The Islamic Republic of Iran has gradually been sinking by virtue of the international rivalry inflicting clashes in the Middle East. Where the global condemnation has usually been diplomatic, the country recently became a big-time foe to the civilians in Iraq.
Protesters in Iraq have been taking up the roads in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, defaming the banners of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and demonstrating their rage against the Iraqi government. “Free, free Iraq,” they shout, “Iran get out, get out.”
On Sunday, the Baghdad protesters attacked the Iranian Consulate in the holy city of Karbala, by throwing firebombs. They were heard chanting ‘The people want the fall of the regime’, which is one of the major slogans from the 2011 Arab Spring. The demonstrations, however, were dispersed by the security forces, who killed at least three protesters and wounded around 20.
The Iraqis resumed the protests on October 25, blocking roads and ports and clashing with security forces leading to the Green Zone, the seat of power, where the American occupants had sneaked in. Since the protests resumed, more than 110 people have been killed.
The largest mass uprisings have erupted years after the Iraqis had vent their outrage against the US-led invasion. This time, civilians are unveiling their burning animosity against Iran’s influence in Iraq, but are majorly against Iraq’s own political leaders and are fueled by economic grievances. Consequently, the protests are targeting Shiite political parties, and militias with close ties to Tehran. Besides, similar anti-government demonstrations are underway in Lebanon, as well.
Is It Really Iran or the US Again?
Over the last decade, Iran has emerged as a culprit behind the rising instability in the Middle East, attempting to expand its footprint in the region. However, the Islamic Republican is being hit from all directions, despite the rising political influence of their paramilitary groups. On one hand, from the international powers like the United States, and from the civilians in Iraq and Lebanon, on the other.
These grievances have a long history, where Iran-backed militias have been dominating the political landscape of both Iraq and Lebanon. While Tehran backed Shiite parties and militias known as the ‘Popular Mobilization Forces’ to gain power in Iraq, have been swaying Lebanon’s ruling elite and government through Hezbollah militant group.
However, the authorities in Lebanon have reflected a different response, calling for a quick formation of a new government following Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s resignation last week. They have alleged that the US and other Western powers are manipulating the civilians to drag these Middle Eastern countries into civil war and induce instability in the region.
The Middle East, on which the world’s economy depends for oil and natural gas, is gradually being impaired by internal injuries from past few decades. The fugitive behind rising instability of the region remains the United States, which in the name of power has been working in the background of the destruction unfolding.
Washington used the mutual rival Iran to win the confidence of dominant nations like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and consequently targeted the comparatively inferior nations. The result: undue devastation in countries like Yemen, Syria and Iraq, because of the proxy warfare.
The United States’ interest of gaining global dominance, along with Saudi and Iran’s quest to become Middle East’s hegemon, is the overall summary behind the collapse-stories of these Gulf nations. Even in the ongoing demonstrations in Iraq, the Trump administration expressed support for the protests.
The rising frustrations among the civilians – believed to be a result of Iran’s political manipulations – appear to be US-inflicted influence for a large part. As Lebanon has halted the uprisings with a decision for a new government, will Iraq’s violence find an end?