Kadhimi must not become another Rafik Hariri
Sunday’s attempt to assassinate Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi was deplorable, unacceptable … and entirely predictable.
Since the comprehensive defeat of Iranian-aligned militias and parties at legislative elections in October, it has been clear that the agents of Tehran would react in the way they always do — by trying to kill those they could not defeat at the ballot box.
There is no “smoking gun” yet to incriminate Iran or its stooges over the failed assassination attempt, but it was clearly a product of the template Iran has created for subversion in the region. Anyone who does not comply with its idea of “armageddon,” or who fails to kowtow to the religious mercenaries in Tehran, is marked for elimination. Before the attempt on Kadhimi’s life, several activists — Shiite as well as Sunni — who called for an end to Iranian interference in Iraq were killed.
The people of Iraq have seen through the Iranian gameplan, and understand it only too well. They know that Iran is playing politics in the region, and doing so with Iraqi blood. That is why Tehran’s consulates and missions have been being torched by ordinary Iraqis. The popular movement against Iranian influence in Iraq has gained ground in the past few years, since Iranian agents massacred at least 1,000 peaceful protesters who began demonstrating in October 2019. That further fed anti-Iran sentiment and the anti-Iran movement. This year’s election results provided the most comprehensive proof so far that Iran is now viewed by ordinary Iraqis as a foreign occupying power.
It should not surprise anyone that the attempt to assassinate Kadhimi came just a few hours after he was threatened by Qais Al-Khazali of the pro-Iranian Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq militia; threats typical of Iranian-backed militias’ behavior toward anyone who threatens their hegemony or does not bend to their whims. Kadhimi’s primary aim was — and remains — to restore genuine Iraqi sovereignty. He has appealed to national pride. During his time as prime minister he has taken a clear stand against the militias and has repeatedly talked about not permitting the development of a state within a state. He has not allowed himself to be browbeaten or blackmailed into supporting Iran’s agenda.
Rafik Hariri was a good man who did all the right things; since his murder, Lebanon has lost all hope. Kadhimi is also a good man doing the right things, and with him Iraq actually stands a chance.
Faisal J. Abbas
Kadhimi opened channels with Iraq’s natural allies in the Arab world. He took the honorable and courageous position of seeking closer ties with Iraq’s Arab neighbors, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In return, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi gave him full support in restoring Iraq’s prominent position in the Arab world. This was, of course, a red flag for the mullahs in Tehran. They want Iraq to be mired in misery and political instability. A weak Iraq is what the mullahs want. They do not want reformers or moderates to succeed.
Kadhimi was targeted on Sunday by three explosives-laden drones. Had two of them not been intercepted, there is every possibility that he would have become another Rafik Hariri, the Lebanese prime minister blown up by Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah operatives for having the temerity to chart an independent path to success and sovereignty for his country. Look at what Iran has done to Lebanon — turned a once thriving nation into an economic basket case and an international pariah that exports drugs, drones and terrorism. Lebanon has become a country where an armed militia is holding the government and the people hostage —the very template Tehran wants to impose on all Arab states.
The international community, and especially the Biden administration in the US, must finally wake up to the sinister Iranian game plan. The world should stop appeasing this monster. What is needed is not mere verbal condemnation, but tangible and robust action. This must be a stark warning to the US president that these are not the kind of people his administration should be trying to sign a deal with.
Without effective sanctions and a clear signal that such reckless behavior will be punished, Iran and its militias will continue to destabilize the region and eliminate any possibility of peace, tolerance and moderation taking root. Now is the time to take a clear stand and let Iran know that its malign meddling stops here, and it stops now.
Rafik Hariri was a good man who did all the right things; since his murder, Lebanon has lost all hope. Kadhimi is also a good man doing the right things, and with him Iraq actually stands a chance. However, he deserves more than the world just crossing its fingers and hoping he escapes every time Tehran’s agents of evil try to end his life.
- Faisal J. Abbas is Editor in Chief of Arab News. Twitter: @FaisalJAbbas