security forces. Tehran also backed a parallel network of Shiite militias, which it has used to attack U.S. military forces in Iraq and launch missile and drone strikes into Saudi Arabia.

Read more at Bloomberg

More about: Iran, Iraq, Shiites

Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria