Iraq between the jaws of Iranian and Israeli ambitions

ByMohammed Alsulami

Media recently reported claims of an Israeli plan to settle Iraq to achieve the great Israeli dream of regional colonization. According to these unsubstantiated reports, the plan relies on moving Kurdish Jews from Israel to the provinces of Mosul and Nineveh in northern Iraq, under the pretext of conducting religious missions and visiting ancient Jewish shrines. Similar unsourced reports also claim that since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, Kurdish Jews have been buying land in the region, which they reportedly consider a historic Jewish property. There is allegedly particular interest from Israeli officials in the tombs of the revered prophets Younis and Daniel, amongst others, which are reportedly viewed by Tel Aviv as being parts of Israel like Jerusalem and the West Bank, which are known to hardcore Zionists as Judea and Samaria.
In addition, Israeli Mossad is accused of using undercover agents and mercenaries to carry out attacks in Mosul, Erbil and Hamdania which the reports say are then blamed on al-Qaeda in order to displace the local peoples by force and ethnically cleanse the people there by strength and evacuate the region that Israel is planning to conquer with a view to resettling Kurdish Jews instead of indigenous Sunni Arabs. This conspiracy, which is allegedly sponsored by leading Western countries, strongly resembles the process of uprooting Palestinians during the British Mandate and the establishment of the Jewish state.
That is a brief summary of Israel’s ambitions in Iraq, but would Israel be alone in coveting Iraqi territory and using the current turmoil to achieve its objectives? It seems not, with Iran’s regime ardently pursuing its regional goal to undermine Iraqi unity and independence. Even if we disregard the historical rivalry between Baghdad and Tehran, the favorite Khomeinist slogan, “The road to Jerusalem passes through Karbala”, and the eight-year Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), and move to analyzing the so-called “moderate government” of Iran, headed by Hassan Rouhani, we will find plenty of statements by Iranian regime officials affirming Persian nationalist ambitions in the Arab land of Iraq. For example, General Yahia Rahim Safavi, the military affairs adviser to Khamenei, issued a statement in 2014 in which he said, “The actual borders of Iran end at the shores of the Mediterranean across southern Lebanon; our borders do not stop at Shalmache on the borders with Iraq but extend to the south of Lebanon, and this is the third time [in history] that our influence has extended to the Mediterranean coast.” [Resalat newspaper, 02/08/2014].
The Iranian military incursion of more than 40 kilometers in Iraq should not be ignored or dismissed as part of the Iranian regime’s supposed battle against ISIL in the country, despite the so-called ‘Islamic Republic’s’ claims that it is fighting the so-called ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq in order to prevent any efforts by ISIL to approach the Iranian-Iraqi border, as though the terrorist organization posed any threat to Iran’s security! In fact, for Iran, ISIL is just another useful tool providing a pretext to tighten its grip on the state. The events of roughly a year ago, when thousands of Iranians casually violated the Iraqi borders without even acknowledging the border crossing points or paying any attention to fully uniformed Iraqi troops stationed there is surely a gross insult to the independence and sovereignty of Iraq, treating it as though it had already become an Iranian province. That may be repeated in the next few weeks during the so-called ‘forty days of Hussein’, a sacred period in the Shiite calendar.
Most dangerous and revealing of all concerning Iran’s stance on Iraq is the statement from Hassan Rouhani’s close advisor Ali Yonsei who said in a statement on March 8, 2015, “Iran today has become an empire as it was throughout history, and Baghdad is the capital of this, our center of civilization, culture and identity, today as in the past.” These words offer strong confirmation that Iran does not recognize the independence or sovereignty of Iraq, which – for the regime – is simply a part of the ancient Persian Empire in the region, which Iran is now reoccupying. Iran’s actions on the ground are consistent with its officials’ statements and show the regime’s real objectives towards Iraq. The formation of sectarian militias, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ support, the efforts to change the demographic and sectarian balance in many cities and provinces, the torture, murder and mass displacement of Sunnis, with millions forced to flee for their lives, are very clear indicators of Iran’s goals and ambitions.
In fact, Iraq currently faces severe and exceptional circumstances due to the ethnic and sectarian divisions, which Iran is working to feed, pouring more oil on an already out-of-control fire. Perhaps the last stages of Tehran’s sectarian mobilization are the creation of the so-called Shiite Liberation Army. Although Iraqi society had, until recently in the country’s history, largely managed to avoid sectarian conflict, the Iranian regime has succeeded – with the help of individuals and groups in Iraq – to ignite sectarianism and hatred. Iraq now faces a real danger of losing its territorial integrity and independence completely, being besieged on two sides, by both Israeli and Iranian ambition. Both share a deep hostility towards Arab lands and view historical empires as justifying their current expansionist occupation projects and efforts to attain hegemony in the Arab region, whether in the name of Judaism or Shiism. Just as Tehran yearns to rebuild the Sasanian Empire as a sectarian ‘Islamic Nation,’ so Tel Aviv dreams of a ‘Greater Israel’ stretching from the Nile in the west to the Euphrates in the east.
Perhaps the only way in which Iraq can be saved lies in a general awakening and a realization of the very real and deadly dangers currently facing the country and a concerted effort to restore it to the control of the Iraqi people as part of the Arab world and to thwart the foreign powers’ ambitions. Ultimately, Iraq is strong in the context of a unified Arab region and weak without that. If this cannot be achieved, then Iraq will be broken up by expansionist projects, whether these are achieved through the pretext of using nationalist, theocratic or other doctrines. The final word must rest with the Iraqi people or at least those who survive these foreign efforts to implant strange doctrines and ideologies. May God protect Iraq and the Iraqis!

Translated Article: Watan Daily

Opinions in this article reflect the writer’s point of view, not necessarily the view of The Arabain GCIS

Mohammed Alsulami
Mohammed Alsulami
Founder and President of Rasanah