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One of them is the assassination..A European report lays out three scenarios behind al-Sadr's withdrawal


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 2022-07-05 10:11

Shafaq News/ The "GIS Reports" website, which is based in the Principality of Liechtenstein, considered that the exit of Sadrist leader Muqtada al-Sadr from the political game, a decision that was motivated by fear of being assassinated, and that the withdrawal of his deputies from Parliament constitutes a victory for Iran's attempts to restore control of Iraqi politics. 

The European report, which was translated by Shafak News Agency, explained; In Iraq, Iran is trying to do what it did after the recent elections in Lebanon, as despite the fact that its Iraqi allies lost control of the parliament after the October 2021 elections, it is trying to control the parliament as a necessary move in order to impose its hegemony on the government in Baghdad. 

The report drew; In both countries, Lebanon and Iraq, Iran is trying to achieve a comeback after the elections, by interfering in the two countries, considering that its campaign to extend its influence is achieving greater success in Iraq. 

The report pointed out that unlike the Lebanese case, where the Shiites remained united, Sadr's hatred of former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his sharp reservations about Iranian influence, caused severing the ranks of the Shiite camp, adding that when Iran failed to reunite the Shiite camp, it paralyzed Parliament, Then I devised a way to turn the tables on Al-Sadr without having to go to new elections again. 

After referring to al-Sadr's success in forming the tripartite alliance with the Sunnis and Kurds, the report considered that "Tehran felt angry," and a decision was issued to freeze parliament, as it decided that the parliamentary majority was not enough to elect a new president, as it is now imperative that two-thirds of the parliament attend, adding that although al-Sadr was able to Recruiting more than 165 deputies required in his coalition to obtain a majority, but he now needs to convince an additional 53 deputies from outside his coalition to participate in the voting session, which al-Sadr was unable to secure. 

The report then reviewed the pressure campaigns exerted against the Kurdistan Democratic Party, including the missile bombing of the house of an oil businessman close to the party on March 13, and the setting fire to the party’s headquarters in Baghdad on March 28, which prompted the party to Suspending its activities and attendance in the federal capital, but the party refused to budge on its position of belonging to the Triple Alliance. 

The report added that Iran sent additional messages by bombing an oil refinery near Erbil at the beginning of May, and then by two missile attacks on energy facilities owned by the "Car Group" of the same businessman. Nevertheless, the party remained committed to the Triple Alliance. He added that the attacks continued on June 22, 24 and 25, bombing the Khor Mor gas field, the largest in the Kurdistan Region, recalling that the field is considered important for the party's plans to export gas to Europe and Turkey. 

After referring to the resignation of al-Sadr’s deputies from parliament, and then their replacement on June 23 by other deputies who took the oath, Ahmed al-Rubaie, who belongs to the Iran-backed bloc, was quoted as saying that his parliamentary alliance now enjoys about 130 seats, which is the main force in the parliament. of 329 seats. However, the Iran-backed coalition did not achieve a majority of the 165 seats. 


Sadr's resignation: Fear!

The report then questioned what prompted al-Sadr to these resignations, which the European report described as a "dramatic, courageous, desperate or cowardly step." 

The report considered that "there are three logical explanations" for these resignations, one of which is that al-Sadr considered that the political crisis could not be resolved, and that is why he preferred Iran to achieve its hegemony and exploitation, over chaos.

He added that the second explanation is that al-Sadr "wants chaos", as he believes that his move will either encourage others to resign and thus force new elections, or that the youth of the Shiite generation will demonstrate again, especially if he orders his supporters to do so.

As for the third, more likely explanation, it is "fear," recalling the assassination of prominent security researcher Hisham al-Hashemi two years ago, and the attempt to target al-Kazemi himself in November 2021, adding that al-Sadr can expect the same with him. 



The report concluded by saying that al-Sadr's role in the next stage is still unclear, but his current is likely to remain a "strong force within society." from time. 

However, the report considered that "the most likely scenario is Iran's success in forming a majority coalition that supports it, with the additional number of deputies required for a two-thirds quorum." 

He also indicated the possibility that a President of the Republic would be elected, who would be Barham Salih, who would appoint a prime minister from the Iranian option, and if the choice was Al-Kazemi, he would be more captive than it is now. 

He added that Iraq will sink further into official corruption and the Iranian quicksand, while Sadr will take revenge by not granting legitimacy to any government. 

The least likely scenario, according to the European report, is holding new elections, but this is without many complications. 

The report also concluded by saying that in the upcoming elections, Iran will make every effort to ensure the victory of its supporters. That is why the report called for “intense protection from the United Nations and Arab and Western countries,” because otherwise, the Iraqi elections will not be democratic, as Iran, through its militias, will turn Iraq’s elections into “a nightmare of murder, kidnapping, threats and bribery,” adding that if support is provided It will be a battle between courage and terrorism, but unfortunately in Iraq, terrorism is the one that wins every time.

Translation: Shafak News Agency

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Breaking away from Iran (Part 2): Iraq

The mass resignations of 73 recently elected Iraqi lawmakers led by nationalist Muqtada al-Sadr are a victory for Iran’s attempts to regain control over Baghdad’s politics.

Iraq, Iran, politics
Motorists in Sadr City, Iraq, drive past a poster bearing the image of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Iraqi lawmakers of the Sadrist bloc, the largest in parliament with 73 seats, resigned on June 13, 2022, amid an ongoing political stalemate over forming a new government. © Getty Images

In a nutshell

  • Muqtada al-Sadr’s exit from politics may have been driven by fear of assassination
  • Tehran is closer to being able to create a pro-Iranian majority in Iraq’s parliament
  • Without massive outside help, Iraq’s elections will never be democratic again

The first part of this series explored how, in the May 2022 elections, Iran lost control over Lebanon’s parliament. However, through Hezbollah and its allies, Iran can still paralyze the Lebanese parliament and manipulate lawmakers to serve Tehran’s interests.

This final segment explores how Iran is attempting to achieve the same goal in Iraq, after initially losing its hold over the Iraqi parliament in the October 2021 elections. Securing a grip on the lawmakers is essential to Tehran establishing hegemony over the government in Baghdad.

In both Middle East nations, Iran remains a powerful force. But voters in both countries dealt setbacks to Iran’s supporters at the ballot box, a first step in the arduous struggle to shake off the Iranian yoke. Tehran, however, is trying to make a postelection comeback through aggressive meddling in both nations. Its campaign of influence and intimidation is currently more successful in Iraq than in Lebanon.

Iraq’s parliamentary elections

In October 2021, Iraq held early elections for its 329-seat parliament. For more than eight months, the nation of 40 million people has remained in leadership chaos with a stalemate over the formation of a new government and a ruling coalition in parliament.

These early elections were demanded by millions of almost exclusively Shia Muslim demonstrators who protested the corruption of their own Shia-controlled government and Iran’s clout in Baghdad.

The demonstrations were partially successful. They catapulted Mustafa al-Kadhimi to the premiership, and he introduced a new electoral law that paved the way for the October vote. Inexplicably, many of the same demonstrators boycotted the elections that they had demanded, leading to a record low 42 percent voter turnout. Surprisingly, though, the results still inflicted a major blow against Iran’s supporters. The pro-Iranian militias, who murdered at least 600 demonstrators and wounded thousands of them, lost 26 out of their 48 parliamentary seats. Iranian allies remained strong but, like in the Lebanese elections of May 2022, the pro-Iranian parties lost their parliamentary majority in Iraq.

Muqtada al-Sadr wins, then quits

The great winner was the maverick Shia politician, junior cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Out of 329 seats, his mostly Shia Alliance Towards Reform party won the largest number, 73 in all, potentially turning him into a kingmaker.

Mr. Sadr is an Iraq-first nationalist who opposes Iranian control just as he opposed America’s invasion. Tehran’s main problem with him is his intense hatred of Iran’s champion in Iraq, former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose State of Law party won a considerable 34 seats.

Tehran was livid when Muqtada al-Sadr succeeded in gluing together a slight majority coalition that excluded Iran’s supporters.

Unlike the Lebanese case, where the Shias remained united, Mr. Sadr’s passionate loathing for Mr. Maliki and his strong reservations about Iran’s influence ripped the Shia camp asunder. Iran could not reunite the Shia camp, so it resorted to paralyzing parliament. Then it devised a way to turn the tables on Mr. Sadr without going to new elections that Tehran’s supporters were almost certain to lose again.

A few months after the elections, Mr. Sadr succeeded in gluing together a slight majority coalition called Saving the Homeland, consisting of 168 out of 329 lawmakers. It included Shias, Sunnis and Kurds, but excluded Iran’s supporters. Tehran was livid. In a masterstroke, it persuaded a key supporter, Dr. Faiq Zaidan, president of the Federal Supreme Judicial Council and chief of the Federal Court of Cassation, to issue a ruling that effectively froze parliament. According to the new ruling, a parliamentary majority is not enough to elect a new president of Iraq. It now also requires a two-thirds quorum of lawmakers to be present. Even though Mr. Sadr managed to recruit to his coalition more than the required 165 parliament members for a majority, he now needed to convince an extra 53 members outside of his coalition to just show up for the vote.    

The new president is the only one who can pick a prime minister, who then appoints the cabinet of ministers. Mr. Sadr managed to convince many neutral MPs to attend the confirmation vote on the new president, but still failed to reach the required two-thirds quorum. The court’s new ruling is unconstitutional, but Mr. Sadr and his supporters have no higher authority to which they could appeal.

Dr. Zaidan is a longtime supporter of Iran. During his PhD studies at the Islamic University of Lebanon, he was believed to be affiliated with Hezbollah. On June 9, 2021, he pressured the Iraqi judiciary to release militia leader Qasim Muslih just two weeks after he was arrested for the premeditated murder of a protest leader. In March 2022, Dr. Zaidan’s Federal Supreme Court disbanded a committee that had been formed by Prime Minister Kadhimi to investigate corruption cases and major crimes. This move evidently came because the committee investigated a few pro-Iranian politicians and officials.  

The new court ruling brought the democratic process to a halt, giving Tehran the time it needed to pulverize Mr. Sadr’s coalition. Pressure on the Sunni parties peeled off too few MPs. Therefore, the Kurds became the next target of the intimidation campaign. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), a Kurdish party, won 16 seats. Led by the Talabani family, PUK had collaborated with pro-Iranian parties from the outset. The bigger Kurdish party, the Barzani–led Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) with 32 parliamentary seats, is the leading force in the autonomous Kurdistan Region. It had supported Mr. Sadr and opposed Iran’s allies.

Iraq is enormously important to Iran as a strategic and economic asset.

The first Iranian step to coerce the KDP to change sides came on March 13.  Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) lobbed 12 missiles from Iranian territory on a private villa in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. The villa belongs to Baz Karim Barazanji, a Kurdish oil and gas magnate closely associted with the KDP. Tehran announced its full responsibility and accused Mr. Barazanji and, by implication, the KDP, of cooperating with Israel against Iran in intelligence and sabotage operations. The KDP did not budge an inch. On March 28 a mob of pro-Iranian militiamen torched the KDP Baghdad office. The police did not intervene. As a sign of no confidence in Baghdad’s government, the KDP decided to demolish what was left of its office and suspend all its activities in the Iraqi capital indefinitely. And yet they still refused to change sides in parliament. In early May, therefore, Iran sent an additional message when a militia fired six rockets at the Kawergosk refinery near Erbil, which is owned by Mr. Barazanji’s KAR Group. In June, pro-Iranian militias launched two more multi-rocket attacks on Kurdish gas installations owned by the same group. Still, the KDP remained staunchly committed to Mr. Sadr’s anti-Iranian parliamentary coalition. The attacks continued on June 22, 24 and 25, with rockets striking the Khor Mor natural gas field, the largest in Iraqi Kurdistan. The site is key to the KDP’s plans to export gas to Europe and Turkey. No group has claimed responsibility.

What seems to have helped them keep their steady course so impressively was their Turkish backing. While the PUK, whose territory borders Iran, is close to Iran, the KDP, whose territory borders Turkey, fears Iran and has economic and security ties with Turkey. Despite the outside appearance of friendship, Turkey and Iran are at odds over a host of issues. One is Turkey’s impending replacement of Iranian natural gas with Kurdish. Other tensions are over disputed water resources in an era of scarcity, Iranian support for anti-Turkish Kurds in northern Iraq and northern Syria, Afghan refugees that Iran is pushing into Turkey and more. Turkey will be happy to see the Iranian influence in Iraq diminish, and therefore it is apparently stiffening the back of the KDP. Either way, the KDP proved too tough a nut for Iran to crack.

After some eight months of efforts, as Mr. Sadr still refused to join forces with pro-Iranian Shia parties, Iran made its next move, and it worked miracles. Suddenly, on June 12, Mr. Sadr announced that he was withdrawing from the political process and ordered all his 73 followers elected to the parliament to resign.

Under Iraq’s constitution, even such a mass exodus does not automatically trigger new elections. The 73 seats won by Mr. Sadr’s forces are to be apportioned to the next highest vote-getters in their respective electoral zones. On June 23, 64 replacement candidates were sworn in as members of parliament while nine seats remained vacant.

Shia lawmaker Ahmed Rubaie, whose party is part of an Iran-backed bloc, said that his coalition is now the main force in the 329-seat parliament. “Following the Sadr lawmakers’ resignation, we can confirm that we are the largest bloc in parliament with around 130 seats after the swearing-in of the new lawmakers,” Mr. Rubaie told reporters. By early July, there is still some confusion regarding the number of pro-Iranian MPs. But even following the resignation of Mr. Sadr’s 73 MPs, the pro-Iranian coalition has not reached yet the magic number of 165 MPs needed for a majority, let alone the 218 needed for a quorum. Iran and its supporters are therefore concentrating now on the independents.

Iraq, Iran, politics
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi (L) meets Iraq’s Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani during his official visit in Erbil, Iraq on March 14, 2022. © Getty Images

Why did Mr. Sadr resign?

What moved Mr. Sadr to make such a dramatically brave or desperate or cowardly step?

Mr. Sadr is known for being tough, but also unstable and unpredictable. However, his breathtaking achievement in the elections and his remarkable negotiating success, having managed to create a multiethnic parliamentary majority, combined with his huge grassroots support among the poor Shia and his considerable militia power, turned him into the most successful and powerful politician in Iraq by far.

There are three rational explanations.

One is that he regarded the political crisis to be insoluble and preferred Iranian domination and exploitation over chaos.

Another explanation is that he wants chaos. He may believe that his dramatic step will either encourage others to resign and force new elections or that the young Shia generation will protest again. The impression is that the demonstrators are a spent force, and even their representatives in parliaments are disunited and disoriented. Yet, if Mr. Sadr orders his grassroots supports to demonstrate, this may reignite the mass protests.

A third and most likely explanation is fear. On July 6, 2020, a leading Iraqi security researcher and Prime Minister Kadhimi’s close friend, Hisham al-Hashimi, was fatally shot outside his house in Baghdad. On November 7, 2021, three explosive-laden drones were launched, apparently by a pro-Iranian militia, targeting the prime minister’s home. The house was seriously damaged, and a few of the prime minister’s guards were injured. Mr. Sadr could expect the same.

Collective distraction

By early July, the Iraqi parliament and political system were unable to agree on anything, except for the topic that almost all 40 million Iraqis care about the least: Israel. On May 26, the 250 Iraqi parliamentarians who showed up adopted unanimously a law proposed by Mr. Sadr. Stressed by the insinuations that his allies, the KDP, are Israeli agents, he proposed to “criminalize the normalization of ties with the Zionist regime” on the penalty of death or life imprisonment. Israel was not even mentioned by name.

In 1969, the dictatorial Baath regime enacted such a one-paragraph law. This time the democratic parliament of Iraq composed three pages with minute details. The law imposes a “prohibition on establishing diplomatic, political, military, economic, cultural or any form of ties” with Israel. “Normalization” is defined as “any act that would achieve any form of engagement, whether directly or indirectly, with the aim of establishing relations with the Zionist entity.’’

Through its loyal militias, Iran will turn elections in Iraq into a nightmare of murder, kidnapping, threats and bribery.

Tehran congratulated the Iraqi people for this patriotic act. The Sunnis were in support, but most of the KDP representatives were absent. In an era in which Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco are at peace with Israel and even Sudan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are considering improved relations, it seems that the deeply conflicted and dysfunctional Iraqi political system is returning to Saddam Hussein’s trick. Hussein managed to distract the Iraqis from the ills of his brutal dictatorship by drowning them in a torrent of hate toward Israel. This way he cleverly manipulated the Arab and Islamic identities of the Iraqis to deflect criticism. Rather than pulling their country out of its endemic corruption and subservience to Iran’s economic and strategic interests, the Iraqi politicians are again trying to unite the nation against an imaginary dragon. This time, however, they are doing it under the aegis of Hussein’s sworn nemeses, the Iranian ayatollahs.


What role Mr. Sadr will now play is unclear. He still commands his own militia, and his movement will likely remain a strong force in Iraqi society. If parliament is in pro-Iranian hands, there will be no new elections and Mr. Sadr will be marginalized for a while.

The most likely scenario is that Iran will succeed in cobbling together a pro-Iranian majority coalition, with the additional number of lawmakers required for the two-thirds quorum. If they get a majority but not a quorum, a legal device will be found to circumvent the quorum rule. A new president will be elected. It may be the incumbent, the gifted Kurdish PUK-affiliated Barham Salih, who will appoint a prime minister of Iran’s choosing. It may even be the caretaker incumbent Mr. Kadhimi. Having no party of his own, Mr. Kadhimi will be even more of a captive prime minister than he is now. However reluctantly, his government will be pro-Iranian. Iraq will sink deeper into official corruption and into the Iranian quicksand. Mr. Sadr’s revenge will be that without new elections any government will have a mark of illegitimacy, but Tehran can live with that.

A less probable but still conceivable scenario is new elections. For many reasons, this is an enormously complicated process. However, if no forces are able to assemble the required majority and quorum, an extended deadlock will send the Iraqis back to the ballots. If the new campaign is democratic, and if Mr. Sadr runs again, it will further weaken Iran’s position. From 42 percent of voters who showed up last October, participation will rise among an anti-Iranian electorate.

Iraq is enormously important to Iran as a strategic and economic asset. In October 2021, Iran’s supporters mainly failed to do better in the elections because Iran’s strongman IRGC Quds Force Commander General Qasem Suleimani, had been assassinated by the United States.

In the next elections, Iran will make every conceivable effort to make sure that its supporters win. Therefore, without massive protection from the United Nations as well as Arab and Western nations, Iraqi elections will never be democratic again. Through its loyal militias, Iran will turn elections in Iraq into a nightmare of murder, kidnapping, threats and bribery. With no outside democratic support, this will be a battle between courage and terror. Unfortunately, in Iraq, terror wins every time. This is the lesson from 35 years of Baath rule.

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Breaking away from Iran (Part 1): Lebanon

While Lebanese voters denied Iran-backed Hezbollah and its allies a majority in the May 15 parliamentary election, the opposition could not muster enough strength or seats to take control of the government.

Lebanon, Hezbollah, Iran
A woman holds a photo of Hassan Nasrallah, secretary-general of Hezbollah, two days before the May 15, 2022, election in which voters denied the Iranian-backed political party and its allies a majority of seats in the 128-seat Lebanese parliament. © Getty Images

In a nutshell

  • Hezbollah’s anti-Western, anti-Israel agenda runs roughshod over Lebanon
  • Voters, discontent over corruption and a collapsing economy, want change
  • Fragmented power among sectarian rivals perpetuates the status quo

Since the beginning of the 21st century, Iran has exploited elections in Iraq and Lebanon to control their parliaments and, with support from pro-Iranian Shia Muslim militias, this has enabled Tehran’s theocratic rulers to drive politics in both nations.

Yet Iran’s allies in these countries failed to gain majorities in the two most recent parliamentary elections, threatening Tehran’s hegemony in Baghdad and Beirut.

The election in Iraq took place in October 2021. The vote in Lebanon, which featured a low 41 percent voter turnout, happened in May 2022. [The situation in Iraq will be examined in Part 2 of this series.]

The key question coming out of the inconclusive contests is whether Iranian influence is weakened enough to allow Iraq and Lebanon to become more independent so that both countries can embark on essential reforms to build their democracies and improve their faltering economies.

No majority in the 128-seat parliament

In Lebanon’s May 15 general elections, Hezbollah, Iran’s ally as well as the de facto Shia Muslim ruling party, managed to retain its parliamentary representation, winning 13 out of 128 seats. Amal, its sister Shia movement, retained 15 out of its previous 17 seats. Predictions of mass voter desertion from the Shia camp, because of the disintegration of Lebanon, proved greatly exaggerated. Compared with the 2018 elections, the total number of Shia voters did decrease. Yet about half a million of them showed up and stuck with their sect bosses, prompting their leader, Hassan Nasrallah, to declare victory.

However, Mr. Nasrallah’s parliamentary coalition of Shias, Christians, Druze and Sunni Muslims lost its 71-seat majority. Its 62 seats are only three mandates shy of the majority needed to form a government. The Hezbollah secretary-general had to admit: “Unlike the situation in parliament in 2018, no political group can claim a majority.”

The opposition camp only counts 61 members of parliament, and their political bloc remains unstable. In particular, the large Druze Progressive Socialist Party under Walid Jumblatt and his son Taymour, with eight seats, changed sides a few times and may do it again. Their latest flip-flop took place on May 31, when they supported Hezbollah in electing Amal’s leader, Nabih Berri, to be the parliament’s speaker for the seventh time. They stopped there, though, short of supporting Hezbollah’s candidates for the premiership and government.

The results are still surprising because many of those who participated in protests launched in 2019 against corruption and Iranian influence stayed home, leaving them with not enough seats in parliament to form an anti-Hezbollah, anti-Iranian government.

Lebanon, Hezbollah, Iran
A man walks through burning tires blocking a main highway in Beirut, Lebanon, during a protest on Nov. 29, 2021, against dire economic conditions after the Lebanese pound traded at 25,000 against the dollar for the first time since 2019, when demonstrators protested against a corrupt ruling class in the country and against Hezbollah. © Getty Images

Coalition possibilities

Still, it is possible to cobble together a parliamentary majority because of major shifts in voting patterns. One change is the steep decline of Christian voters’ support for the pro-Hezbollah President Michel Aoun, whose Free Patriotic Movement declined from 29 to 18 seats. At the same time, his anti-Hezbollah Christian rivals, the Lebanese Forces and Kataeb Party, grew stronger – from 18 to 26 seats. The anti-Hezbollah Druze Progressive Socialists lost a seat – from nine to eight.

In other words, while most Shias remained loyal to their old parties, the Christians deserted the pro-Hezbollah party in droves.

Where are the Sunnis? There is not enough information to provide an answer. Following Sunni leader Saad Hariri’s withdrawal from the campaign, conceivably because of threats to his life (his father was assassinated by Hezbollah affiliates), his Future Movement dropped from 20 to seven seats. Some of the party’s Sunni supporters stayed home while others voted for independents and the liberal Civil Society list candidates. The popularity of Civil Society grew after the 2019 anti-corruption and anti-Hezbollah protests.

Hezbollah and Iran recognize that, for the first time in 20 years, there is a real threat to their hegemony.

Lebanon’s devastating economic collapse and the deadly Beirut port explosion of 2020 propelled Civil Society to a breakthrough, rising from a lone seat to 13 representatives. Independents who do not support Hezbollah, too, went from six to 15 seats, while pro-Hezbollah independents declined from 15 to eight seats. Independents and Civil Society are a mix of Muslims – both Sunni and Shia –  and Christians. The penetration of such a nonsectarian, patriotic Lebanese force into parliament is a new and promising phenomenon.

Is a peaceful Hezbollah and Israel possible?

But as of July 2022, there is no parliamentary majority for either side as many MPs remain undecided. Hezbollah and Iran are hard at work trying to buy or threaten them to gain support. Yet they recognize that, for the first time in 20 years, there is a real threat to their hegemony. Their nightmare is a new government that denies them the right to bear arms. Presently they are the only militia allowed the privilege because they claim to represent the anti-Israeli “muqawama,” or resistance.

However, most Lebanese no longer believe that Israel poses a threat. In fact, it is widely known that the guarantee for a peaceful Israel is a peaceful Hezbollah. Furthermore, with diplomatic help from the United States, Israel has been trying during the last decade to lure Lebanon into negotiations to end border disputes in the Mediterranean Sea, so that both can explore there for natural gas. Many believe the negotiations have gone nowhere because of Hezbollah’s objections.

Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habibsaid on July 4 that any interference in US-mediated talks to demarcate its maritime border with enemy state Israel is “unacceptable,” according to a Voice of America report. His comments came after Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement launched three unarmed reconnaissance drones Saturday towards the offshore Karish gas field and Israel said it shot them down.

Most Lebanese no longer believe that Israel poses a threat.

Hezbollah also fears losing its state within a state privileges. These are, for example, the organization’s unregulated communication systems and financial institutions, as well as unofficial private border crossings that undermine state sovereignty. Hezbollah’s veto power also may end over legal investigations into responsibility for the 2020 Beirut port explosion that killed nearly 200 people.

Hezbollah’s leaders, with Iran’s support, are therefore already resorting to threats. Its most promising pressure point is the Israeli boogeyman. Any attempt to limit, let alone eliminate Hezbollah’s privileges is immediately presented as high treason in Israel’s service. Thus, for example, following the announcement of the election results, Muhammad Raad, head of the party’s parliamentary bloc, announced: “We have accepted you as opponents in parliament, but we cannot accept you as shields for the Israelis, and those standing behind the Israelis.”

Mr. Raad threatened a renewed civil war if the opposition moves forward with demands to disarm Hezbollah. “Do not be the fuel of a civil war toward which the Israelis will lead you,” he said.


Lebanon is in economic freefall and needs to urgently adopt extensive banking and other reforms to revive a desperate economy and ensure external financing from the International Monetary Fund and others. By July 2022, though, no new government was seen on the horizon. Samir Geagea, leader of the largest Christian party, is adamant that his camp will oppose a national unity government with Hezbollah.

A very likely scenario is months of paralysis until October when parliament will elect a new president as Mr. Aoun’s six-year term comes to an end.

Under the 1943 Lebanese National Pact, the president is Maronite Christian, the prime minister is a Sunni Muslim, and the speaker of the parliament is a Shia Muslim. (Currently, Muslims make up nearly two-thirds of Lebanon’s population, while Christians number about a third.)

The question is whether President Aoun, who is pro-Hezbollah, will remain in office or Mr. Geagea’s preferred candidate will be selected. The whole power structure will be tilted in favor of the winning camp.

As for the prime minister, Mr. Aoun reappointed pro-Hezbollah Najib Mikati, the three-time prime minister relegated to caretaker status after the election. But Mr. Mikati needs to be confirmed by parliament and thus far the opposition (including the Druze party) is unwilling to join his national unity government.

In the meantime, both camps are trying to convince the undecided to join them. When push comes to shove, Hezbollah and Iran have an advantage: they have money, guns and experience in assassinating political opponents and getting away with it. The weakest link in the opposition camp is the Druze Progressive Socialist Party. If Hezbollah wins, Lebanon will continue its freefall, but just how far down it will go remains to be seen.

If Hezbollah and its opposition both fail, Lebanon will go to new elections. More of the electorate who, out of despair, stayed home in May will vote in the next contest, and they are not Hezbollah supporters. This means that to avoid new elections, Hezbollah will be ready for some concessions.

Although Hezbollah has a better chance to cobble together a parliamentary majority and a government, the elections’ results still provide the anti-Hezbollah parties with a fighting chance. If they manage to create a majority government, and if they decide to disarm Hezbollah, they will immediately face a Hezbollah coup. Iranian-controlled Shia militias may help Hezbollah from across the Syrian border. The national military will stay out. Without military help from the United Nations or from anti-Iranian Arab states like Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, the new government will be overwhelmed in a few hours. Lebanon will then sink into the status of a full-fledged Iranian colony.

There are less-violent scenarios. One is that the anti-Hezbollah parties agree to continue the tradition of a national unity government. In such a government, however, they will be powerless to introduce any changes. Hezbollah and its supporters are certain to have at least one-third of the cabinet ministries and, according to the present practice, one-third of the ministers can veto any decision.

Finally, the opposition could manage to create a Hezbollah-free government, with a less ambitious agenda. They might agree that, in exchange for allowing Hezbollah to keep all its privileges, it will not go guns blazing. In such a case, minimal banking reforms that the International Monetary Fund and others are demanding before they bail out Lebanon may be introduced, but the political and social reforms will never happen. The reasons are simple: any government that cannot control the whole country, or even the capital, cannot impose any radical changes. Also, even within the anti-Hezbollah camp, the large Christian and Druze parties still have vested interests in the old political and economic system.


The May 2022 democratic elections did not provide the opposition to Hezbollah with sufficient power to turn the table on the ruling party and its militia. Yet, this may be the first step. A quick victory is not on the cards. Either paralysis or Hezbollah’s return to control the government is likely. And yet the elections showed that at least half the Lebanese nation, and most likely a majority, reject Hezbollah’s domination.   

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If this at all true, there are two things here that are telling and where the country is headed for the foreseeable future, and it ain't good at all. 


First: If its true that Al-Sadr quit on the country after he said many times that he was in it for the people and not himself, is shameful and shows what a bull-shitter he is. 


Second: I believe that Iran still has a stronghold on the country and their leading man is Maliki. If Maliki gets back in power, which appears to be more and more attainable, the country is doomed and you can kiss the RI/RV goodbye. 


What a shame, everytime they take a step forward, the corrupt government stops it and they take 3 steps back. How many times have we seen this over the years and no guru is going to change that! 

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Well now: this is a most revealing article. We've suspected this for some time (since Sadr's cut & run or the myriad of reasons given ) and very interesting it's seeing the light of day in print.

Should leave no doubt whatsoever that Iran is in charge of Iraq: moreover, I should not expect to see a RV in my lifetime. Hope I'm wrong.

Does suggest if assassination was at the heart of Sadr's resignation did he feel ( IMHO ) he could do more for Iraq outside than continuing on trying to form a government in the midst of ongoing chaos...or was he a coward hiding behind 10 excuses.

As the events unfold I'm very interested in seeing what part he may continue to play. Iran has a stranglehold on Iraq. For the foreseeable future it looks like Iraq's fortunes are at the behest of Iran. Very sad & tragic for the people of Iraq.

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I hate to say it, but someone (??who??) needs to take out the Iranian leadership. The people will rise up again and hopefully install a more friendly government. I believe even their military is tired of the opression. I have Iranian friends who think this is possible if they can remove the militant regime leadership. They want Iran to be free.:salute:

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Everyone Needs to read this report. It is long explains in detail whats going on In Iraq & Sadr you will understand whats the real issuues why we my not see an RV/RI




                                                             Politics July 5 2022

                                                 Breaking away from Iran (Part 2)  iraq

                                                                    Amatzia  Baram           


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8 minutes ago, edbeach said:

Everyone Needs to read this report. It is long explains in detail whats going on In Iraq & Sadr you will understand whats the real issuues why we my not see an RV/RI




                                                             Politics July 5 2022

                                                 Breaking away from Iran (Part 2)  iraq

                                                                    Amatzia  Baram           


I've read it all, ain't good is it.

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No but it explains what has been going on & what could happen. The report gives a better understanding of Iraq rather than what the so called guru's are saying every week of painting rosy pictures that are not true. Lets hope Maliki or his relatives don't become the Prime Minister again 

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8 hours ago, ronscarpa said:

I hate to say it, but someone (??who??) needs to take out the Iranian leadership. The people will rise up again and hopefully install a more friendly government. I believe even their military is tired of the opression. I have Iranian friends who think this is possible if they can remove the militant regime leadership. They want Iran to be free.:salute:

Agree 💯.

One key to peace and stability in the ME is eradicating terrorism—militarily and politically. Iran is the world’s #1 sponsor of terrorism and this article clearly reminds us of Iran’s meddling and control in countries around it.


The axis of evil in the 21st century are China, Russia and Iran. (N Korea is also extreme, but relatively weak).  

We need to face them at some point, but this administration is actually aligning with Iran and it’s disgusting! We are tied with China and Russia more than we’d like to admit… example: LeBron James 🤨

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