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International Armed Conflict Back to Iraq | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A U.S. soldier watches as a statue of Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein falls in central Baghdad, April 9, 2003. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

U.S. President Donald Trump criticized his predecessor Barack Obama several times for squandering three trillion dollars to build an allied Iraq and leaving the country an easy target for the Iranians.

Instead of assuring Trump, Iranian authorities indirectly sent Trump indirect threatening messages through giving orders to one of its militias in Iraq “Harakat al-Nujaba” to launch missiles in order to show off its’ power. Al-Nujaba is one of the militias that can target neighboring countries and is similar to the Yemeni Houthis that are also used by Iran to bomb Saudi Arabia with Iranian-funded missiles.

The ultimate danger of Iran laying its hands over Iraq affects Iraqis themselves first more than the Gulf and the region.

Iran’s main objective is to take over Iraq, the second richest country in the region, in order to fund its military and economic needs. During the past six years, Iran has transformed Iraq into an Iranian military base from where it wages its wars in Syria and threatens Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) brags that foreign military actions in Syria and Iraq haven’t impinge on the Iranian treasury any additional cost because it depends on the Iraqi treasury, which has become IRGC financial portfolio and ruled by pro-Iran groups, especially after marginalizing the powers of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

A number of officials from Trump’s administration have served in Iraq previously and are familiar with the role of the Iranian regime there.

What to expect from Trump’s administration in the battle regarding the Iranians in Baghdad?

It is very unlikely for this administration to send military forces to Iraq, but some measures will be taken to limit Iran’s role. Most probably the U.S. administration will hold the Iraqi government responsible and will be given tough choices. It might also reactivate the role of U.S.-pro forces such as Kurds to achieve a balance of power with Iran. Plus, it will push opposing Sunni and Shi’ite national forces to reconsider the Civil State project that was neglected by Obama.

The question is not about what Trump can do to end the Iranian takeover of Iraq, but what the region can do to support national forces there. Terrible failures occurred after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Countries of the region refused the U.S. call to build an Iraqi national regime.

When some of these countries, including the Gulf, left Iraq, Iran seized the opportunity to be the sole regional force to offer cooperation with Americans to manage the new Iraq.

At the same time, Iran and Assad regime in Syria were supporting operations of the so-called Iraqi resistance and al-Qaeda to kick out the U.S. military forces from there. Tehran succeeded in its dual project: cooperation and conspiracy, specially after the arrival of Obama who found that Iran has influence in Iraq and hence chose to communicate with the Iranians rather than confront them.

The current US leadership in the White House, along with Defense and intelligence authorities, that have worked previously in Iraq are aware that Iran was behind the war on its troops in Iraq, including al-Qaeda.They are also familiar with Iran’s way of managing battles through using local forces such as the so-called Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas and Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine in Gaza, Fatah al-Islam in Lebanon and a number of al-Qaeda organizations in Syria and Iraq as well as Houthis in Yemen.

Therefore, I believe that confrontations are now more likely than ever in Iraq and elsewhere. These confrontations are a natural result for Obama’s policy that allowed the Iranian regime to expand in the region until it became a threat to the moderate countries including Egypt, Turkey, Jordan and the Gulf; not to mention the American interests and international peace.