Rebecca Grant: Iranian-backed attack on US embassy in Iraq increases risk of US-Iran military conflict

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President Trump has encountered many problems with Iran and Iraq so far, but on the last day of 2019 his problems worsened when dozens of Iranian-backed Shia militia members forcibly entered within the grounds of the United States Embassy in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. , started fires and caused other damage.

The militia, who eventually withdrew from the embassy compound, were part of a much larger group of several thousand demonstrating outside the embassy. They denounced the US airstrikes that killed two dozen members of an Iranian-backed militia and injured dozens more over the weekend.

Protesters chanted “Death to America”, threw stones and called for the withdrawal of the more than 5,000 US troops currently stationed in Iraq – a goal long sought by the anti-US regime from Iran. Protesters said they planned to stay outside the embassy.


Job One for the US Army provides security for Americans and the Embassy. Some 120 Marines were dispatched to the embassy to enhance security, and US gunships flew over the compound.

You can be sure Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper have presented an array of military options and that President Trump has been briefed and is aware of each one.

If necessary, US forces can and undoubtedly enforce calm in downtown Baghdad.

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Baghdad will not see a repeat of the attack on the US mission in Benghazi in 2012, when the US ambassador and three Americans were killed. Nor will we see a repeat of the 1979 attack on the United States Embassy in the Iranian capital of Tehran, when revolutionaries captured 52 Americans and held them hostage for 444 days.

It is, in fact, Iraq’s duty to protect the United States Embassy. President Trump made this clear on Twitter and in a call with Iraqi Prime Minister Abdel Abdul Mahdi, as have other senior US officials with their Iraqi counterparts.

In a tweet, Trump said “we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the embassy, ​​and we have been notified.” Trump later tweeted: “Iran will be held fully responsible for any lives lost or damage sustained at any of our facilities. They will pay a VERY BIG PRICE! This is not a warning, it is a threat. Good year!”

This is all happening because Iraq is infested with Iranian influence. The power of that influence was clear when initially Iraqi police and security forces remained inactive as the attack on the United States embassy in Baghdad began on Tuesday – just as Iran had planned.

The mob attacking the US Embassy was made up of members of an Iranian-backed terrorist group called Kataib Hezbollah, or KH for short, which is closely related to the strength of the Iranian Quds militia.

Iran has a hold over Iraq’s police and military response. And Iranian officers have carte blanche over much of the Iraqi state apparatus, the British Guardian newspaper reported in November after examining leaked Iraqi diplomatic cables published by The New York Times.

The Iraqi army has been carefully trained and supplied by the United States and other allies for years. Yet the failure of Iraqi forces to act against Iranian-backed militias in recent weeks has been similar to the paralysis that allowed ISIS to sweep the outskirts of Baghdad in the summer of 2014.

Iraq has lost control to the point that Iran can launch harassing attacks against US forces across the country. US troops in Iraq have been attacked 11 times in the past two months, according to the Pentagon. The attacks ranged from southern Mosul to near Kirkuk in the north and other places.

Trump had already waited weeks for Iraq to face these hostile acts.

The Iraqi military was unwilling or unable to strike KH Iran’s proxy gang, which launched more than 30 rockets at an Iraqi base where US forces were stationed on Saturday, killing one American and injuring four.


As Iraq could not cope, Trump endorsed Sunday’s strikes by the US Air Force’s F-15E Strike Eagles, hitting weapon caches linked to KH Iran’s proxy gang.

The airstrikes also help remind Iran that America is ready to take military action. Trump has been fairly restrained, forgoing a retaliatory strike after Iran downed a US Navy Global Hawk drone. Saudi Arabia also failed to retaliate after Iran hit the Saudi Aramco oil complex.

The crisis in Iraq has been on the boil since October, when Iraqis stepped up protests against government corruption and Iranian influence. Some 319 Iraqis were killed in protests from October to mid-November, according to an Iraqi parliament report.


In the long run, Iran’s guilt in the attack on the US embassy in Baghdad shows why Trump was right to impose maximum economic sanctions to put pressure on Iran, and why he insists on dismantling the network. Iranian terrorist as well as his nuclear ambitions.

The Trump administration will no doubt maintain the sanctions, but will be ready for military action if necessary.


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