Iraqi Lawmakers Approve New Government

Iraqi Lawmakers Approve New Government


Iraqi Lawmakers Approve New Government 

After a year of stalemate, Iraq’s lawmakers approved a new government on Thursday. It is being headed by Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, a former minister of human rights and labor and social affairs. Sudani is seen as close to former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and is endorsed by the Coordination Framework, a group of Iran-backed organizations. Sudani decided to retain Fuad Hussein as foreign minister for a second term. Ahead of his parliamentary vote, Sudani told lawmakers: “the epidemic of corruption that has affected all aspects of life is more deadly than the corona pandemic and has been the cause of many economic problems, weakening the state’s authority, increasing poverty, unemployment, and poor public services.” But how he delivers on this pledge is in question given his dependence on the Iran-backed parties. Also, his political manifesto released this week did not call for U.S. forces to withdraw from Iraq and said future troop levels would be decided by Iraqi commanders.  

Israel and the Palestinian Territories 

Hamas to Establish Permanent Presence in Syria 

Hezbollah-linked Al-Akhbar reported that, during the discussions leading to the resumption of relations between Hamas and the Syrian regime, it was agreed that the Palestinian group would appoint a permanent representative in Damascus. This, the paper stated, would occur despite widespread displeasure over the reconciliatory move among Muslim Brotherhood circles and even within Hamas.  

Relatedly, Hamas condemned recent Israeli airstrikes targeting Syria, calling them “repeat criminal thuggery against the umma” and as an “extension of the operations of killing and terrorism [that Israel conducts] against our Palestinian people.”


Nasrallah Gives Speech Addressing Lebanon-Israel Maritime Border Deal 

As Israeli and Lebanese negotiators separately signed a maritime border deal on Thursday at the headquarters of UNIFIL in Naqoura, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah delivered a speech addressing the event. Nasrallah called the signing of the deal a “very big victory for Lebanon, for the state, for the people, and for the resistance.” Nasrallah also stressed there was no basis for reading a path towards Israel-Lebanon normalization in the deal, “not even the resemblance of normalization, nor even a whiff of normalization.” During his speech, Nasrallah also announced an end to the alleged mobilization and alert on which Hezbollah fighters had been placed during negotiations.  

Nasrallah also addressed the ISIS terror attack that occurred in the Iranian city of Shiraz, ultimately blaming the United States for the incident because Washington “stands behind this group…and uses it for its accursed goals.” 


Spate of Israeli Airstrikes Target Syria 

Over the course of the last week, Israel conducted several strikes in Syria most likely targeting Iranian weapons transfers occurring through the country. The first of this round of strikes occurred on Friday, targeting sites near Damascus International Airport and reportedly destroyed a YLC-6M radar station belonging to the Syrian army. Israeli followed up with another airstrike on Monday afternoon. This rare daylight airstrike targeted sites near the Syrian capital Damascus and Al-Dimas. Syrian sources reported that one Syrian soldier was killed, and some material damage was caused. The last strike occurred on Wednesday night, targeting Damascus’ outskirts. This third strike reportedly occurred a day after an Iranian-linked plane landed at Damascus International Airport. Aviation monitors tracked an Iranian Ilyushin cargo plane transiting to Damascus International Airport. An Ilyushin IL-76D cargo plane operated by Pouya Air, which is sanctioned by the U.S. government and linked to Pars Air, landed at the airport on Wednesday. Pars Air, the U.N. says, is linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Additionally, after the strikes, it was reported that Israel had sent Damascus a message that it will ramp up airstrikes in Syria over cooperation with Iran in smuggling arms to Hezbollah.  

Relatedly, a report appeared in Hezbollah mouthpiece Al-Akhbar declaring the existence of a new “equation” of deterrence among pro-Resistance Axis forces: that the “resistance” would retaliate against Israeli airstrikes in Syria by targeting U.S. forces deployed in that country. Al-Akhbar also claimed that the explosion that occurred Saturday night at a U.S. base in Omar Field resulted from an attack on the base by “popular resistance forces.” Tasnim News Agency echoed this claim, saying the attack on the U.S. base was carried out with drones.