Recent reports about Saudi troops amassing to secure that countryís border with Iraq underscores the multinational dimensions of the conflicts raging inside both Iraq and Syria. Civil wars that might have initially only threatened the two dictators are now endangering the entire region and global security.
The main culprit for the growing instability is no other party but the repressive theocracy in Iran. This is the view shared by many of our former colleagues in Congress, evident in a series of recent hearings which addressed the destabilizing role of Tehran in the Middle East.
Without the overreaching and destructive influence of the Iranian regime is Syria and Iraq, the Syrian civil war would not have dragged this long and the situation in Iraq would not have spiraled out of control. When the mass uprisings began in Syria back in 2011, the Syrian dictatorshipís fate was essentially sealed. But the tide began to turn in the war when the Iranian regime propped up its ally by sending shipments of arms, equipment, and even soldiers.
Clearly Iran directs its neighbors to establish a repressive regime that mirrors its own and Nouri al-Maliki has succeeded in Iraq. Despite a somewhat myopic perspective on the crisis in much of the media, the problems in Iraq arenít simply a result of religious differences, and they arenít merely driven by extremism. They are the end results of Malikiís decision to exclude large sections of Iraqi society from the political process and to remove all obstacles on the path of his Iranian patronsí quest for regional hegemony.
This began immediately after American troops withdrew from Iraq. The Sunnis, the Kurds, Christians and other minorities were disenfranchised. Even Shiites who didnít follow the line of Maliki and Iranís Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei were marginalized. To prove his loyalty to the Iranian regime, Maliki even conducted several massacres of defenseless Iranian political refugees in camps Ashraf and Liberty.
Therefore, it was virtually inevitable the Iraqi people would rise up to protest against Malikiís authoritarian rule. Many people staged months of sit-ins and peaceful demonstrations in the northern part of the country. Maliki responded with excessive force and an iron fist. One can only wonder why the media and U.S. Department of State that praised such protest at the epicenter of the Arab Spring were silent during the Iraqi cry for justice and inclusion. Malikiís sectarian policies, supported by Tehran, continue to breed more extremism on both sides of the conflict. The solution is the ousting of Maliki and eviction of his Iranian backers from Iraqi politics.
As much as Iranís influence poses a threat to the rest of the world, if the world responds effectively, these conflicts could pose a threat to the very survival of the Iranian regime, long considered by the U.S. government as the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world.
What can make a firm international response more effective is the widespread hatred the Iranian people have towards a regime that routinely and systematically violates their fundamental human rights. Despite thousands of executions, torture and imprisonment of political activists, the Iranian people have not given up their fight to uproot the theocratic system and replace it with a democracy.
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., walks on Broadway after a Future Forum with young entrepreneurs in the Flatiron District of New York City, April 16, 2015. Reps. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., Seth Moulton, D-Mass., and Grace Meng, D-N.Y., also attended.