Falling Into The Abyss: Iraq Can’t Escape Foreign Interventions

The sudden disinterest of the US in the region says a lot about its changing foreign policy priorities

Baghdad will wean itself from US dependency, but a noose will be placed around its neck by the resurgence of IS and the PMF.

Though the assassination of the Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani was expected, at least from the American and Israeli perspectives, to curb the Iranian influence in Iraq, Tehran-backed militias are witnessing unprecedented growth. Amidst President Joe Biden’s announcement of US withdrawal from Iraq by the end of this year, the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), originally formed to act as a hedge against the Islamic State (IS) with Iran’s support, are ramping up their attacks on US drones in Baghdad.

Whilst the government and the PMF broke ties since the defeat of IS, the Iraqi officials perceive these forces as a crucial buffer against US forces. Months ago, for instance, the Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, waved at the PMF troops during a June Parade, which signaled the paramilitaries’ recovery from the seatback dealt by the assassinations of Soleimani and the deputy commander of the forces Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis.

It was a message to those who tried to weaken and dismantle the PMF, including America,” Jaafar al-Husseini, the military spokesperson of Kataib Hezbollah said.”

The message is that the PMF is here to stay and that it’s developing in terms of equipment, training, and institutionalization,” Husseini told POLITICO in a rare interview in his Baghdad office, adorned with pictures of Soleimani, Mohandis, and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Ostensibly, Baghdad will wean itself from US dependency, but a noose will be placed around its neck by the resurgence of IS and the PMF. The sudden disinterest of the US in the region says a lot about its changing foreign policy priorities.

The two countries, namely Afghanistan and Iraq, which undoubtedly have been destroyed by the hands of American soldiers, are no longer at the center of attention. Admittedly, the intervention of the US in Iraq was not driven by fears of weapons of mass destruction. Instead, it was oil.

The forced democratization of Bush in Iraq brought more conflicts. Now after it tore the country apart, and encouraged the rise of militias, the US is shifting its attention elsewhere. But the rise of new threats like China and Russia won’t prevent the US from keeping its men in Iraq, to preserve its interests, without the military intervening there.

Though we have high expectations regarding the potential role of what’s described as a formidable alliance, compromising Cairo, Baghdad, and Amman, it’s too naïve to argue that Iran is willing to cease its intervention in Iraq even after the US ostensibly withdraws. Flanked by the PMF, and IS, among others, Iraq’s stability seems a long way off if not a faraway dream.

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