People often express bemusement to me about why Iran behaves the way it does: The embroilment in terrorism and militancy, past attempts to build a nuclear bomb, the way it treats its own people, and so on.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi visited Tehran along with a political and economic delegation at the weekend. He had been invited by Hassan Rouhani when he visited Iraq last month for the first time since becoming the Iranian president.
US forces still have not departed from eastern Syria, yet Tehran is already rushing to fill the void. Iranian agents have been offering cash, food, ID cards, public services and free education to war-weary Syrians, particularly in localities near the Iraq-Syria border like Al-Bukamal.
It is bitterly ironic that a leadership rooting its legitimacy in quasi-religious principles governs one of the most corrupt nations in the world, deliberately infecting the entire Middle East with its criminality.
Iran at 40 years old doesn’t have much to celebrate. Last week’s anniversary was a reminder of four decades of regional and global terrorism, and four decades of terrorism against long-suffering citizens whose birthright wealth is corruptly devoured and squandered on overseas aggression.
In his 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment, US Director of National intelligence Dan Coats came to the blunt conclusion that: “In Iraq, Iran-supported Popular Mobilization Committee-affiliated Shiite militias remain the primary threat to US personnel.”
Perhaps the most succinct expression of Donald Trump’s attitude to Iran’s regional meddling came during a recent Cabinet meeting, when the US President dismissively told his foreign policy team that Iran’s leaders could “do what they want” in Syria.
I hear cynics in Cairo and across the Arab world claiming that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Egypt speech was no more than a cheap attempt to please his boss by systematically attacking the central tenets of Barack Obama’s Middle East policies.
I made every effort to write an optimistic and inspiring article looking forward to 2019. However, with a dozen drafts scrunched up in the waste paper bin, I’m sorry to acknowledge that the global prospects for 2019 look pretty frightening.
“We cannot protect our interests… without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies.” This was the damning indictment with which US Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned last week, immediately after learning of President Donald Trump’s plan to withdraw militarily from Syria.
A federal trial in the US is studying evidence that the Islamic Republic of Iran was responsible for hundreds of bombings that killed and maimed more than 1,000 US troops stationed in Iraq between 2003 and 2011. The $10 billion lawsuit could mean the plaintiffs becoming eligible for financial compensation from a fund for victims of state-sponsored terrorism.
For those familiar with Iraqi militant Qais Al-Khazali’s long, bombastic speeches and TV appearances, the deluge of information he unloaded upon American interrogators will be of little surprise. Transcripts of these 2007 testimonies were published in copious detail last week, with Al-Khazali revealing all about his relationship with the Quds Force’s Qassem Soleimani, weapons smuggling from Iran, and attacks against American troops. These documents show how Al-Khazali spent hours plotting with his US captors about how to undermine his former patron, Muqtada Al-Sadr. Al-Khazali’s paramilitary colleagues must, meanwhile, be furious at his detailed exposure of their complicity in Tehran-sponsored terrorism.