Suppression is Tehran’s Next Step in its new Colonies

Wednesday, 13 November, 2019 - 18:15

Suppression is Tehran’s Next Step in its new Colonies

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I am not sure how true or accurate was the report published by some Lebanese newspapers about a visit by the Syrian Defense Minister Fahd Jassem Al-Freij to Tehran, a few years ago.

In that visit the Iranian leadership allegedly told Al-Freij that Tehran had already invested more than 20 billion US Dollars and would want “collateral” for its human, political and military “sacrifices”: a vast swathe of land extending from northern to southern Syria.

According to that report, and upon the minister informing Bashar Assad of Tehran’s demands, Russia’s intervention began to take a more direct nature short of an open confrontation with Iran, its tactical ally.

Russia began massive deployment in northwest Syria including the Alawite Mountains and the Valley of the Christians (also known as Wadi Al-Nadhara). Later, the Russians extended their military presence southwards in the shape of the Fifth Brigade.

Russia’s intervention in the northeast was obliquely intended to protect the Alawite and Christian minorities none of which would entertain living under the influence of the “Vali e Faqih”. The Fifth Brigade also provided a third religious minority, the Druze, a tiny chance of protection against Iranian expansion led by the Hezbollah militia. Indeed, the latter now holds sway in the Hawran region (southern Syria), as it works on establishing the “Tehran – Beirut Corridor”.

The above is quite relevant given what is taking place in Iraq and Lebanon, and the impending de facto partition of Syria.

It seems obvious that the Iranian leadership - which is fully dependent on the might of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) inside Iran – would never relinquish the hegemony it has gained throughout the Arab world since 1979.

It is unimaginable that Tehran would forego the billions of dollars it has spent on expansions and on entrenching its occupation of Arab lands. It is also impossible Tehran that would let go of its current successful historical “revenge” which constitutes the ethos of the political and sectarian Iranian regime, even if the price was rivers of blood of Shiite Arabs, after mass displacement of Sunni Arabs, without sparing even Christian Arabs!

The challenge to Iranian hegemony in Iran, spreading from Karbala to Nasseriyyah, Al-Najaf, to Al-Amarah, and Al-Hillah to Basra; all of which in the Shiite heartland is no mean feat. This is something that neither the IRGC’s Qasem Soleimani nor his Iraqi henchmen could keep quiet about.

The scene is similar in southern and northeast Lebanon. The Shiite towns of Nabatiyeh, Tyre, Kfar Rumman and Baalbeck have joined the popular uprising, as the TV appearances and implicit threats of Hezbollah’s Secretary General have become as frequent as soap operas.

Back in Iraq, as its uprising gathers pace as does confronting it with bullets, security forces have escalated its measures by attempting to limit demonstrations in the capital Baghdad to the Tahrir Square in the Rasafa bank of River Tigris. Technically, this means stifling the uprising and turning it into a “folkloric scene” before the media, but politically, this attempt reflects the insistence of the Iraqi government and its pro-Iran security apparatus on separating the social and political demands. In this they want to claim that financial and political corruption have nothing to do with the state of hegemony that prevents accountability, and subsequently, punishment.

The same is also true in Lebanon. It is unthinkable that rampant corruption involving billions of dollars would exist in a normal and genuine state, run by proper governments, and held accountable by a representative parliament. However, this is exactly the case!

In both Iraq and Lebanon, Iran, through the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and Hezbollah, runs the political and security scene, and dominates the civil service and judiciary. Thus, no corruption exists away from this status quo, and those who benefit from, cooperate with and are protected by it!

So far, however, there are some differences between the Iraqi and the Lebanese cases, including:

1 - Suppression in Iraq has been bloody, unlike what has been seen so far in Lebanon where Hezbollah – the only armed militia in the country – has not started an “all-out war” on its opponents.

2 - The fast collapsing economic situation is keeping Lebanon’s protesters focused on social issues and corruption, rather than openly touching on Hezbollah’s de facto “occupation”. Although most wise Lebanese realize the direct link between the “occupation” and corruption. They would prefer, at this stage, to avoid provoking the excessive force of the pro-Iran militia, and pushing it to go for a damaging bloody suppression.

3 - While the governmental power in Iraq is openly and clearly in the hands of the Shiite political and pro-Iran militia leaderships, Lebanon’s constitution is pluralistic. Lebanon boasts an influential Christian president and a Sunni prime minister, whose sectarian status allowed him to resign in an indirect challenge to Iranian threats delivered by Hezbollah.

4 - Unlike Iraq, Lebanon borders Israel, which demands Iran’s special attention and calculations.

Still, Iran may eventually decide on opting for a military solution. It may think that the time is right as Syria advances towards realistic partition - albeit in a federal cloak – and as regional and global sectors of influence are being created on Syrian soil. Also in the background are Turkey’s miscalculations, Israel’s continued governmental crises fueled by the now familiar bickering and a foggy global scene made ever more dangerous by American chaos, Russian encroachment and European confusion.

According to Tehran’s calculations, the world community on whose divisions on the nuclear agreement it has gambled successfully would be unable to agree on a strategy to contain its onslaught against its opponents.

Despite this scenario, there is still room for optimism. The “Iranian plan”, which has demonized the Sunni Muslims through accusing them of being an incubator of ISIS and presenting Tehran as a “partner” in the “war on terrorism” (Sunni, of course) with external collusion, has been dealt a strong blow from within the Shiite heartlands.

It has been brought down by the Shiites before all others; indeed, from Karbala with all its sectarian symbolism!

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi may say whatever he wants, and theorize as he pleases, in defending an abnormal situation. Likewise, the Secretary General of Lebanon’s Hezbollah may continue to bet on imposing his will on the Lebanese people by threatening them with civil war and pushing his allied president to obstruct any political solution.

Both may do what they want, but there is no guarantee anymore that Iran would succeed in suppressing its new “colonies”!

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