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And therefore it was Suleimani and his proxies — his “kingmakers” in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq — who increasingly came to be seen, and hated, as imperial powers in the region, even more so than Trump’s America. This triggered popular, authentic, bottom-up democracy movements in Lebanon and Iraq that involved Sunnis and Shiites locking arms together to demand noncorrupt, nonsectarian democratic governance.

On Nov. 27, Iraqi Shiites — yes, Iraqi Shiites — burned down the Iranian consulate in Najaf, Iraq, removing the Iranian flag from the building and putting an Iraqi flag in its place. That was after Iraqi Shiites, in September 2018, set the Iranian consulate in Basra ablaze, shouting condemnations of Iran’s interference in Iraqi politics.

Friedman, Thomas L. “Trump Kills Iran’s Most Overrated Warrior”. The New York Times, January 3, 2010.

Ali Khamenei is a cagey leader who did not become one of the longest serving rulers in the Middle East by impetuously going to war with America. The clerical oligarchs respect American determination and understand the imbalance between a superpower and a struggling regional actor. They have never figured out Donald Trump, a U.S. president who offers unconditional talks while working to crater the Iranian economy. We should not expect Iran to take on a president who just ordered the killing of one of their famed commanders.

Takeyh, Ray. “Why the Death of an Iranian Commander Won’t Mean World War III.” Politico, January 3, 2020.

In Karbala – one of Shiism’s holiest cities, where a 7th-century battle resulted in Islam’s biggest schism between Sunnis and Shiites – the unthinkable has happened.

“The government doesn’t even rule any more. They’re Iran’s puppets. If Iran loosens its grip, then things can change,” explained a protester.

France 24. “In Shiite holy city of Karbala, Iraqis protest against Iranian ‘meddling'”. November 14, 2019.

Iran looks pale this morning.

The mullahs have within their body politic a severely contracting economy. Beyond it, they have inspired the limitless hate of Iraqi Shiite Muslims whom their ambitions have overrun and threaten to permanently subjugate in Iraq. Within their operations centers, they have greeted a dawn that has been deeply and strategically compromised by spies and with the extent of it unknown. Perhaps most lethal: their treatment of Earth herself: desertification, deforestation, severe pollution, etc.: corruption and mismanagement have helped produce not only a noxious politics, inside and out, but literally in some aspects a dying geophysical platform for the state’s existence.

As represented by Tehran, how long a lease has the feudal-medieval mode on earth?

God Almighty himself would not destroy his creation but in the greater natural processes to which Earth is heir — but for ambition, Iran’s Ayatollah would.

Also Related Online

McKay, Hollie. “Soleimani’s killing ignites Russia-vs.-Iran schism in Syria.” Fox News, January 6, 2020.

MEMRI. “New Qods Force Commander Esmail Ghaani: We will Remove American Presence from the Region and Bring About Global Rule of Hidden Imam.” January 6, 2020.

Orton, Kyle. “The Middle East After Qassem Sulaymani.” European Eye on Radicalization, January 6, 2020.