Iraqis and Lebanese are standing up to sectarian militia rule

Will the Iranian militias have the last word in the region? Before the uprisings in Iraq and Lebanon, that answer would have been “yes.”
Saturday 26/10/2019
Lebanese demonstrators wave national flags during a demonstration against the government, on the 10th day of protests across Lebanon. (dpa)
Lebanese demonstrators wave national flags during a demonstration against the government, on the 10th day of protests across Lebanon. (dpa)

There is no hope for a better future for any country ruled by a militia or sectarian militias. This applies to Lebanon, Iraq, parts of Yemen and, to a large extent, Syria.

Sooner or later, Iraqis will return to the street after the recent popular movement was suppressed by the Popular Mobilisation Forces, which is Iran’s operational tool in Iraq.

There is no indication that the Iraqi government headed by Adel Abdul-Mahdi will escape accountability for crimes committed by sectarian militias during the protests in which dozens of people were killed. The repression of the movement is reminiscent of the suppression of the Green Revolution in 2009 in Iran, within the context of shameful US complicity under Barack Obama.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, who heads a pro-Iranian militia, defined the red lines that the popular uprising cannot cross. One of the red lines is the departure of Lebanese President Michel Aoun, who was Hezbollah’s candidate for the position of president.

Hezbollah will not let go of the current cabinet, in which it has three ministers. The party simply could not care less about sanctions that its presence in the government may incur for Lebanon. It does not want to accept that the greatest, and perhaps only, favour it can do for Lebanon, the Lebanese and the Shia community, is to find a way to turn itself into a Lebanese party like all other parties and stop being an armed sectarian militia that is nothing more than a brigade of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Is Hezbollah capable of being Lebanese? The answer is that this is impossible considering Iran’s investment in the party, an investment linked to the continued flow of Iranian money for the sole purpose of changing the nature of the Shia community in a country that adores the culture of life.

Iran’s militias, led by Hezbollah, have played a pivotal role in the war the Syrian people have been subjected to since 2011, when they revolted against a minority regime that had linked itself to Tehran.

What is happening in Syria is one of the consequences of Iranian intervention through sectarian militias, an intervention that resulted in having Syria fall under five occupying forces — Russia, Turkey, Iran, Israel and even the United States, despite US President Donald Trump’s talk of a military pullout from Syria.

Iranian militias in Syria have thrived on the Islamic State (ISIS) presence in the region. They and ISIS are two sides of the same coin. The existence of these militias is justification for an organisation such as ISIS to exercise its brutality on the one hand and for the Syrian regime and those behind it to claim they are waging war on terrorism on the other.

In Yemen, there is no hope of a political breakthrough as long as the Houthis control Sana’a and its surrounding areas and the strategic port of Hodeidah. The Houthis, another sectarian militia affiliated with Iran, want only to cut off part of Yemeni territory and turn it into an Iranian base.

We are living in the era of Iranian militias. They are advancing everywhere and nobody is stopping them, except perhaps the Iraqi and Lebanese people. Are the militias unstoppable?

In Syria, everybody surrendered to the militias. The Russians and Turks have taken what they wanted and Iran controls certain areas and is spreading to others, including the vicinity of Aleppo. Israel is satisfied with what is happening in Syria after obtaining Russian guarantees for its safety and receiving the American green light to annex the Golan Heights, which it has occupied since 1967.

In Yemen, everybody surrendered to Iran’s will. There has been no change in the long-standing battle fronts in Yemen and there are indications that this status quo is going to last longer, unless there is a significant development in Hodeidah.

It is no secret that everyone is in trouble in Lebanon but the importance of the popular Lebanese revolution lies in the fact that all Lebanese communities have become aware of the reality of rejecting Hezbollah’s domination of the government and parliament.

This dominance is exercised through a Christian cover. Hezbollah would never have acquired this cover were it not for the presence in the government of people such as Gebran Bassil, an ambitious politician willing to please Hezbollah by going to Damascus to discuss the question of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, knowing that the Syrian regime does not want them to return.

The regime does not want them because most of them are Sunnis from areas around Damascus and near the border with Lebanon and Iran has plans for those areas.

Iraq stands to play a key role in shaping the future of the region. Since the political upheaval of 2003, it has become clear that Iraq’s Shia Arabs are not willing to bow to the Iranian occupation, regardless of the volatile US policy there and of the changing moods of US President Donald Trump.

Will the Iranian militias have the last word in the region? Before the uprisings in Iraq and Lebanon, that answer would have been “yes.”

Fortunately, however, there exist in both countries people who resist Iranian hegemony and it is reassuring to see among them the Shias of Iraq and the Shias of Lebanon.