08.01.2024 Author: Viktor Mikhin

Iraq Faces Challenging Times Again

Iraq Faces Challenging Times Again

The bloody massacre perpetrated by the distraught Israeli military led by Netanyahu against the civilian population in Gaza has a very negative impact on the whole situation in neighboring countries, thereby further exacerbating the already very turbulent situation in the region. In light of recent events, there have been a number of troubling developments in Iraq, where Shia militant groups such as Kataib Hizballah, Asaib Ahl Al-Haq and Badr have been at the forefront of the unrest. The head of Badr has said that the liberation of Palestine will begin in Iraq, and many militias have set up “support rooms” to coordinate their support for Hamas.

The US Embassy in Baghdad and other facilities housing US troops have suffered numerous attacks. Attacks by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq on US facilities began on October 17, when Israel bombed the Al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza, killing more than 300 Palestinians. On November 21-22, a series of US airstrikes near Baghdad killed nine Iraqi militiamen whose Kataib Hezbollah organization was accused of using drones to attack US bases in the country. Despite Iraq being far from the fighting front in Gaza, there have been nearly 100 attacks on US bases in the country over the past two months. Although casualties were relatively light, these militia actions reflected widespread anti-American sentiment in Iraq and led to swift retaliation. Currently there are legitimate concerns that the spread of the war in Gaza throughout the region could begin in Iraq.

The US State Department predictably strongly condemned these rocket attacks, expressing deep concern about the threat these Iran-linked militias pose “to the security and stability of Iraq.” In addition to diplomatic representation (the American embassy in Baghdad looks more like a huge, heavily fortified medieval castle), the US continues to maintain approximately 2,500 troops in Iraq whose mission is to “offer guidance and support to local forces engaged in the ongoing fight against Daesh.”

This brings nothing but smiles. We are well aware that this terrorist organization was created by the United States itself to distract the Iraqis from the fight against the arrogant American occupiers. At first, American pilots even dropped weapons and ammunition to Daesh detachments (later all this was attributed to mistakes), and only after the Iraqi army left Mosul on orders from the Pentagon, leaving behind a huge amount of weapons and ammunition, the Americans calmed down a little bit and began to “fight” with Daesh.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani also condemned the attacks on the Embassy as an unacceptable act, stressing the urgent need to bring those responsible to justice. What else can he do but dance to the American tune? He expressed “deep concern” over the missile attacks on the US Embassy and called on the country’s security forces to make every effort to track down the perpetrators of this heinous crime. Ironically, al-Sudani initiated a multilateral response to the situation, which is typical of successive Iraqi administrations, as Iraqi news agency Shafaq news subtly noted. First, he ordered a full investigation into the actions of militias responsible for the attacks. It is understood that this investigative measure is aimed at identifying individuals and groups involved in organizing and carrying out rocket attacks, and ultimately ensuring that those responsible are held accountable for their actions. In addition, the Prime Minister made organizational changes, replacing the security regiment in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone. The decision was aimed at strengthening security measures in this critical area, where diplomatic missions and critical government infrastructure are located.

The statements and actions made by the Iraqi leader may initially appear laudable as he seeks to create an image of a person responsible for his country’s security and demonstrate his commitment to holding Iranian-backed militias accountable for their violations of both the country’s foreign and domestic interests. However, a closer look at these interventions raises pertinent questions regarding their effectiveness and underlying motivations. The initiation of an investigation ostensibly aimed at identifying and apprehending those responsible for the attacks raises questions about its significance. What is puzzling are the results of such investigative efforts, especially in light of reports that the Iraqi leader is already well aware of the identities of those militias. This apparent contradiction raises concerns about the effectiveness and integrity of such investigations, as it raises questions about whether they serve primarily as symbolic gestures rather than substantive actions aimed at real accountability.

Ironically, leaders of prominent Iraqi factions, such as Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada, have publicly rejected any halt or reduction in their operations. Their unwavering commitment to ongoing military action is clearly linked to some external events, particularly the war in Gaza. These statements highlight the complexity of the situation and the deep-rooted motives that fuel the actions of these militias, making it increasingly difficult for investigators to effectively address underlying issues on their own. In addition, senior officials of Kataib Hezbollah, another powerful militia group, have vowed to continue attacking American bases in Iraq. This intransigent position not only contradicts the Iraqi leader’s instructions, but also underscores the lingering grievances that continue to fuel the fighting.

Perhaps most troubling is the open challenge these militias pose to the Iraqi leadership itself. They claim that Iraqi security forces who cooperate with US forces are “complicit in their crimes.” This bold assertion not only undermines the authority of the Iraqi government, but also deepens internal divisions, thereby complicating any prospects for reconciliation or settlement. A quick review of Iraqi television shows that Iranian-backed militia leaders show a blatant disregard for the authority vested in the Prime Minister and the rule of law in Iraq. This alarming disregard for established governance structures raises concerns that these militias could wield significant influence, to the point where they could potentially completely undermine al-Sudani’s influence if Iran decides to use such leverage. Through their actions and rhetoric, Iranian-backed militia leaders make it clear that they operate outside the law and with impunity, challenging the very foundations of the rule and the rule of law that Iraq seeks to support. However, all these freedoms, democracy and law exist only on paper, and in real life Iraqis are forced to unite with their neighbors and members of the tribe in order to somehow protect their interests, families and survive with dignity in this very challenging environment that has developed after an unprovoked US aggression against sovereign Iraq.

The possibility that Tehran may decide to use these militias as instruments of its foreign policy or to put pressure on the Iraqi government through them is deeply troubling. This raises pressing questions about Iraq’s sovereignty and its ability to make independent decisions in the face of external pressure. It also highlights the fragile nature of the political and security situation in Iraq, where non-state actors supported by external forces have the potential to disrupt and challenge the stability and governance of the country. All this is a direct, harmful consequence of the brazen US aggression in 2003, the repercussions of which fatally poison Iraqi society to this day and prevent it from creating a new independent Iraq.

A severance of US ties with Iraq, according to American political scientists, could lead to increased political instability in the country, potentially exacerbating internal conflicts and violence as different factions fight for power. Yes, indeed, Iraq has a fragile political landscape with many ethnic and sectarian divisions. But the brazen aggression of the United States played a very negative role even in maintaining the appearance of stability, since it was then that the country’s state mechanism was broken and now everything works on agreements and mediators between various groups. Reducing the role and importance of the United States can only enhance political stability, potentially resolving a number of internal conflicts.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s economy is closely linked to the United States through trade, investment and oil exports. Disruption of these financial relationships could lead to economic hardship in Iraq. There are also human consequences, as Washington provides humanitarian assistance to the central government, including support for displaced populations and efforts to rebuild the national economy destroyed by American aggression. The cessation of these programs would negatively impact these ongoing efforts and potentially worsen the already dire humanitarian situation in some parts of Iraq.

Shafaq news states that it is now critical for al-Sudani and other Iraqi political leaders to maintain a clear understanding of Iran’s ambitions and exercise due diligence to prevent any deterioration in relations with both Washington and Tehran. Failure to do so could have dire consequences, and the Iraqi people will ultimately lose. It is in Iraq’s best interests to maintain balanced and constructive international relations for the prosperity and stability of the nation.


Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, exclusively for the internet journal “New Eastern Outlook”.

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