posted by Christopher W. Holton
Excellent column from Arab News…Excerpts and LINK below…
With Iraq’s foremost cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, increasingly elderly and frail, Tehran has invested millions in the cause of theocratic domination of the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, seeking to dictate the Shiite leadership succession. This includes winning the allegiance of senior scholars, building and renovating religious institutions, and aggressively propagating the Khomeinist Velayat-e Faqih doctrine. Some of these institutions have been described as front entities for the movement of money and munitions.
The political motivations of such activities are amply demonstrated by the fact that the new head of Iran’s “Headquarters for Reconstruction of Holy Shrines in Iraq” was appointed in 2018 by Soleimani himself. Senior aides of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei also serve with this charity, which reportedly enjoys an annual budget of $1.5 billion.
Trump administration officials like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appear cognizant of the threat posed by Iran and are taking steps to combat it. US Ambassador to Beirut Dorothy Shea has become a visible presence, coordinating activities aimed at blocking Hezbollah’s efforts to dominate Lebanon’s financial and political systems. Washington is offering rewards for information regarding Hezbollah’s financing conduits — including a $10 million bounty on Hezbollah operative Mohammad Al-Kawtharani, whose importance as a pro-Iran regional powerbroker has increased significantly since Soleimani’s death.
Yet, even at a time when thousands of Iranians are dying of COVID-19 and with crude oil exports plunging from 2.5 million to half a million barrels per day in three years (while oil prices have recently halved), Tehran remains committed to investing every available rial in overseas sedition and warmongering.
This regime will never abandon its terrorism, militancy, financial and political manipulation, and theological incitement until America and the international community summon up the political will to support the citizens of Iran in ending its tyranny once and for all.