There are several states in the Middle East region currently on the brink of economic and political collapse – Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon – Iranian meddling is directly responsible for all of this.
Even before 2020 all of these were deeply fragile, conflict-ridden states after at least a decade of Iranian attempts to subvert their political systems and convert them into client states.
Prior to the pandemic, a huge proportion of Lebanese and Iraqi citizens were coming out onto the streets every day to protest the corruption and dysfunction of their governing systems and to express their outrage at Iranian interference.
In Iraq, hundreds of Iraqis were shot dead by militia snipers loyal to Tehran. Iranians themselves have also turned out in hundreds of thousands, despite massacres of protestors by the Revolutionary Guard.
Hezbollah now dominates Lebanon – in collaboration with loyal factions on Iran’s payroll. In Yemen, Iranian weapons allowed Houthi terrorists to take over much of the country. Iranian missiles have been used to launch hundreds of attacks against Saudi Arabia from inside Yemen.
In Syria, Iran has supported a regime which is so nasty, genocidal and corrupt that even its Russian allies have turned against it. Finally, in Iraq Al-Hashd al-Shaabi militants are in control of much of the country and dominate the political system.
Iran also tried on at least three occasions (1981, 1996 and 2011) to stage coups or regime change in Bahrain, including through smuggling explosives and weapons into the Kingdom with which to launch attacks against the police and public places. However, through the vigilance of Bahrain’s leadership and support of citizens, these attempts always ended in failure.
More recently, Iran’s cover-up of its Coronavirus outbreak allowed hundreds of virus cases to spread throughout the GCC region and Arab world. Even now, a high proportion of current Coronavirus cases are ultimately linked back to these original Iranian infections, which could have been prevented if the Tehran regime hadn’t prioritized saving face over saving lives.
Iraq and Lebanon in particular were prosperous and cultured Arab states. Iran has sought to steal their Arab identity and by turning them into marginalized pariah states has caused huge damage to their economies. All these states, along with Iran itself, were already facing chronic financial and political crises before the onset of Coronavirus and the economic damage caused by the crash in oil prices.
These countries already had shocking levels of youth unemployment, with unemployment rates increasing several times over in the first half of 2020 and large numbers of civil servants suddenly not being paid.
In past decades Arab leaders made strenuous efforts to seek brotherly relations with the Tehran regime, as a fellow Muslim nation. However, on all occasions the response has been attempts at subversion, regime change, cyber-warfare, terrorism, paramilitancy, weapons proliferation, hostile media propagandizing, money-laundering, drugs smuggling and organized crime. This is a terrorist regime which only knows how to conduct foreign policy through attacking all states within its reach.
Unfortunately, European politicians seem to believe that they can address Tehran’s warmongering and nuclear proliferation just by talking nicely to the Ayatollahs. The US leadership (for now) takes the Iranian threat seriously, but beyond endless sanctions announcements doesn’t appear to have a serious strategy for ending this threat.
A sickness has spread across the region and the roots of that sickness lead back to Tehran. America and Coronavirus have crushed Iran’s economy, yet still much of the Iranian state budget is diverted to waging war, paramilitancy and chaos throughout the region. This won’t cease until Iranians themselves rise up and dispose of their evil leaders.