The Lebanese have been demonstrating for weeks against Hezbollah’s control of their government, which is just another way of saying that they are demonstrating against Iran’s control of their country by proxy. They are demanding a new government of technocrats not connected with any political party be appointed to run the government.
The protestors are made up primarily of Sunnis and Christians. The Iranians have ordered their proxies in both Lebanon and Iraq to do what ever is necessary to put a stop to these demonstrations. Though the violence here has not been as severe as in Iraq, there has been some shooting with live rounds, and last night Hizbollah thugs attacked a group of protestors with motorcycles.
In spite of the Hizbollah violence, the non-terrorist Shi’a Amal party has long ago sold its soul to Hizbollah and has sided against the demonstrators. Likewise the largely figurehead president, Gen. ‘Aoun, a Christian, has sold his soul to Hizbollah, thus he too has sided against the demonstrators (and against his own ethnic group).
The Iraqis have also been demonstrating for weeks. While these demonstrations ostensibly began to protest corruption in the government, lack of services, and a rotten economy that can not provide enough jobs, they quickly morphed also into anti-Iranian protests. What is most interesting about these protests is that they are taking place mostly in the southern portions of the country which is predominantly Shi’a. In other words, we have Shi’a Iraqis in huge numbers protesting Shi’a Iran’s hegemony over their country.
In fact, these Shi’a protestors are burning pictures of Khomeini and Khamenei, burning Iranian flags, and chanting “death to Khamenei.” Iranian stooges in the security forces and in the Iranian-controlled Iraqi Shi’a militias called al-heshd ash-Sha’bi (popular mobilization) militias have been using live rounds against the demonstrators. As a result over a hundred protestors have been killed and hundreds more wounded.
The past week has also seen massive anti-regime protests in Iran taking place in at least 100 cities and towns and in every region of the country. It was the regime’s sudden steep increase in the price of gasoline that allegedly touched off the nation-wide protests, but they too quickly morphed into anti-regime demonstrations with protestors chanting “death to the dictator, death to Khamenei.”
These protests lasted only a few days because the regime did not just use live rounds sporadically like in Iraq, they used live fire massively to intentionally mow down large numbers of protestors at once. Machinegun fire was used at one point. Also, as in Lebanon, thugs on motorcycles were used to terrify and break-up groups of protestors.
Over the weekend, leaders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) met with Muslim Brotherhood (MB) leaders in MB friendly Turkey to discuss common actions against reportedly Saudi Arabia.
Today, Monday 25 November, terrorist-supporting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited MB financier Qatar to discuss regional issues. Arabic news sources are reporting that massive trade deals have been signed as a result of this Erdogan visit. Erdogan, who just happens to have 10,000 Turkish troops already stationed in tiny Qatar, said that his purpose is to guarantee the security of Qatar, and the “peace and stability” of the region. Additional military cooperation is also in the works.
Over the weekend it was reported that the U.S. has begun flying drones over Tripoli to “assess the security situation.” One of those drones has “disappeared.”
U.S. active involvement in the Libya mess is a radical departure from the administration’s here-to-fore “hands off” approach. This radical change in policy came only after Erdogan’s visit to Washington last week. In this regard Trump had also publicly called for Gen. Haftar of the Libyan National Army (who controls most of the country) to halt his attacks against the Tripoli government, which is essentially a Muslim Brotherhood regime supported by MB-supporting states of Turkey and Qatar.
On 24 November, Trump hardened his rhetoric against U.S. double citizen and former CIA asset Haftar, claiming that he was engaging in acts “against the Libyan people,” even though Haftar is supported by the only non-MB parliament elected by the people in the aftermath of Qadhafi’s overthrow. This, now powerless parliament, resides in the city of Tobruk. The Tobruk/Haftar side of the Libyan civil war is supported by the anti-MB governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and to a lesser extent France and Russia.
However, al-jazeera TV has reported that Russian “mercenaries” have recently been aiding Haftar’s forces. It was later revealed that these Russians are members of a Moscow-based security company “Wagner” which is close to the Kremlin.
With all of this as background, and the apparent shift in the WH’s policy from one of neutrality to one apparently favoring the MB-Triploli government (coming only after the visit of MB-supporter Erdogan), on Monday 25 November Libyan General Haftar was in Moscow meeting with high-level Russian military figures. According to al-jazeera reporting the results of these meetings will be increased Russian military aide to Haftar’s cause, including new Russian weapons and a Russian military base somewhere in Libya.
Gen. Haftar’s increased reliance on Russia might be a result of a perceived WH realigning with the Tripoli Government. On the other hand, Trump’s perceived realigning with Tripoli might well be a response to Russia strengthening its hand behind Haftar. If this is true, then one has to ask the question of “what happened to the Trump of the 2016 election campaign?” On numerous times Trump told his adoring audiences “wouldn’t it be nice to get along with Russia? To have Russia as an ally?”
That Trump is long gone. One explanation for the change is that due to the Democrats and their media lapdogs pursuing the Russia, Russia hoax 24/7, even years after the election, Trump feels compelled to constantly take the most hostile hard-line approach to Russia that he can, in hopes of deflating the Dem’s and media obsession with the non-existent Russian collusion theme, or that “Putin has something on Trump.”
This situation, and this sort of pressure from the Dems and the media has now forced Trump to side with the MB in Libya for the simple reason that Russia is supporting that anti-MB faction.
Or, perhaps both theories are wrong, and perhaps the reason for Trump’s anti-Russian and pro-MB moves in Libya, Syria, and elsewhere is done out of deference to Turkey’s Erdogan?
Certainly Trump’s controversial moves in Syria have come after phone calls from Erdogan, and his recent moves vis-à-vis Libya came only after Erdogan’s WH visit.
But something even bigger is possibly brewing in favor of the Turkish strongman Islamist. Everyone on the planet recognizes what a mess Syria is. In this context a recent editorial appeared on www.aljazeera.org claiming that Turkey is the only “rightful” ruler of Syria.
The reasoning went like this: Assad is disqualified because he used poison gas numerous times on is own people. He would never be accepted by the opposition (except for the Kurds who have allied with Assad out of physical necessity after the Trump pull back). The rest of the Syrian opposition is too divided, and mostly dominated by ISIS and al-Qaeda-associated militias.
Even without the civil war, you still have a country divided along ethnic lines with Sunni, Shi’a Alowites, Kurds, and Christians.
Therefore, Turkey is the only entity in the neighborhood capable of imposing its will on all the factions, and bringing stability back to Syria. Turkey is also less offensive to all of the factions than they are to each other (except for the Kurds who would be crushed in this deal). This, of course, is nothing more now than a reconstruction of the Old Turkish-dominated Ottoman Empire—if only partially.
But now, behold the sudden chaos erupting in Iraq, Iran, and Lebanon. The demonstrations in Iran and Lebanon could be traced to Trump’s stringent economic pressure on Iran, and on its client the Hizbollah which dominates the Lebanese government. But, (non-existent) Trump embargoes cannot explain the chaos in Iraq.
Regardless of the causes, the fact of the matter is that all three countries are severely divided along sharp (and many-faceted) ethnic lines, making all three ungovernable by any domestic party. Lebanon is divided almost equally three ways between Sunnis, Shi’a, and Christians, along with a smattering of Druze.
Iraq is also divided ethnically with Shi’a, Sunni, Kurds, Christians, and Yazidis. In the “democracy” set up by the American occupation, the majority Shi’a quickly became the “government” of Iraq—and highly resented by all the other factions who felt left out. And, now, even the Shi’a in the country have turned against the Shi’a rulership due to its domination by neighboring Iran.
So, what is to prevent the Qatar-hosted al-jazeera TV and website from promoting the idea of its big ally, Turkey, from extending its “benign” neo-Ottoman rule over those counties as well? Given Trump’s recent pro-Turkish moves in Syria and Libya, and the chaos in the above-mentioned Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran—what’s to keep the Trump administration from also working towards a “NATO member” Turkish solution to all of those countries?
At first it would look like a genius stroke—the entire Middle East suddenly blanketed in peace and stability. And, theoretically at least, a part of “NATO” through Turkey’s membership.
But the long-term effects would be a total disaster for the current governments of Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia—none of which want Turkish rule (but all of whose people have been seduced, and cultivated, by Turkish soap operas presented in Arabic, by Arabic actors, and which glorify the mythical Ottoman “golden age”).
Then, once all the countries around Israel have become part of this neo-Ottoman empire . . . you can kiss Israel goodbye. Then you can kiss Cyprus and Greece goodbye as well, the Balkans too. A pathetic, weakened, and already half-Islamicized western Europe would be next.
Barry Webb had a 25-year career as an Arabic translator/analyst for the NSA, holds two MA degrees in related subject matters, 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 Currently he is a senior fellow at Americans for Intelligence Reform at www.intelreform.org