May 26, 2017

Iran and Iraq’s Hidden Catastrophe

Dr. Majid Sadeghpour
Global Politician - Silently yet systematically, Iraq's nationalist, secular, and democratic
voices are falling silent. Their lives taken and their blood shed in the troubled country's
treacherous struggle for democracy and sovereignty. The killers are shadowy, their traces
ultimately pointing the prudent observer to the neighboring country to the east where
extremist leaders are believed to be the primary instigators of instability in Iraq.
Amidst the incredibly destructive influence from Iranian regime and the violence it
perpetuates, Iraq still brandishes a vibrant, tolerant, and secular population. Sadly, and
without much international attention these voices are being brutally and methodically
silenced. Iraq is thus losing its best and brightest human assets at an alarming rate.
In mid October, Abdul-Rahim Nasrallah, the leader of the National Justice and Progress
Party (NJPP) and head of the recently established secular satellite channel (Shaabiya) was
gunned down in Baghdad along with 10 of his aides. Gunmen wearing police uniforms
reportedly carried out the killings (Reuters - Oct 12th, 06). The NJPP is a secular party
which has been very vocal against Iranian meddling in Iraq (Iran Targets Iraqi
Nationalists-Iran Focus. Oct 13, 06).
Secular religious leaders have not been immune from the campaign of terror, highlighting
the fact that these murders are neither spontaneous nor miscalculated. Ayatollah
Mohammad Moussawi Qasemi, secretary general of the Islamic Unity Party in Iraq and a
prominent Shiite leader was killed in a well coordinated attack by Iranian-linked agents
using a remote-controlled explosive device. Ayatollah Moussawi Qasemi vehemently
opposed Iran's influence in southern Iraq (Middle East Time. Oct 19, 06).
Of note, his Islamic Unity Party in Iraq had issued a statement on August 25th of this
year noting that, "the Iranian regime's meddling in Iraq is taking place in the most
disgusting manner by its proxy militias, taking a heavy toll from the people of Iraq."
(Excerpts from Ayatollah Qasemi's Letter to the Multinational Forces in Iraq.)
In yet another example, also in October, gunmen in police uniforms killed the brother of
Iraqi Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi in northern Baghdad. Amer al-Hashemi, a
Major General in the Iraqi army, was at home in Sulaikh when gunmen stormed into the
house and killed him, news agencies reported. Hashemi's sister, Meysoun, and another
brother, Mahmoud, had been killed by gunmen earlier this year. Mr. al-Hashemi's Iraqi
Iran and Iraq's
Hidden Catastrophe
Islamic Party, the largest in the main Sunni political bloc in parliament, has accused
Tehran of arming outlawed Shiite militias.
On September 30, the governor of the northern town of Soleiman-bak, Mohammad
Qassem Ahmad al-Bayati was killed by unknown assailants. Also in September, the
spokesman for the Maram alliance, Muhammad Shihab al-Dulaymi, was gunned down in
Baghdad. The alliance is made up of some 42 mainly Sunni and secular political entities
including the Iraqi Accord Front, the Iraqi Front for National Dialogue and the secular
Iraqi National List which is headed by former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.
The element linking these and many other targeted murders is unquestionably the well
funded force behind them. Interestingly, almost all of these figures had recently stated
their contempt for the Iranian influence in Iraq, or expressed their explicit support for a
major Iranian opposition group based in Ashraf, Iraq. Absence of these talented figures
will surely influence the dynamics of the future Iraqi politics. Their methodical
elimination from the political and social landscape will have effectively served to silence
the democratic voices speaking for an independent and sovereign Iraq. In this fashion,
Tehran's dictators wish to get closer to the prize: to rule over the holly cities of Najaf and
Karbalah.
That the mullahs in Iran have a vested interest in Iraq, and are simultaneously incapable
of tolerating progressive social and political views is not a recent phenomenon.
To put the recent events in perspective, one must recall the long and bloody Iran-Iraq
war. The mullahs' protracted that war years after Iraq's withdrawal to international
borders. Their aim was clear then as was it consistent with their ideology. Then and now,
their actions are motivated by a single expansionist aim: to establish a greater Islamic
state which includes Iraq. Additionally, the Ayatollahs and their extremist cronies had
long ago perfected the art of eliminating secular, moderate, democratic and independent
voices. The streets of Tehran and Western Europe have witnessed countless terrorist acts,
cold blooded murders, and uninhibited assassinations devised and carried out by the order
of the highest authorities in the clerical state.
And yes, the logic behind the Iranian clerics' strategy is deliberate yet quite simple.
Tehran's mullahs are doing to Iraqis, as they did to Iranian intellectuals and dissidents. By
achieving a homogeneous yet extremist socio-political landscape in Iraq, they aim to
further expand their reach into the west, east or north. This undertaking is certainly
consistent with their deliberate campaign aimed at achieving regional expansion, paving
the way towards an Islamic Caliphate dynasty. All of this would be a catastrophe not only
for Iraq and the region, but also for the international community at large.
Dr. Majid Sadeghpour is a human rights activist. He is currently with the National
Coalition of Pro-Democracy Advocates (www.ncpda.com).