The protesters, furthermore, do not want to be part of a quasi-Iranian protectorate. Ominously for Iran, the Iraqi protests spread like wildfire from Baghdad — a mainly Shia city — throughout the Shia heartlands and holy cities of the south.
Barham Salih, Iraq’s respected Kurdish president, has proposed electoral reforms to make MPs accountable to their voters, moving from a party-list system under sectarian bosses to individual constituencies. That is highly unlikely to happen peacefully. In Lebanon, Hezbollah is in a bind. The kudos derived from forcing Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 and holding its army to a draw in 2006, and in helping defeat Isis in Syria, is fading. Now their sponsors are pushing them to defend a status quo rigged in Iran’s favour. But this means the Party of God, and its self-described immunity from corruption, is having to side with the kleptocracy.