Caroline Glick argues that the mass protests are the product of President Trump’s tough economic sanctions against Iran. She writes:
The sanctions are one of the causes of the protests in both Lebanon and Iraq. Due to the economic constraints Iran is facing, it has reportedly scaled back its payments to its proxies – particularly Hezbollah and the Shiite militias in Iraq. These proxies in turn, have had to expand their use of public funds and extortion to fund their operations.
The protesters in Lebanon are reacting to the economic failure of their country, a failure which owes primarily to government corruption and incompetence. Hezbollah controls the Lebanese government both through its own political representatives and through its proxies. Consequently, it is the protesters’ main target.
In Iraq, the Iranian run Shiite militias have also been feeding off the public trough. They have commandeered public funds and institutions to pay for their operations. And, according to a recent report in Tablet online magazine, they supplement their income by making people travelling on roads under their control pay “tolls.”
If Iran had more money to pay its proxy governments, presumably they would be stealing less money from their respective publics.
In other words, far from having nothing to do with the protests, the sanctions against Iran have everything to do with the protests.
This may be overstating things. Hezbollah and the Iranian militias in Iraq are going to behave corruptly and oppressively regardless of how much funding they receive from Iran. However, it’s more than plausible to believe that the cutback in funding has made them more desperate, and thus more corrupt and oppressive.
Glick’s entire article — a defense of the Trump administration’s sanctions — is worth reading. She concludes:
To date, the Trump administration’s maximum pressure strategy has not managed to bring the regime down. And it is unlikely that on their own, US economic sanctions will suffice to ever bring it down.
Yet as the mass demonstrations against Iran and its proxies in Lebanon and Iraq make clear, the American strategy can and is undermining Iranian domestic and regional power and stability. It is Israel’s responsibility to ensure that this process is expanded and exploited to the greatest degree possible to diminish the prospects of a direct Iranian assault on the Jewish state.