If there is a redemptive marker in the tangled web of Persian Gulf politics, it may very well be the burning of the Iranian Consulate in the Iraqi city of Najaf last Wednesday.
Prior to this, there had been an attack on the Iranian Consulate in Karbala.
It would be an important enough story illustrating Iraqi frustration with the imperialism of Iran over their country, but what is more interesting is that the majority of protestors are Shiite Iraqis, who one would assume would feel a closer kinship to Iran. This anti-Iranian groundswell, combined with the protests over Iraq’s government corruption and lack of services, offers the window for the United States to retrieve the Iraqi situation from the mess created by the Obama administration.
Regardless of one’s opinion about the Iraq war, the war would have been for naught if the United States continues to allow the dominance of an evil foreign dictatorship controlling a failed domestic regime. The current crisis where the Iraqi people are targeting both offer the United States the opportunity to repair both.
The problem with Iran and its adventurism in Iraq are clear. Iran is seeking a Persian-Shiite empire in the Persian Gulf, and has engaged in a laundry list of policies and behaviors designed to kill Americans and hurt American interests since 1979. It is engaged in a massive campaign to produce its own nuclear weapons; it is engaged in building, modernizing, and developing long-range ballistic missile capabilities; it is the number-one state sponsor of terrorism, with groups like Hamas and Hezbollah; it is the number-one partner or sponsor of other rogue regimes like Syria; it is the number one conduit for the training and arming of Shiite militias in Iran that killed U.S. troops and Iraqis; it has assisted, when it deems its own interests are at stake, both al-Qaida and the Taliban (regardless of theological differences, just as in the case of Hamas); and it continues to be one of the worst human rights violators of its own people.
Protests causing the current tremors in Iraq started from the Firing of Lt. Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, a popular Iraqi counter-terrorism leader and former commander of the “Gold Division.” He had a special relationship with the United States and coalition partners, particularly in the fight against ISIS. He was specifically feared by Iran, who has attempted to intimidate Iraq by controlling and supporting numerous Shiite militias throughout the country.
Leaked Iranian intelligence cables indicate that the head of Iran’s powerful Quds Force, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the most virulent of anti-American actors, has attempted to be the de-facto Viceroy over Iraq. He continuously manipulates Iraqi politics and politicians.
These cables delineated how Iran exploited the vacuum created by the Obama administration’s pull out of Iraq and President Obama’s disinterest in ensuring Iraqi security and independence.
Iran, reeling from its own protests, has overplayed its hand in the Persian Gulf, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. They have created a window of vulnerability that the United States should not hesitate to act upon. The ultimate goal of American foreign policy in Iraq has been a stable, democratic, and independent nation that could not only be a bulwark against Iranian expansionism but also be a showcase to the Arab world, countering both extremism and partnering with the United States.
In 2008, President Bush said it best concerning our future policy toward Iran, and it now clearly applies to Iraq. “We must stand with the good and decent people of Iran and Syria, who deserve so much better than the life they have today.” American foreign policy should strike multiple blows against the tyranny and aggression that the Iranian government fosters over the entire region and its own people.
This piece was first published at Newsmax on Wednesday, 4 December 2019.