The angry Iraqi street directed a new blow to Iran by burning its consulate in the city of Najaf, the center of spiritual Shiism in the world, and the headquarters of the Supreme Shiite authority over time.
This is the third Iranian consulate burned by Iraqi protesters, after the Basra consulate in 2018, and the Karbala consulate a few weeks ago, reflecting the bitter reality Iran is ignoring – a radical shift in the mood of the Iraqi Shiite street towards it , even though it presents itself to the world as a guardian of the Shiite sect. .
As for why the consulate was burned, Iraqi observers believe that Iran is behind the devastation that has ravaged their country for the past 16 years, under the auspices of both Shiite and Sunni political parties, adding that since the protests began, protesters have been trying to convey this message to Iran but no avail.
Iran shows that it is dealing lightly with demonstrations in Iraqi cities that it has not closed its embassy and consulates, nor deported its diplomats and their families, as do the countries concerned for the safety of their citizens working in dangerous areas. Observers of the Iraqi issue attributed the Iranian behavior, which they described as irresponsible, to an Iranian desire not to look at the protests in its normal size. Iran also does not want to give the protesters a sense of victory over it that it formed an additional reason to the decision taken by protesters to burn its consulate in Najaf, which had previously burned its consulates in Basra and Karbala.
The burning of the consulate is also a symbolic destruction of the great banner in which Iran exercises its dominance over the region as a patron of Shi’ism. Thus, when the strike comes from the Iraqi Shia themselves, and in the holy city of Najaf, home to important Shia shrines, it dismantles the ideological stockpile of Iran and its parties loyal to it .
Following this, Brigadier-General Erg Mesjedi, Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, described Iraqi protesters as vandals and foreign agents, while the Iranian TV reporter criticized the authorities for “watching what was happening and doing nothing.”
In light of the ongoing protest movement in Iraq and the targeting of the Iranian consulate, which is an important message in rejecting Iranian influence by the Iraqi people, it means that Iraq has reached the brink of the abyss of the civil war and another aspect of the US-Iranian conflict in Iraq. In spite of the missiles targeting US interests in Iraq, Aramco and the resignation of Adil Abdul Mahdi, and in return for the Iranian protest movement that Tehran sees as Washington, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv are behind it, the message war between Washington and Tehran has continued and these messages may continue with the new Prime Minister especially if he receives the US and Iranian approval in his appointment as prime minister of Iraq. The Iranian missile messages on US interests in Iraq may be the American answer in the coming days. Washington may move to impose sanctions on Iraqi figures allied to Tehran.
To defend its interests in Iraq and the Arabian Gulf against Iranian threats, the United States is prepared to confront anyone who tries to tamper with its interests. This confrontation does not stop at the limits of economic and military sanctions, but may even extend to direct confrontation.
Geography is irreplaceable. Iran is a large and ancient country in the region. The presence of its neighbors is also ancient. The only realistic option is coexistence. But this coexistence will remain difficult, booby-trapped and threatened unless it is based on a new language that respects international borders, and away from the policy of infiltration and holding cards in the maps of others. It is the right of any state to seek a role and influence, but the question remains about the means. The new role is created by an attractive model, economic success and improvement of people’s living conditions. Germany has a role in Europe, but it does not try to gain veto power in Paris or create parallel armies in Madrid.
It is clear that the current Iranian role in Baghdad is greater than Iraq’s tolerability. The same can be said of Lebanon, of course, with regard to geographical differences and demographics. You have the right to choose what you want within your borders, but you do not have the right to impose yourself on the maps of others.
Iraqi Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies