Tehran pursues confrontation with US at the expense of Iraqis

Iran is happy to escalate against the United States within Iraq’s borders because Tehran does not care about Iraqi lives.
Sunday 02/02/2020
Supporters of Iran-backed Popular Mobilisation Forces damage property inside the US Embassy compound in Baghdad, last December. (AP)
Escalating tensions. Supporters of Iran-backed Popular Mobilisation Forces damage property inside the US Embassy compound in Baghdad, last December. (AP)

Iran-sponsored militants launched a mortar and rocket attack against the US Embassy in Baghdad in its latest escalation against the United States.

Iran has instructed its Shia jihadist proxies to agitate against the United States in Iraq, exposing the false narratives of patriotism and nationalism that some have pushed to polish their sullied images.

Tehran was forced to admit responsibility for the shooting down of Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 in early January, exposing how the mullahs engaged in a wholesale campaign of lies and deceit before being called out.

However, Iranian officials still seek to stir up a conflict with Washington to maintain their country’s relevance in the region after suffering a severe blow when US President Donald Trump authorised a drone strike against Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps al-Quds Force Major-General Qassem Soleimani.

The reason behind Iran’s “bravery” in squaring up to the United States is obvious — the fight is not on its turf. If Iran had to face the prospect of being struck on its own soil or if it escalated matters to the degree that forces the United States to begin a military campaign, it is certain Tehran would not be so keen to keep prodding a bigger beast repeatedly to elicit a reaction.

The Iranian economy is largely in tatters because of Trump’s maximum pressure campaign to convince Tehran of the merits of renegotiating a new agreement that not only addresses its obviously transparent nuclear weapons programme but also its malign activities in the region.

While Iran attempts to downplay its negative effects on the Middle East, none can forget that it was Iran that instigated the crisis in Yemen; it was Iran that assisted the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad in slaughtering hundreds of thousands of Syrians and it was Iran that compromised, undermined and controlled the political systems of Iraq and Lebanon.

In the Iraqi example, Iran also controls countless Shia militias that are integrated within the state’s security apparatus, demonstrating how Iraq’s national security is undermined by Iranian malignancy. Iran further uses Iraq to, at least partially, sidestep US sanctions and drain Iraq of its wealth.

Iran is happy to escalate against the United States within Iraq’s borders because Tehran does not care about Iraqi lives. To that end, it mobilised its Shia jihadist politicians and militants, allowing radical clerics such as Muqtada al-Sadr to drop their act of being Iraqi nationalists opposed to foreign influence and lobby directly on behalf of the Iranian occupation.

Al-Sadr called for a “million-man march” for January 24 to push the departure of US forces from Iraq. What was conspicuously absent from those protests was a demand for the departure of Iran and its proxies that have carried out rocket attacks not only against US forces but also against sites in Saudi Arabia, as in the attacks on Riyadh’s oil infrastructure last summer.

No one should be surprised by the lack of demands for Iran to leave Iraq. After all, the protests were endorsed and supported by two of Iran’s top flunkies in the country, US-designated terrorist Qais Khazali and leader of the Badr Organisation and former cabinet minister Hadi al-Amiri.

What this does do, however, is expose the Tehran-sponsored axis in Iraq and allows both international actors and grass-roots activists represented by the protest movement that has been active since October to take action to hold them to account.

This is crucial because failure to do so would allow them to further Iran’s agenda on Iraqi soil, with potentially grave and tragic consequences for the Iraqi people who deserve more than to be pawns in Iran’s games and regional ambitions.

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