The US Iraq game heats up, Iraq becomes the arena, stability is far away

 The US Iraq game heats up, Iraq becomes the arena, stability is far away

On January 4, thousands of mourners were buried in Baghdad, Iraq. Photo by Khalil Dawood (Xinhua News Agency)

At the beginning of the new year, the worlds powder keg in the Middle East is filled with a smell of gunpowder smoke.

Tensions between the United States and Iran have escalated as the United States launched air strikes in Iraq and killed the commander of the Iranian special forces, Kasim Sulaimani. As the front line of the contest between the two countries, the situation in Iraq is becoming increasingly chaotic. For this long turbulent country, stability and tranquility still seem far away.

Constant fighting and upgrading

The chaos that is fermenting in Iraq began at the end of 2019.

On December 27, 2019, the U.S. k-1 military base in northern Kirkuk, Iraq, was attacked by more than 30 rockets, resulting in the death of one U.S. contractor and the injury of four U.S. soldiers and two Iraqi security forces. The United States accused the attack of the Shiite armed Allah brigades supported by Iran.

Two days later, the U.S. military carried out air strikes on three targets of the Allah brigades in Iraq and two targets in Syria, killing and injuring dozens of people. Irans foreign ministry condemned the air strikes as terrorism for violating Iraqs territorial sovereignty and demanded that the U.S. troops withdraw from Iraq.

On December 31, 2019, many demonstrators gathered in front of the U.S. Embassy in Iraq to protest against the U.S. air strikes in Iraq. The scene was out of control, and protesters broke into the outer courtyard of the embassy and clashed with the guards. The demonstration continued until 1 January 2020. Later, the United States targeted Iran, saying it had planned an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, and said it would respond.

In the early morning of January 3, U.S. drones launched an air strike on Iraqs Baghdad International Airport, killing several people, including Qasim Sulaimani, commander of the Iranian special forces. The US embassy in Iraq was besieged again. Iran has vowed revenge.

The confrontation between the United States and Iran is escalating. As the first scene of the conflict, Iraq is in constant gunfire and turmoil.

On January 4, Iraqi Shiite militia group peoples mobilization organization was attacked again in the north of Baghdad, resulting in 6 deaths and 3 serious injuries. That night, the green zone and other places in the center of Baghdad, as well as a U.S. military base to the north of Baghdad, were attacked by artillery shells.

Iraqi interim Prime Minister adir Abdul Mahdi said the U.S. attack was a flagrant violation of Iraqs sovereignty and violated the terms of allowing U.S. forces to remain in Iraq, Russian website reported today. The U.S. military is based in Iraq to train Iraqi troops and combat extremist groups in the Islamic state. The attack could lead to an escalation of violence, a devastating war in Iraq and a proliferation in the region.

On 5 January, the national assembly of Iraq adopted a resolution calling on the government of Iraq to commit itself to ending the presence of any foreign forces on its territory and to prohibiting the use of Iraqi land, territorial waters and airspace by foreign forces for any reason.

According to the website of Der Spiegel, Iraq may become the most important stage of the conflict between the United States and Iran. On the one hand, the United States has recently increased its troops to Iraq; on the other hand, Iran will make every effort to force the Americans to withdraw from this neighboring country.

Internal division and external intervention

Since the outbreak of the Iraq war in 2003, the political situation in Iraq has been unstable.

For a long time, the government of Iraq has been weak, and the fighting among various factions has led to internal division, providing an opportunity for external forces to intervene. All factions also seek external support in order to strengthen their voice in the domestic political system. Whether the United States accuses Iran of infiltrating into Iraq or Iran accuses the United States of occupying Iraq for a long time, it is actually a game launched by external forces in Iraq. Wang Jin, an associate professor at the Middle East Institute of Northwest University, said in an interview with our reporter.

In 2018, the new Iraqi government came to power, and the situation did not fundamentally improve.

Sun Degang, a researcher at Fudan Universitys Institute of international studies, analyzed to our reporter that since the new Iraqi government came to power, it has tried to pursue a balanced policy and avoid choosing sides between the United States and Iran. However, Iraq is facing a serious development deficit and security deficit, with economic difficulties and unstable political situation, and has to rely on external assistance in economy and security, which provides opportunities for the United States, Iran, Saudi Arabia and other countries to expand their geopolitical influence in Iraq. Iraq has become another major geopolitical battleground after Syria, Libya and Yemen.

However, the recent Outcry between the United States and Iran in Iraq, especially the killing of Sulaimani by the U.S. military, still shocked the international community. Deutsche Welle quoted analysts as saying that the US militarys killing of Sulaimani not only dealt a heavy blow to Iran, but also wiped out all efforts to ease the situation in the Middle East. The Washington Post website also pointed out that the attack by the United States was a serious escalation of relations between Iran and the United States, which caused anxiety in the whole region.

In the past four years, the U.S. government has shrunk its forces from Iraq, Syria and other parts of the Middle East, while Iran has used the opportunity to fight against extremist organizations such as Islamic state and Al Qaeda to fill the power vacuum and expand its influence in Iraq, Yemen, Palestine and Syria. At present, the United States believes that Iraq is in danger of falling into Irans sphere of influence. Therefore, through targeted strikes, the United States intends to curb Irans military influence in Iraq and reintroduce Iraq into the United States alliance system in the Middle East. Sun Degang believes that the focus of the conflict between the United States and Iran is to fight for the dominant power in the Gulf region.

Rising risk and turbulence continue

According to Fars news agency of Iran, on the evening of January 5 local time, the Iranian government announced that it had entered the fifth and final stage of suspending the implementation of the Iranian nuclear agreement, abandoning the last key restriction in the Iranian nuclear agreement, namely the limit on the number of centrifuges.

Irans tough stance has raised concerns. Iran may take limited retaliatory measures, including supporting Shiite anti American forces such as the peoples mobilization organization in Iraq, supporting Hussein forces in Yemen, supporting the Bashar government in Syria to recover lost land, and supporting Hamas in Palestine against Israel. At the same time, Iran may engage in a firefight with Israel in southern Syria, or block the maritime oil transportation route in the Gulf region. Sun Degang said.

Iran is also likely to carry out cyber attacks on the United States, with potential targets including manufacturing facilities, oil and gas plants and transportation systems, the New York Times quoted senior U.S. cyber security officials and security experts as saying.

The US Defense Department said Wednesday it would send 3000 more soldiers to the Middle East. Britain, France, Germany and other NATO allies have called on the United States to exercise restraint. U.S. President trump said in a 3-day televised speech that the U.S. is taking action to stop a war, not start it.

According to Fars news agency of Iran, on January 4 local time, the chief of the general staff of the Iranian armed forces, abofazel Secchi, said: Americans must know that Iran will not rush to respond. We have the patience to think about and plan for a tough response to this kind of terrorist action in the United States.

In response to the US and Irans statement, sun Degang believes that at present, neither the US nor Iran want to trigger a war. Unless the US military base or the Israeli homeland is attacked, the US will not react strongly. However, with the escalation of the game between the two sides, there is an increase in the probability of firecrackers and violence, and the risk of local conflicts in the Middle East is also rising.

The city gate is on fire, which will bring disaster to the fish. Raja, member of the Egyptian Foreign Affairs Committee, pointed out that Iraq is gradually becoming the main battlefield of the game between the United States and Iran, which may lead to the situation in Iraq falling into the abyss.

Since the second half of 2019, affected by economic downturn, serious corruption, high unemployment and other factors, there have been many large-scale anti-government demonstrations in Iraq, with unstable political situation and social unrest. Today, the confrontation between the United States and Iran has added more variables to this already troubled country.

Social stability in Iraq may be far off. Wang Jin pointed out that on the one hand, the U.S. air strikes in Iraq without authorization may cause a wave of powerful anti American waves in Iraq, on the other hand, Iraq may become the front battlefield for Iran to take retaliatory measures against the United States.

Sun Degang also believes that in the future, Iraqs internal livelihood issues and the geopolitical competition of external powers are intertwined, which may lead to the internationalization and complexity of disputes between different factions in Iraq. Against this background, the difficulty of national reconciliation in Iraq will continue to increase.

At that time, the United States launched the Iraq war, leaving a mess that could not be cleaned up. Now, when will the long lost peace return to Iraq? The answer is still unknown.

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