Former Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs and Finance Hoshyar Zebari said that the kidnapping of the Qatari hunters represented a defeat for Iraq’s sovereignty and institutions, knowing that it was not the first time it had happened. Turkish workers had also been kidnapped while working on the construction of a football field in al-Sadr city in Baghdad. Both crimes were conducted by a militia affiliated with Iran.
Is it possible that, upon Iran’s directives, armed militias abduct a group of Qatari visitors who legally entered Iraq with visas and were under the protection of Iraqi security forces?
Iran-linked militia Iraqi Hezbollah dared to publically challenge the government by kidnapping Qatari civilians for 18 months and, on behalf of Iranians, negotiated their release un conditions.
Iran is doing today in Iraq what it did in Lebanon during the 1980’s. It transferred Lebanon into an arena against the West, and at the time Iranian territories were secured, Lebanon was a target for Israeli occupation, US bombardment, and the Syrian troops for looting. Until this day, Lebanon is suffering within a semi-sovereign state.
Tehran’s regime was active in Iraq over the past few years establishing multiple militias to subdue other Iraqi forces. The largest of all the militias is the Popular Mobilization Forces which became a militia equivalent to the army in order to weaken the centralized Iraqi authorities, just like it did in Lebanon.
But, can the Iranian regime abolish the Iraqi state with its enormous resources and which is larger than Lebanon and has a far more important strategic value?
Iran is trying to control Iraq in a big battle where different Iraqi parties are fighting power and dominance. This is all happening amid difficult circumstances. The government in Baghdad remains silent, avoiding confrontation without any objections to Iran’s continuous interventions and breach of sovereignty.
In case Iranian intelligence manages to control Iraqi official and other institutions, the expected result will be the division of the country.
Kurdistan region can’t remain a part of a frail state run by Tehran. Kurds have always complained that Baghdad is no longer the center of the state because of its weak institutions. Similarly, the five Sunni governorates would refuse to be under the jurisdiction of Baghdad even though over the past eight years, Iran managed to recruit several leaderships, members of parliaments and media figures of those governorates.
It is not unlikely that most Iraqi voices rejecting the Iranian control and its militias in governorates of Shiite majority is because of direct control attempts.
During the years that followed the withdrawal of US troops, Iran managed to infiltrate and control the institutions of the Iraqi states. Tehran went as far to enforce its own interpretation of the Algiers border agreement between Iran and Iraq, changed the stream of Arabian Sea, and forced the Iraqi government to fund its militias in Iraq and Syria claiming they were fighting terrorist organizations.
Because of its area, Iraq won’t be as easy as Lebanon for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Weakening Baghdad will create a dangerous vacuum which will affect the region’s security, including that of Iran.
Iraq is a very important country for superpowers like US and Russia and none of these countries will allow the regional countries, be it Iran or any other, to dominate Iraq without a direct or indirect confrontation.
The repetitive Iranian acts of abduction and extortions in Iraq pose a clear threat to Iraq’s security, stability, and unity.