Dhaka, Bangladesh
Struggle in Iraq

What Other Say

Struggle in Iraq

Supporters of the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force and Iraq’s Hezbollah brigades attend the funeral of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani (portrait) and Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (portrait) in Baghdad’s district of al-Jadriya, in Baghdad’s high-security Green Zone, on January 4, 2020. Thousands of Iraqis chanting “Death to America” joined the funeral procession for Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, both killed in a US air strike. The cortege set off around Kadhimiya, a Shiite pilgrimage district of Baghdad, before heading to the Green Zone government and diplomatic district where a state funeral was to be held attended by top dignitaries. In all, 10 people — five Iraqis and five Iranians — were killed in Friday morning’s US strike on their motorcade just outside Baghdad airport. Geopolitics can be quirky. Seventeen years after the Anglo-US invasion of Iraq, the struggle between the US and Iran for influence in Iraq has begun as 2020 unfolds. If the ferment is not defused anytime soon, it could well dominate the international narrative in the New Year. The siege of the US embassy in Baghdad by pro-Iran militants has come to a merciful end and remarkably swift has been the response of the Pentagon. The day-long siege has been followed by a spectacular show of force that is bound to be greeted with a sense of shock and awe in Tehran. No fewer than 750 airborne troops will be deployed in the region immediately, with more to follow in the next few days. Up to 3,000 soldiers are reportedly being prepared to move out to the Middle East, adding to the 14,000 sent there since May in an effort to counter Iran. The renewed presence of US boots on the ground in a volatile swathe of the world might arguably steel the resolve of President Hassan Rouhani and the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamanei, in matters nuclear, indeed the core issue in the US-Iran conflict. Donald Trump has warned that Tehran would “pay a big price” for any US lives lost or damage to US property. This deployment is a precautionary action and mirrors the US praxis to “protect our people and interests anywhere they are found around the world.” The US has expressed dismay that Iraqi security forces had made no effort to stop the militiamen and their supporters from entering Baghdad’s Green Zone where the US embassy is situated. The inaction was in marked contrast to their brutal treatment of anti-government and anti-Iranian protests in Baghdad and across the country, which broke out in October. —The statesman

Share |