Nov. 3-4 MIDDLE EAST UPDATE By Barry Webb

SYRIA
Turkish troops have planted a bomb in its so-called “security zone” in northern Iraq killing a number of civilians. The Turks, of course, blamed the YPG Kurds of planting the bomb, so they can accuse Kurds in general of being terrorists so as to justify their ethnic cleansing of areas under their control, and to justify their claim for an ever larger security zone. Al-Arabiyya TV has countered that it was the Turks themselves who planted to the bomb.
Note: Turkey has a history of staging terrorist attacks, even against its own citizens, so as to justify military incursions into Iraq and/or Syria.
Also, the al-Baghdadi compound raided last week was in a part of Idlib province controlled by the Turks for several months. The suspicions in many quarters is that Turkey knew all along where al-Baghdadi was. But it took Kurdish intelligence agents risking their lives (one working for the YPG/SDF that America supported, and one working directly with Iraqi Intelligence) to provide the location of the compound and the confirmation that al-Baghdadi was there—along with a blood sample and a pair his dirty underwear. No thanks to Turkey.
A major report on ISIS after al-Baghadi will be forthcoming in a few days.
IRAQ
Massive anti-government demonstrations have continued in numerous Iraqi cities for more than a week. Among the demands of the demonstrators are an end to corruption, improvement in economic opportunity, and better government services.
However, the demonstrations have become increasingly anti-Iranian as well, with one of the demands now being made is to eliminate Iranian influence in Iraqi affairs. In this regard demonstrators have besieged the Iranian Consulate in Karbala*, a city of 700,000 just south of Baghdad. There they have burned tires just outside the consulate, and a few of them mounted the walls of the Consulate compound carrying Iraqi flags with them.
Live ammunition was used to disperse the Demonstrators. Pro-Iran Iraqi stooges claimed that these video feeds were “fake news,” that the clips were actually from other areas in Iraq and then falsely tagged as being from Karbala. This could never happen in Karbala because Karbala is a holy city, they said.
Al-arabiyya TV replied that their interviews of demonstrators on the ground in Karbala confirmed that live rounds were indeed used against the demonstrators in Karbala.
Live rounds were also used against massive demonstrations in Iraq’s capital Baghdad, killing several and wounding many more.
The far south city of al-Basra was also the seen of demonstrations against the government and against Iran.
ANALYSIS:
It is significant in that these anti-Iranian demonstrations are largely taking place in Shi’a dominated regions such as al-Basra and Karbala. Most of the demonstrators are flaunting their identities as Iraqis, rather than their religious identities as Shi’a.
This has to be a huge blow to Iran’s dreams of a “Shi’a crescent” connecting it with the Lebanese Mediterranean coast via a Shi’a-dominated Iraq and Syria. To add insult to injury, the demonstrators have been burning pictures of Khamenei and Khomeini.
Many are shouting “we are all Iraqis” in a huge boost to the concept of the nation state, in defiance of the forces (Islamic and Western Liberal) trying to unravel the world’s nation state system.
LEBANON
Arab Spring 2.0 protests have also been going on in Lebanon. The protestors have been demanding that the government step down (which it did) and that a small government of “technocrats” be appointed to run the country. The main complaint of the protestors is, like those in Iraq, the divvying-up of government positions based on ethnicity (i.e. whether Shi’a, Sunni, or Christian). Their rallying cry is “we are all Lebanese,” striking another blow in favor of the nation state system.
ANALYSIS
Like the protests in Iraq, the Lebanese protests are decidedly anti-Iranian, and against Iran’s control of Lebanese affairs through its client Hizbollah. Still outstanding, though, is the issue of how many Lebanese Shi’a will join the protests against Hizbollah and Iran.
*Karbala was the site of the martyrdom of Muhammad’s grandson Hussein, an event that marks the beginning of the split between the Sunni and the Shi’a. The Shi’a venerate Hussein and “celebrate” his martyrdom in self-flagellation rituals every year. The tomb of Hussein, in Karbala, is thus the prime pilgrimage site for the Shi’a rivalling, if not passing, the importance of Mecca. Shi’a pilgrims come from all over the world, but especially from Iran, to pay their respects to Hussein’s tomb. So, to have anti-Iranian protests in Karbala is especially significant.
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Barry Webb had a 25-year career as an Arabist for the NSA, holds two MA degrees in related subject matter, and is the author of Confessions of an (ex)NSA Spy: Why America and its Allies are Losing the War on Terror. His website is www.barrywebbauthor.com. He is currently a senior fellow for Americans for Inteligence Reform at www.intelreform.org.

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