Iraq, a playground for Iran and the US

Washington once again points the finger at Tehran as the instigator of ongoing attacks on US interests in Iraq
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PHOTO/AP  -   US Army soldiers at a joint base with the Iraqi army, south of Mosul, Iraq

Although the situation in Iraq has improved considerably after the military defeat of Daesh, the country is still far from being stable and free of violent situations: from attacks by the terrorist remnants, who have returned to their more classic activities once they have lost most of their territorial control, and the actions of pro-Iranian militias against the interests of other countries in Iraq, especially the United States.

In addition, the country has faced significant internal political instability, making the threats and challenges facing the country, which are not few, more difficult to address. Despite this, Iraqi forces continue in their efforts to fight terrorism and develop security structures to stabilise the country so that politics can play its role.

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AFP PHOTO / HO / KURDISTAN 24 - An image taken from Kurdistan 24 television channel on February 19, 2021 shows damage after a rocket attack a few days ago targeted a military compound inside Erbil airport that houses foreign troops deployed as part of a U.S.-led coalition

Missile attacks and suicide bombings have unfortunately become part of everyday Iraqi life. In just ten days, there have been three attacks on the US presence in Iraq. In the first, five US citizens were injured and a foreign contractor was killed in a rocket attack on a military base near Erbil airport in northern Iraq. 

In the second, one more was injured after four rockets hit the Balad air base north of the Iraqi capital. And in the last, on Monday, although this time without injuries, several rockets hit Baghdad's Green Zone, where the international diplomatic presence and some institutions, including the US embassy, are located and where there is a large presence of security forces.

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AFP/ AHMAD AL-RUBAYE - Members of Iraqi forces during a search in the Trmiyah area, 35 kilometres (20 miles) north of Baghdad, on February 20, 2021, after clashes with Daesh group fighters

Although the new US administration is trying to be more diplomatically cautious, especially in its rhetoric, than its predecessor, Iran's support for some of the militias in the region is evident. Although the death of Qassem Soleimani just over a year ago had a major impact on the organisation of this network of militias that defend Iranian interests in several countries where stability is lacking.

That is why on this occasion, and despite the delicate relationship with Iran due to the tension over the nuclear agreement, US diplomatic spokesman Ned Price has been firm: the United States is considering holding Iran responsible for the attacks it suffers in Iraq, as long as they are militias with links to the Ayatollahs' regime. However, the White House has declined to take any further steps in this direction, and no response is planned for the time being.

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AP/NICHOLAS KAMM - State Department spokesman Ned Price during the daily press briefing at the State Department, Monday, Feb. 22. 2021 in Washington

The United States, along with other European countries such as France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, have condemned the successive rocket attacks in Iraq, which makes it difficult for the United States to lift sanctions, and which could be understood in Tehran as a free hand to continue encouraging violence in third countries. Blinken expressed his support for Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Khadimi in the wake of the attack in Iraqi Kurdistan, and expressed US support for the stabilisation of the country.