Al-Sharq al-Awsat, Lon­don, Septem­ber 5

The Jerusalem Post - The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - ARAB MEDIA - – Abd al-Rah­man al-Rashed

The mul­lahs in Tehran ex­pe­ri­enced yet an­other blow this week, when the Iraqi par­lia­ment suc­ceeded in form­ing a coali­tion con­sist­ing of mod­er­ate po­lit­i­cal forces led by Mo­q­tada al-Sadr. This po­lit­i­cal coali­tion, num­ber­ing over 170 mem­bers, is far larger than the op­po­si­tion bloc backed by Iran.

This is a water­shed mo­ment. The Ira­ni­ans con­sid­ered Iraq their home turf. It had not even crossed the mind of Qassem Soleimani, the com­man­der of the Revo­lu­tion­ary Guards Corps, that Iran might lose its foothold in Bagh­dad, where it has been con­trol­ling pol­i­tics for years. There is no doubt in my mind that what led to this Iraqi de­ter­mi­na­tion to come to­gether against Iran and form a sta­ble coali­tion is none other than Is­rael’s threats. Is­rael has made it very clear in re­cent weeks that any Ira­nian pres­ence in Iraq, par­tic­u­larly the de­ploy­ment of Ira­nian weapon sys­tems, would force Tel Aviv to “erad­i­cate” the threat on Iraqi ter­ri­tory.

Is­raeli De­fense Min­is­ter Avig­dor Liber­man con­ducted sev­eral in­ter­views in which he threat­ened that the Is­rael Air Force would act in Iraq just like it acts in Syria. The Iraqi mem­bers of par­lia­ment heard and un­der­stood these threats loud and clear. De­spite fac­ing heavy pres­sure from var­i­ous Ira­nian stake­hold­ers, who pushed them to re­ject a po­lit­i­cal part­ner­ship with mod­er­ate forces, they were forced to heed the Is­raeli warn­ing.

Had this coali­tion-build­ing process taken place a year ago, it is very likely that the Iraqi par­lia­ment would have been a pup­pet gov­ern­ment that takes orders from Tehran. Thank­fully, this wasn’t the case. The de­ci­sion to pro­tect Iraq’s sovereignt­y is the first step in a long jour­ney to turn Iraq into a sta­ble and vital demo­cratic coun­try. The peo­ple of Iraq have suf­fered so much in re­cent decades and the time has fi­nally come for them to en­joy peace and se­cu­rity.

While Iran hoped to use Bagh­dad as a tool – to laun­der its money, smug­gle its weapons, and over­ride the sanc­tions im­posed upon it by the West – the Iraqi par­lia­ment made a clear de­ci­sion to dis­so­ci­ate it­self from Tehran and stand by the peo­ple of Iraq.

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