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Iraq in October, 2023

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October 3, 2023

  1. Iraqi President Calls on Turkey to Respect Sovereignty Amid Airspace Violations (Al Hadath). Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid calls for a security agreement with Turkiye, citing daily airspace violations and civilian casualties. Rashid emphasizes the need for Turkiye to respect Iraq’s sovereignty, particularly in the Kurdistan region.
  2. Iraqi Prime Minister Attends Expo Qatar 2023 (Shafaq News). Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa Al-Sudani attends Expo Qatar 2023 in Doha, a first-of-its-kind event centered on gardening, climate change, and desertification. The expo offers Iraq an opportunity to gain insights and form international partnerships in agricultural development and combating desertification.
  3. Iraq Submits Security Report to Iran (Iraqi News). Iraq’s National Security Advisor Qasim al-Araji led a delegation to Tehran to deliver a joint report from Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government on the status of Iranian Kurdish opposition groups near the border. The visit aims to discuss the implementation of a security agreement between Iraq and Iran concerning these groups. Iran has previously threatened military action if these forces are not disarmed and moved away from its borders.
  4. Iraqi Christian Leaders Seek International Probe into Hamdaniyah Fire (Al Hurra). Christian religious figures in northern Iraq are calling for an international investigation into the Hamdaniyah fire that killed over 100 people. Father Boutros Shito, who lost family members in the fire, insists the incident was intentional, contradicting the Interior Ministry’s claim that it was accidental. The tragedy has intensified concerns about the dwindling Christian population in Iraq, which has faced persecution and a decline in numbers since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

October 4, 2023

  1. Iranian Military Delegation in Kurdistan to Discuss Security Deal with Baghdad (Kurdistan 24). An Iranian military delegation visited Kurdistan to discuss the implementation of a security agreement between Baghdad and Tehran aimed at moving Kurdish-Iranian militant groups away from the borders. The visit follows recent trips by Iraqi and Kurdish security officials to Tehran and comes during a UN-backed dialogue. Iran has threatened to resume drone and artillery attacks if the militant groups are not moved by September 19.

October 5, 2023

  1. Baghdad and Erbil Form Joint Brigades to Control Disputed Areas (Sharq Awsat). Major General Mardan Jawshin announced the formation of two joint brigades comprising Iraqi army and Peshmerga forces to control disputed areas between Erbil and Baghdad. This move follows a similar agreement to control the Iraqi-Iranian border and aims to address security gaps, combat terrorism, and improve coordination between the two sides. The decision comes amid ongoing tensions and financial constraints.

October 6, 2023

  1. Macron to Visit Iraq Amid Regional Tensions. French President Emmanuel Macron is set to visit Iraq, a move seen as France’s attempt to strengthen its diplomatic ties in the region (Iraqi News). 
  2. Iraq Central Bank Bans US Dollar Transactions to Limit Financial Crimes, Evade Iran Sanctions. Starting January 1, 2024, the Central Bank of Iraq will prohibit cash withdrawals and transactions in US dollars as part of an effort to curb financial crimes and evade US sanctions on Iran. The move is also aimed at reducing the country’s dependence on the dollar, and comes after the US took action against 14 Iraqi banks for illegal dollar use (Al Jazeera).

October 10, 2023

  1. Iran-Backed Militias Warn U.S. Against Involvement in Israel Conflict. Following U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s show of force in support of Israel, Iran-backed militias in Iraq, including Sayyid Al-Shuhada’ Brigades, stated that any direct U.S. involvement would make American interests in the region “legitimate targets.” The militias emphasized that such an action would eliminate all “red lines,” promising a tenfold response to each U.S. strike (MEMRI).
  2. Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Sudani in Moscow for Talks with Putin. Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa Al-Sudani has embarked on an official visit to Moscow, Russia. His visit includes meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, scheduled for October 10 and 11, with various working discussions during his stay (Baghdad Today).

October 11, 2023

  1. Badr Organization Threatens U.S. Interests Over Israel Support. Hadi Al-Amiri, leader of Iraq’s Iran-backed Badr Organization, warns of targeting American interests if the U.S. intervenes in support of Israel in the Gaza conflict. The statement comes after the U.S. pledged additional ammunition to Israel and the deployment of an aircraft carrier to the eastern Mediterranean (Al Nahar).
  2. Iraqi PM Al-Sudani Holds Talks with Russian President Putin in Moscow.  During his official visit to Moscow, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. They discussed bilateral relations, cooperation in energy and oil industries, and regional issues, including the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories. Al-Sudani urged Russia and UN Security Council members to take action to halt attacks in Palestine, while Putin emphasized the historical ties between the two countries and potential for constructive energy cooperation. Putin also noted efforts to de-escalate tensions between Palestine and Israel (Iraqi News). 
  3. Iran-Backed Iraqi Judge Confirms Washington D.C. Visit. Iraq’s top judge Faiq Zidan, who issued an arrest warrant for former U.S. President Donald Trump over the killing of Iranian Qassem Soleimani, confirmed a Washington D.C. visit. The trip, initially shrouded in confusion, was postponed due to current war conditions. It remains unclear if Zidan will meet Department of Justice officials during the visit (Fox News).

October 12, 2023

  1. Ali al-Sistani and Iraqi Leaders Call for Global Action Against Israeli Actions in Gaza. Leading religious authority in Iraq, Ali al-Sistani, along with Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa Al-Sudani and other Iraqi officials, have called for international intervention against Israel’s actions in Gaza. Al-Sistani emphasized the need for the world to prevent ongoing brutality, while Al-Sudani warned of a dangerous escalation if bombings continue. The statements come after widespread support in Iraq for the Palestinian cause.
  2. Iraqi Prime Minister Urges Russian Intervention in Israel-Gaza Conflict. In a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa Al-Sudani called for Russia to use its UN Security Council position to halt Israeli strikes in Palestine. Putin criticized U.S. policy in the Middle East and emphasized the need for an independent Palestinian state. The meeting also covered bilateral relations, including energy cooperation (Elaph). 
  3. Iraqi PM Announces Resumption of Oil Exports via Turkish Port at Russian Energy Forum. Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa Al-Sudani stated at the Russian Energy Week Forum that Iraq is set to resume oil exports through Turkey’s Ceyhan port. The move comes after a halt in exports due to an International Arbitration Court decision and a recent earthquake in Turkey. Al-Sudani indicated that an agreement is near, aligning with Iraq’s OPEC+ commitments (Kurdistan 24).

October 13, 2023

  1. Northern Iraq’s oil exports halt causes $7 billion losses. The Association of the Petroleum Industry of Kurdistan (APIKUR) reported that Iraq incurred a $7 billion loss after the suspension of oil exports from northern Iraq through the Iraqi-Turkish oil pipeline in March. Turkiye suspended exports following an International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) arbitration decision, where Turkiye was obliged to pay $1.5 billion in compensation to Baghdad for oil exports by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) without federal permission from 2014 to 2018. This suspension adversely affected Iraq’s government, the KRG, and international oil companies and impacted employees and local residents dependent on northern Iraq’s oil operations (Iraqi News).

October 16, 2023

Expert Analysis: The ongoing and relentless Turkish airstrikes persist in the Kurdistan region, undermining Iraq’s sovereignty. Iraq’s issuance of multiple arrest warrants against Iraqi officials after the disappearance of a substantial sum of money underscores the pervasive corruption engulfing the country. Furthermore, the capture of five ISIS members indicates the ongoing resurgence of ISIS and the failure of proactive and preventive social and security measures, despite purported American support in this matter. Russia’s exploration of energy collaboration with Iraq and Iran poses new challenges to American interests in the region. Saudi Arabia’s decision to establish a car production plant in Iraq signifies the country’s expanding economic potential, an area the United States could benefit from if explored further.  

Nine Areas in Iraq, Struck by Turkiye During Ongoing Operations. Since last Monday, Turkish airstrikes have targeted multiple areas in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, including Soran, Sidkan, Qandil, Kani Masi, Al-Zab, Amadiyah, Zakho, and surrounding regions. A recent statement by the Kurdistan Region’s Counter-Terrorism Service reported a Turkish drone strike in the Amadiya district of Dohuk Governorate, resulting in the death of a prominent leader and two companions. These ongoing operations have led to the deaths of hundreds of Kurdistan Workers’ Party militants and the destruction of their headquarters and weapons stores, according to the Turkish Ministry of Defense.

Iraq Issues 34 Arrest Warrants for Missing 120 Billion Dinars. Grappling with its own turmoil, after the disappearance of 120 Billion Iraqi Dinars, Iraq’s Federal Integrity Commission announced issuing 34 arrest and summon warrants against former members of the House of Representatives, ministers, two former and one current governor in addition to eleven general directors of governorate councils.  

Iraqi Forces Capture 5 ISIS Members in Nineveh. Iraq’s Joint Operations Command announced the arrest of 5 ISIS members in Nineveh Governorate. The detainees, apprehended by intelligence units specialized in counterterrorism, confessed to their affiliation with ISIS and receiving money for their activities. They will face legal proceedings under Iraqi law.

Russia Explores Energy Collaboration with Iraq and Iran, While Iraq Expands Economic Horizons. Russia is making strategic moves in the Middle East, considering joint energy projects with Iraq and Iran. In Iraq, the Ministry of Oil recently signed energy contracts with the UAE’s Crescent Petroleum and is in discussions with Russia’s Kazpromneft for potential joint projects, enhancing energy prospects. Meanwhile, in Iran, talks are underway for gas exports to alleviate the country’s winter gas shortage. These agreements signify a shift in regional energy dynamics, providing economic benefits and diversifying energy partners for Iraq and Iran. Iraq, on the other hand, is making significant strides on multiple economic fronts. The country is gearing up to establish an advanced car production plant for renowned German brands Mercedes-Benz and MAN Truck & Bus in collaboration with Saudi Arabia, promising both economic development and regional cooperation.

October 17, 2023

  1. Iran and Allies Coordinate with Hamas in New Operations Room. Reports indicate that Iran-aligned militias are collaborating with Hamas through a newly established “joint operations room.” This initiative also involves fighters from Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. An Iraqi faction leader speculates that the Israeli military has delayed ground operations due to anticipated retaliation from this multi-national resistance group. While Iranian officers are said to be orchestrating the activities, some believe that Iran’s main focus is on a “media war,” although counter-operations against Israel have not been ruled out (Sharq Awsat).
  2. Iranian-Omani Economic Cooperation Accelerates After Billions Transferred from Iraq to Iran via Oman. During a meeting at the annual International Monetary Fund and World Bank event in Marrakech, Mohammad Reza Farzin, the Governor of the Central Bank of Iran, and Tahir bin Salim Al Amri, his Omani counterpart, discussed accelerating the utilization of funds transferred from Iraq to Oman. Both parties emphasized the need to promptly employ these funds for business purposes to strengthen economic collaboration between Iran and Oman. Oman reaffirmed its dedication to financial and banking partnerships, particularly in regard to the transferred Iranian funds, highlighting the significance of broadening bilateral economic relations (Al Iraq News).

October 18, 2023

  1. Iraqi Faction Deploys 5,000 Fighters to Israeli Border. An Iraqi armed faction, Al-Waad Al-Sadiq, announced the deployment of 5,000 fighters to the borders of Israel, with an additional 10,000 on standby. The Secretary-General, Muhammad Al-Tamimi, stated that these forces are ready to enter the battle in Gaza. This comes alongside details of a drone attack targeting the American Ain al-Asad base in western Iraq. Two drones were intercepted, and heightened security measures have been implemented at the base. The developments follow an Israeli strike on a hospital in Gaza, escalating tensions in the region (Elaph).
  2. Iraqi PM Al-Sudani Invited by Sisi for Emergency Summit on Gaza Crisis. Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani has received an official invitation from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for an emergency summit in Cairo. The summit aims to discuss the ongoing situation in Gaza and the attacks against Palestinians, gathering various Arab and regional leaders. Last updated on October 17, 2023 (Iraqi News). 
  3. Iraq Announces Three-Day National Mourning for Gaza Hospital Attack Victims. Iraq declares three days of national mourning to honor victims of a deadly attack on a Gaza hospital. Iraqi PM Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani urges unity and a moment of silence, while calling for a UN Security Council resolution to halt the aggression. The attack killed at least 500 people (Bas News).

October 19, 2023

  1. Iraqi Parliament Receives Request to Expel American Ambassador Over Gaza Crisis. Representative Alaa Al-Rikabi, supported by House of Representatives members, has submitted a parliamentary request for the expulsion of the American ambassador from Iraq. The move is in protest against perceived “heinous crimes” by the Zionist entity in Gaza. The request labels the ambassador as “unwelcome” (Iraqi News). 
  2. Al-Sadr Warns Against Transferring Palestinians to Anbar. Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Sadrist movement, cautioned against what he referred to as a “malicious idea” of relocating Gazans to Iraq, particularly Anbar Governorate. He rejected any support for this idea and emphasized that neither the U.S. nor Israel could determine the fate of Anbar or other regions. Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa Al-Sudani renewed Iraq’s support for Palestinian rights and called for a unified mechanism to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza, stressing the need to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe in the region (Sharq Awsat).

October 20, 2023

  1. Iraqis Head to Jordan Border Following al-Sadr’s Call for Gaza Support. Hundreds of Iraqis have moved towards the Jordanian border in response to Muqtada al-Sadr’s call for a sit-in at the Palestinian border to lift the Gaza siege. The leader of the Sadr movement in Iraq urged Islamic and Arab communities to peacefully gather until the blockade on Gaza is lifted. The move comes amid ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinian factions, resulting in thousands of casualties (Mustaqila).

October 23, 2023

Analysis: The recent increase in attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq, notably the drone strikes on Ain al-Asad airbase, highlights Iran’s strategy of using proxy groups to exert influence and escalate tensions. While avoiding direct military confrontation, Iran remains relentless in its aggression, as seen in the frequency of these attacks and the U.S. decision to evacuate non-essential staff. This indirect approach allows Iran to engage without the diplomatic and military costs of direct involvement. The situation is further complicated by the presence of the Islamic State and internal tensions between the Peshmerga and the Iraqi army. Additionally, the rising drug crisis in Kurdistan suggests a broader strategy on Iran’s part, potentially implicating Tehran in drug trafficking operations in Iraq. This serves as another proxy method to destabilize the region and divert attention and resources, thereby weakening U.S. and coalition efforts. In summary, Iran’s multi-faceted use of proxy warfare and covert operations in Iraq presents a persistent and complex threat that requires a comprehensive response.

Intercepts:

Drone Strike Targets Ain al-Asad Airbase in Iraq. Ain al-Asad airbase in Iraq, hosting US and international forces, repelled a drone attack by the “Islamic Resistance in Iraq.” No casualties or damage were reported. This incident is one of five attacks on bases used by the US-led coalition in the past week. Tensions in the region have escalated, with “Islamic Front for the Iraqi Resistance” (JAMI) claiming responsibility for the latest drone strike (Bas News).

U.S. Mandates Staff Evacuation from Iraq Facilities. The United States has mandated the evacuation of non-essential staff from its embassy in Baghdad and consulate in Erbil, citing heightened security threats. Katyusha missiles targeted the Ain al-Asad air base, housing American and international forces, while two drones were intercepted near the base in Anbar Governorate, western Iraq (Khaleej Online).

Iraqi Forces Capture “Notorious” IS Fighter in Kirkuk Operation. The Iraqi Ministry of Defense’s Intelligence and Security Directorate apprehended a “notorious” member of the Islamic State in Kirkuk’s Dibis district. This arrest follows the recent capture of IS members in Nineveh and other provinces as part of expanding anti-terror operations. IS maintains a dispersed presence in Iraq, often hiding in marshlands, caves, and remote areas, particularly in the disputed Kurdish territories, where security challenges persist since 2017 (Bas News).

Kurdistan Region Confronts Drug Crisis in the Midst of Security Concerns. The Kurdistan Region grapples with a surging drug crisis, intensifying security and political tensions with Popular Mobilization Forces. Prime Minister Masrour Barzani warns of a grave threat from drug trafficking, while officials outline how drug mafias exploit the region’s geography. Recent months have seen heightened tensions, hindering relations. Accusations include obstructing the Sinjar Agreement and supporting armed groups, impacting international routes and border security. Security sources hint at a broader strategy behind the drug influx, potentially stoking long-term regional conflicts (Al Nahar). 

Clashes Erupt Between Peshmerga and Iraqi Army Over Abandoned PKK Outposts. Sunday saw clashes between Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi army in Makhmur as tensions rose over military outposts previously held by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on Qarachugh mountain. Peshmerga requested control of these outposts within their territory, leading to violence when the Iraqi army refused to vacate. Negotiations are ongoing to resolve the situation. The PKK recently left Qarachugh mountain after UN pressure to evacuate the vicinity of a Makhmur camp (Bas News).

October 24, 2023

  1. Iraqi PM Orders Crackdown on Attacks Against Coalition Bases. Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa al-Sudani has directed security forces to identify and apprehend those responsible for attacks on military bases hosting international advisors. The move comes during a rise in drone attacks on these bases, launched in support of Palestinians. The government emphasized that the safety of these bases is non-negotiable, even as it condemned Israeli actions in Gaza. U.S. Central Command has denied reports of American casualties in recent attacks (Sharq Awsat).
  2. Intensified Counterterrorism Efforts in Iraq Yield Positive Results. Iraq’s Counter-Terrorism Service has ramped up operations against ISIS, focusing on intelligence-driven, tactical missions. Their efforts have led to the elimination of 45 terrorists and the capture of 110, including key ISIS leaders. This coordinated approach aims to eradicate security threats, enhancing Iraq’s stability (Sky News Arabia).

October 25, 2023

  1. Iraq Seeks Air Defense Systems Over Fears of Israeli Attacks. Iraqi officials are actively pursuing air defense systems to protect against potential Israeli attacks as the current confrontation escalates. Concerned that Iraq could face a fate similar to Syria, they cite delays from the US in providing promised air defense support. Russia, China, and even Iran are considered as potential suppliers, with French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Baghdad expected to play a role in negotiations.Iraq aims to enhance its airspace security to safeguard against violations due to regional instability. (The New Arab).
  2. Iraq Allocates $2.3 Million for Gaza Support. The Iraqi government has allocated 3 billion dinars (approximately $2.3 million) to provide medicines and food support for Gaza residents. This initiative aims to assist those affected by ongoing attacks, in accordance with Iraq’s 2023-2025 federal budget law (Al Iraq News).

October 26, 2023

  1. Turkish Military Conducts Airstrikes on PKK Targets in Northern Iraq. The Turkish Ministry of Defense announced that its air force conducted airstrikes against PKK terrorist targets in various locations in northern Iraq. The strikes, which targeted caves, hideouts, and warehouses, resulted in the destruction of 19 targets. The operation aimed to eliminate senior terrorist leaders while avoiding harm to civilians, historical sites, and friendly forces (Anadolu Agency).
  2. Iraq Launches Major Operation Against Drug Trade. Iraq’s Ministry of Interior announced the launch of “Operation Deterrence II,” the country’s largest effort to combat the growing drug trade, which is seen as a major threat similar to terrorism. The operation resulted in the arrest of 16,399 individuals involved in drug crimes, including 9,600 who had received death sentences or life imprisonment. It led to the seizure of various drugs, firearms, and explosives. The operation killed 13 drug dealers, injured 11, and caused casualties among security forces. This initiative reflects the seriousness of tackling the drug problem in Iraq, affecting both young people and society as a whole (Sharq Awsat).
  3. Militant Group Targets Ain al-Asad Base with Drone. On Thursday, Iraqi factions announced the targeting of Ain al-Asad base in western Anbar. A group known as the “Islamic Resistance Movement in Iraq” stated that its fighters used a drone to directly strike Ain al-Asad, successfully hitting their targets (Al-Nahar).

October 27, 2023

  1. Muqtada al-Sadr Calls for Closure of US Embassy in Iraq Over Gaza Conflict Support. Muqtada al-Sadr has called for the closure of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad in protest of what he sees as unwavering U.S. support for Israel during the Gaza conflict. He emphasized the need to protect diplomatic missions in Iraq from disruptive militias and hinted at further actions if the government and parliament do not respond. Tensions over U.S. support for Israel have led to attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria by pro-Iranian militias (Rudaw). US Embassy in Kuwait Reduces Activity because of similiar Threats. The US embassy in Kuwait has scaled back its activities at American military bases due to threats from Iraqi armed factions, particularly the “True Promise” brigades, who have threatened to target American military bases in Kuwait in response to Israeli actions in Gaza. The embassy has urged its citizens to remain vigilant (Iraqi News). 
  2. Islamic Resistance Claims Responsibility for Targeting US Base in Iraq. Islamic Resistance in Iraq” announced it targeted the American “Ain al-Assad” base in western Iraq with a drone, claiming responsibility for the attack. This comes after escalating tensions and multiple recent attacks on US and coalition forces in Iraq and Syria, attributed to pro-Iranian militias. The Pentagon has accused “militias supported by Iran” of carrying out these attacks, while maintaining troops in the region to counter the resurgence of ISIS (Russia Arabic).
  3. Iraqi Security Forces Capture Seven ISIS Fighters in Multiple Operations. Iraq’s security forces, in collaboration with the Directorate of Military Intelligence, captured seven ISIS fighters in ambush operations spanning across Baghdad, Anbar, Nineveh, and Salahaddin provinces. This follows the recent apprehension of nine individuals with suspected ties to the Islamic State in various locations. ISIS maintains a dispersed presence, often hiding in marshlands and remote areas, especially in disputed Kurdish territories like Kirkuk (Bas News). 
  4. Iraqi Media Refers to General Linked to Fallujah as “Iraq’s Butcher” Sent to Assist Israel. Iraqi media has raised concerns as General James Glenn, often associated with the Fallujah operations, is being deployed to support Israel. His reputation in Iraq has led to him being labeled as “Iraq’s Butcher.” Additionally, the U.S. plans to send advanced air defense systems and military advisors skilled in street warfare to aid in strategizing for an anticipated ground assault on Gaza. The involvement of military  (advisors drawing from the Battle of Fallujah in 2004 has sparked controversy due to the use of white phosphorus, resulting in severe casualties in Fallujah (Mustaqila). 
  5. Karbala Tribal Conference Focuses on Combating Drugs and Enforcing State Control. A tribal conference convened in Karbala, led by the commander of Karbala operations and the governorate police, with the aim of promoting national values and supporting law enforcement. Discussions centered on confining weapons to the state, the role of tribal sheikhs, and addressing random shootings. Additionally, the conference emphasized the importance of combating the drug scourge in society, highlighting its significance in parallel with counter-terrorism efforts. The event saw the participation of high-ranking officials, including commanders, intelligence, counter-terrorism, and tribal leaders from the governorate (Mustaqila). 
  6. Iraqi Protesters Halt Oil Exports to Jordan in Solidarity with Gaza. Iraqi demonstrators, primarily from the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), staged a protest at the main border crossing with Jordan, preventing oil tanker trucks from exporting Iraqi oil to Jordan. The protesters, outraged by Israeli attacks on Gaza, refused to allow oil shipments to countries with peace agreements with Israel. While approximately 70 trucks carrying crude oil previously passed through the border daily, the protesters permitted the passage of people and other goods into Jordan. This action was part of their solidarity campaign with Gaza during the ongoing conflict (Iraqi News). 

October 30, 2023

Iraq’s Shift: Challenging U.S., Aligning with Iran. The refusal by Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa al-Sudani to host U.S. F-16s is a clear indicator of Iraq’s alignment with Iran, particularly in the context of the Gaza conflict. This decision goes beyond diplomatic symbolism; it’s a strategic move that underscores Iraq’s geopolitical orientation. The pursuit of air defense systems by Iraq indicates a heightened sense of vulnerability to potential Israeli attacks, especially in the context of escalating regional tensions. The fact that Iraq is considering Russia, China, and even Iran as potential suppliers for these systems reveals a diversification of its security partnerships and a willingness to move beyond traditional U.S. military support. This is a significant development that could alter the balance of power in the region. Iraq’s allocation of $2.3 million for humanitarian support to Gaza is another noteworthy move. While the amount may seem modest, the gesture itself is politically significant. It aligns Iraq more closely with the Palestinian cause and, by extension, with the broader axis of resistance in the region, which includes Iran. Muqtada al-Sadr’s call to close the U.S. embassy in Baghdad adds an internal political dimension to the challenges facing U.S. policy. Given al-Sadr’s substantial influence over Iraqi politics, his stance could catalyze a broader movement to sever ties with the U.S., especially in light of American support for Israel. The Iraqi government’s preference for diplomatic solutions and humanitarian aid to Gaza is at odds with the more militant posture of armed factions within the country. These factions are aligned with Iran‘s broader strategic objectives, which currently appear to be confrontational, particularly towards U.S. interests in the region. The drone attacks on U.S. bases in Syria by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq and the Popular Mobilization Forces are part of a calculated “war of attrition.” These aren’t sporadic acts but a coordinated campaign, signaling a long-term commitment to confront U.S. forces.

October 31, 2023

  1. Rockets Target Iraq Air Base Hosting U.S. Forces. Four Katyusha rockets were fired at Ain al-Asad air base in Iraq, where U.S. and international forces are stationed. The source of the attack is unclear, and it follows increased threats from Iranian-aligned groups in Iraq since the Israel-Gaza conflict began. The U.S. has warned Iran and its proxies against interfering in the conflict (Iran International).
  2. Iraq’s Quest for Air Defense Systems. Iraq is actively seeking air defense systems from various countries to deter potential Israeli airstrikes and protect its airspace, with concerns over spillover from regional conflicts and unfulfilled US promises. The move reflects Iraq’s commitment to safeguarding its territory and avoiding a fate similar to Syria’s continuous Israeli strikes (New Arab).

 

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