Sep 18, 2017

Don’t Forget About Iraq

While still prime minister, Ariel Sharon expressed strong hope that with the toppling of Saddam Hussein, Iraq would not be a threat to Israel for generations to come. No doubt the wily Sharon knew that geopolitics can turn on a dime, especially in the Middle East, but the point was sound. Iraq would surely take a long time to return as a regional power.

Yet because geopolitics in the region is usually uncertain, few could see that Iraq, even with American help, would become a chaotic entity, while its former rival, Iran, would rise.

With the destabilized government in Iraq, Iran is taking advantage, even meeting with Iraqi officials, which is deeply troubling.

(I visited this past weekend with an Iraqi friend, a Christian, who predicted that the Kurds in the north would achieve independence, and that Iraq as we have known it in effect ceases to exist.)

In a report from the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, we learn that the Iranians are emboldened enough to meet with Iraq’s top officials:

“A   high-ranking   Iranian   delegation   headed   by   the   Chairman   of   the   Expediency Discernment Council, Mahmoud Shahroudi, conducted a visit to Iraq.  The delegation met with the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, former  Prime  Minister  Nouri  al-Maliki,  and paid a visit to the headquarters of the pro

-Iranian Shi’ite militia ‘al-Nujaba’ in Salah al-Din province. The visit, during which the heads of the delegation emphasized Iran’s continued support to Iraq in its fight against terrorism, occurred against the backdrop of the liberation of the city of Tel Afar from ISIS and the reports about improvements in Iraqi-Saudi relations.”

At the same time, the mullahs in Tehran are making sure their presence in these two destroyed countries, Iraq and Syria, remains in place:

“Meanwhile, Iran is continuing to pursue its diplomatic work vis-à-vis Syria and Russia surrounding the negotiations process.  The Iranian deputy foreign minister for Arab and African visited Syria in late August and conducted several meetings with senior Syrian regime officials, chief among them President Assad. In early September, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council met with the special envoy on Syria of the Russian president.”

Traditionally, Iraq has been a lethal foe of Israel. Remember, in all the modern wars, the Iraqis put troops in the field and the deeply anti-Semitic political culture in the country is in keeping with the ancient culture as well. Truly, a Babylon-style spirit has resided in this area for millennia.

Writing for Frontpage, Dr. Majid Rafizadeh offered these insights:

“Iran has utilized its soft and hard power, as well as its sectarian agenda, skillfully to exert influence in Iraq. On the one hand, Iran’s social, religious and cultural affinities with the Shiite population in Iraq have provided the Islamic Republic with a powerful platform to exert influence in Iraq. In addition, economically speaking, Tehran has used trade to ratchet up its leverage in Baghdad. The Islamic State has also provided Iranian leaders with the venue and excuse to increase Tehran’s military presence in Iraq and further dominate Iraqi’s security, intelligence and political establishments.

“On the other hand, by establishing ties, training, financing, unifying and arming Iraqi Shiite militias, Iran seeks to accomplish several objectives the foremost of which are to assist the Shiite militias to achieve political successes in Iraq and enter the parliament and have a say in the internal affairs of Baghdad. This will ensure Iran’s influence in Iraq for the long-term. Reportedly, Iran has repeatedly attempted to encourage the followers of Dawa and Sadr to unite in order to win more seats in the elections, and Tehran had funded its preferred candidates in the parliamentary elections.”

This means that barring divine intervention, Iraq will remain destabilized for generations, and serve as a proxy for Tehran. In essence, Iran is in the midst of a power grab for territory that, while not officially part of Iran, these regions remain under its control. That means Israel will continue to watch its eastern frontier very carefully. The Utopian Age is still far off on the horizon.

By the way—in no way is this a lesser priority than watching geopolitics in the Middle East—the Iraqi friend I mentioned earlier also told me that many Iranian people are becoming born-again and they are open to the Gospel. We sometimes forget the people themselves, so preoccupied are we by the mullahs and imams running the show. Please pray for Middle East Christians who are living under totalitarian regimes. These are precious people and we should never forget that “Iran” is not only about the evil leadership. Real human beings live there and need the Lord, just like we do.

Pray for them always.