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Will Iran Step In To Suppress Lebanon And Iraq Uprisings?

Protesters in Lebanon and Iraq have been venting their fury at Iran, which is accused of practically running their countries. Tehran is not afraid to come down hard on its domestic opponents.

Police and protesters in October in Beirut
Police and protesters in October in Beirut
Marcos Peckel


For the past several weeks, Iraq and Lebanon have become the settings of major popular protests: a mix of people, coming from different religious and ethnic backgrounds, are rising up against rulers who are rotten, aloof and have long fanned sectarian discord to keep themselves in power. What we may be witnessing is a kind of Arab Spring 3.0.

The first round was in 2010, with its dismal results: Syria, Yemen and Libya are collapsing, and Egypt quickly turned around to restore a military regime. Tunisia, which has found its path to democracy and inclusion, is the admirable exception. The second wave of spring came in 2018 and is still a work in process. It overthrew the dictators of Sudan and Algeria, even as the countries' military are clinging to power for dear life.

Lebanon and Iraq have governments controlled, more or less, by Tehran. For the Lebanese, the terrorist organization Hezbollah, a militia far stronger than the army, is part of the government; while in Iraq after the defeat of ISIS, Shia militias and political parties beholden to Tehran have taken over and now face public ire.

Both countries have suffered from grave deficiencies in governance, from corruption, sectarianism, dilapidated public services, power cuts, rampant joblessness, trash left on the streets and massive theft of young people's hopes.

Iran will use extreme force if necessary.

So the now brazen protesters are directing their rage at Iran, which they accuse of "controlling the country," incidentally reopening a historical division between Arab and Iranian

Shias. They have burned pictures of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and attacked its consulate in Kerbala while chanting slogans against Iran and the pro-Iranian government in Baghdad. In Lebanon, Hezbollah "black shirts' riding motorbikes have attacked protesters, provoking clashes with the army, which still maintains the population's respect.

For Iran, these protests are a challenge to its dominance in both countries, which is why Tehran will seek to block any changes threatening its hegemony and use extreme force if need be. Its proxy militias have been blamed for the 250 or so deaths among Iraqi protesters. In their honor, the residents of Najaf, a sacred city for all Shias, renamed one avenue from "Ayatollah Khomeini​," the leader of the 1979 Iranian revolution, to "Martyrs of October."

The regime of the ayatollahs brutally crushed protests by Iranians in 2009, when fraudulent electoral results robbed the presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Musavi of a likely victory. Iraq and Lebanon are its regional armor, with another uncertain piece tucked inside: Syria. Rest assured, Iran will not let any of them go away.

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Why Poland's Draconian Anti-Abortion Laws May Get Even Crueler

Poland has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. Several parties vying in national elections on Oct. 15 are competing for conservative Catholic voters by promising new laws that could put women's lives at risk.

Photograph of a woman with her lower face covered holding a red lightning bolt - the symbol of the Women's Strike - during the demonstration outside Kaczynski's house.

November 28, 2022, Warsaw, Poland: A protester holds a red lightning bolt - the symbol of the Women's Strike - during the demonstration outside Kaczynski's house.

Attila Husejnow/ZUMA
Katarzyna Skiba


In 2020, Poland was rocked by mass protests when the country’s Constitutional Tribunal declared abortions in the case of severe fetal illness or deformity illegal. This was one of only three exceptions to Poland’s ban on abortions, which now only applies in cases of sexual assault or when the life of the mother is at risk.

Since the 2020 ruling, several women have filed complaints to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) after giving birth to children with severe fetal abnormalities, many of whom do not survive long after birth. One woman working at John Paul II hospital in the Southern Polish town of Nowy Targ told Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza that a patient was forced to give birth to a child suffering from acrania a lethal disorder where infants are born without a skull.

However, even in cases where abortion is technically legal, hospitals and medical professionals in Poland still often refuse to perform the procedure, citing moral objections.

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