Lebanon, Hezbollah and the Kurdish referendum

The crisis in Iraq is so deep that there seems to be no way to recover the country that was founded in the 1920s.

A bigger game. An Iraqi Kurdish boy plays football past posters bearing the image of Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani and supporting independence in Erbil, on August 30. (AFP)

2017/09/10 Issue: 122 Page: 6

The Arab Weekly
Khairallah Khairallah

As it becomes in­creasingly clear that there exists a plan to reshape the Mid­dle East, Iraqi Kurds have no choice but to keep the date of their independence referendum. The vote will be more of a chance for them to gain their rights than just a chance to declare independ­ence.

What’s important is that the referendum succeeds. Independ­ence can wait because all indica­tions are that a unified Iraq is dead. The crisis in Iraq is so deep that there seems to be no way to recover the country that was founded in the 1920s after the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire.

Regardless of Kurdish inde­pendence in Iraq, a big question remains unanswered: What about the Kurds in Turkey, Syria and Iran?

This is a serious question because there is a greater possibil­ity for an alliance between the Syrian regime, Iran and Turkey against Syrian Kurds than against Iraqi Kurds. The likelihood of this scenario was apparent in Hezbol­lah’s efforts to guarantee the transfer of Islamic State (ISIS) fighters and their families from the Syrian-Lebanese borders to Deir ez-Zor. After all, Hezbollah is just another brigade in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Iran.

To save the skin of ISIS, Hezbol­lah was keen on brokering a cease­fire between them and the Lebanese Army. It also assured the conditions and logistics for their transfer to Deir ez-Zor.

What the Lebanese need to know and absorb is that the events in the region are far bigger than Lebanon. It will be an achievement if Lebanon preserves itself.

The whole thing has to do with far bigger countries, such as Iraq and Syria, that are disintegrating. It has also to do with the crisis in Turkey, which failed in its dealings with the Syrian conflict and with the Kurds.

Iran also is caught in a deep crisis despite everything that has been said about its expansionist plans. Iran is indeed in a conun­drum, even with the Iraqi Shia, who are slowly discovering that they are more Arab than Iranian and that it is in their best interest to have better ties with their Arab neighbours.

The Lebanese might find it confusing to understand Hezbol­lah’s role as Iran’s agent in the case of the Kurdish referendum. To understand the situation, they must accept the unavoidable fact that Hezbollah is a sectarian militia with Lebanese elements in the service of Iran. Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is not shy about publicly declaring that his party owes everything to Iran.

In the end, Lebanon is just propaganda space for Iran’s policies and dirty tricks in the Arab region and for hiding its failure in eradicating anything remotely Arab in the region.

In anticipation of the referen­dum in Iraqi Kurdistan, powers, including Turkey and Iran, expressed serious concerns about the spread of the “independence virus” to the Kurds outside Iraq. It is only natural to resort to ISIS to stop the US-backed Kurdish expansion in northern Syria.

The Lebanese go about their internal affairs without realising the importance of the major game being played out in their region. When the Americans occupied Iraq and handed it on a silver platter to Iran in 2003, the aftershocks unleashed reverber­ated in the Middle East and continue to be felt there today. The United States is content with watching events unfold in the region, intervening only when necessary.

Why should it do more when everything in the region is going to plan, a plan that calls for disintegration orchestrated by Iran, Russia and an obedient Syrian regime in the service of Israeli interests?

We know that nothing in the region happens by chance, including the relations between Hezbollah and the Syrian regime on one hand and with ISIS on the other. All three parties provide services to each other. ISIS makes it possible for the Syrian regime and Hezbollah — and Iran by proxy — to claim they are fighting terrorism.

Iraqi Kurdistan will eventually become independent, no doubt about that. What’s more impor­tant is for the Lebanese to realise that their region is going through a critical phase and that they cannot overlook the overall US-Israeli coordination in the region.

Khairallah Khairallah is a Lebanese writer.

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