Iran’s Plan to Destabilize Iraq

Amb. Marc Ginsberg
For those who hoped the Iran nuclear agreement would usher in a new era of Iranian moderation in the Middle East, as we say in Brooklyn: “fgetahboutit.” Actually, every move Iran has taken in the Middle East suggests otherwise.

As Henry Kissinger once said, Iran needs to decide whether it is “a nation or a cause.” The Ayatollah Khamenei stubbornly prefers Iran remain a “cause.”

The record of meddlesome, terror-laden interference throughout the Middle East by Tehran is growing longer by the day. The oppressive military dictatorship may be fronted by a so-called “moderate” President Rouhani, but Iran is undeniably under the control of the Revolutionary Guards and their political hacks within the Ayatollah Khamenei’s clerical politburo. As it stubbornly clings to the cause of belligerence and revolution the regime has been resuscitated and emboldened by a nuclear agreement that has imposed nary a speed bump on its road to fulfilling its regional ambitions.

Cases in point: the incendiary and venomous anti-Israel/anti-Semitic rhetoric emanating from the highest reaches of the regime have become more dangerous and more provocative than ever. The terror-funding money laundered cash flowing into Hezbollah and Hamas coffers has accelerated, fueled in part, from U.S. and European unfrozen asset transfers and sanctions relief. Elie Weisel’s passing was met with another Holocaust-denying tirade from several high level hardliners. The number of Iranians hanging from the gallows under President Rouhani has reached tallies higher than under his predecessor: the notorious Ahmadinejad. Oppression has escalated against average Iranians as the regime stomps hard on any effort to leverage assets relief for fear of breathing new life into Iran’s suppressed democratic movement.

In the Middle East, Iran is waging a proxy war in Yemen against the U.S. and Saudi-backed government. Its provocative and destabilizing ballistic missile tests — intended to directly threaten Israel and our Sunni Arab allies — are deemed by the UN to be in violation of existing Security Council resolutions. And let us not forget, the “atomic ayatollahs” have never ever given up on their ambition to build a bomb; the nuclear agreement merely postpones its capacity for doing so for ten years, and will have all arms sanctions lifted against it in about 7 years.

Ground zero on Iran’s revolutionary menu is Syria and Iraq. It is the Ayatollah’s “front line” against all of the real and imagined foes of the regime. The Revolutionary Guard is massively deployed inside Syria defending fellow Shiite Bashar al Assad, and Iranian-backed Shiite militias are deployed in ISIS battle zones in northern Iraq. If only those deployments were for the cause of peace and stability in the Middle East. They are not. On the contrary, those deployments are part and parcel of Iranian designs to prevent the emergence of a stable Iraq and to prevent a restoration of a durable UN-sponsored cease-fire in Syria.

The Iranian government’s propaganda arm is running at warp speed warning Iranians that should Assad’s regime fall ISIS will soon be on Tehran’s doorstep. The Farsi-language media is relentlessly pounding this nonsense into every crevice of Iranian society. Iran, in other words, is figuratively and literally getting away with murder in both Iraq and Syria “in defense of Iran.”

The regime’s apologists demand patience and excoriate those who question any effort to hold Iran accountable for these actions. Soon the regime, they argue, will inevitably bend to the winds of globalization and confront the exigencies required of a “proper” nation state. After all, Boeing just signed a major deal with Iran. More such deals will surely follow. Isn’t that evidence, they assert, that the Ayatollah’s iron grip will weaken under the weight of western investment.

Hope springs eternal.

A new, more moderate regime, the Iranian amen choir chant, will surely emerge. Just give it time. The great Iranian gamble is buttressed by U.S. assurances that it is doing everything possible to challenge Iran’s expansionism. Not true! What are we to make then of Secretary of State’s recent comments that Iran’s presence in Iraq to be “helpful” to American attempts to beat back the threat of ISIS, given their common enemy?

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