In the past week, the US Embassy in Baghdad and the US Consulate in Basra, both came under rocket attacks, but thankfully no one was hurt. On Tuesday, the White House condemned these attacks, citing that they fit into a larger pattern of attacks by Shiite militants in Iraq, and now an Iraq expert has provided further insight.
Michael Knights from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said that these militants are always prepared to attack US facilities and have even built special “machines” to do so.
He said: “This doesn’t come out of the blue. This is their exact modus operandi. They have undertaken these kinds of attacks literally hundreds of times in the past.”
The difference is that this time, the US directed blame straight at the source of the attacks: Iran.
The White House statement read: “Iran did not act to stop these attacks by its proxies in Iraq, which it has supported with funding, training, and weapons. The United States will hold the regime in Tehran accountable for any attack that results in injury to our personnel or damage to United States Government facilities. America will respond swiftly and decisively in defence of American lives.”
This is just part of America’s overall pressure campaign on Iran, which gained traction after the US withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran in May. The campaign includes nuclear and non-nuclear sanctions on the country and a warning to others that they will also come under sanctions if they work with Iran. The idea: to shape Iran into a “normal country” that doesn’t support terrorism, interfere in regional politics, develop ballistic missiles, etc.
However, any Iran experts warn that the Regime is incapable of reform (but not of faking it for political gain) and the only way to turn Iran into a normal country is to support the Iranian people’s demand for regime change.
Iran is well known for its interference in other Middle Eastern countries, from supporting Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the Houthis in Yemen, and many more besides.
Ranj Alaaldin, an expert on Shia militias in Iraq at the Brookings Doha Center, said: “The largest, highly organized, resource-rich, battle-hardened and therefore the most powerful [Shiite militias] are Iranian proxies.”
Knights said: “[Iran is] a puppet master and a very effective one.”