Iraqi academic Haider Shakir Khamis believes that the US presence is linked to regional balances in the region, but it inevitably constitutes one of the priorities of US policy in the last two decades.
Two years ago, the Iraqi scene witnessed the height of US-Iranian tension after the killing of Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Authority in Iraq, and the commander of the Iranian Quds Force, General Qassem Soleimani, in a US raid near Baghdad International Airport.
While the region was holding its breath, waiting for Iraq to turn into an arena of international conflict, Iran was satisfied with a symbolic response at the dawn of January 8, 2020, in the form of missile bursts targeting two American bases in Iraqi Kurdistan and western Kurdistan.
The Iranian response included the launch of more than 12 ballistic missiles, which caused severe damage to the Ain al-Assad base in western Anbar and the Harir base in Erbil in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and casualties among American soldiers.
The military and strategic expert, Eid Toufan, explains that the missiles that were used are of a Russian-made cruise type, and are equipped with an additional propelling charge that ensures them a long range at the expense of accuracy, which led to the fall of some of them in open areas near the two bases.
In his speech to Al-Jazeera Net, Toufan confirms that Iran targeted these two bases because it was aware of the presence of large numbers of American forces inside them, so it contented itself with this symbolic response and demanded calm and non-escalation. He adds that the US forces preferred not to respond, as they did not incur any losses, neither in equipment nor in people, according to Toufan.
The head of the Center for Political Thinking, Dr. Ihsan Al-Shammari, points out that the situation in Iraq would be more fragile if Washington responded to the Iranian strikes that targeted the Ain Al-Assad base and the Harir base in Erbil, and Iran’s military arms represented by the armed factions would turn Iraq into a land of open conflict with the United States.
Speaking to Al-Jazeera Net, Al-Shammari says that Washington realized the ineffectiveness of these strikes, and that the killing of Soleimani and Al-Muhandis is a very big event, and therefore you find that the Iranian response was not at the level that it could respond to.
Al-Shammari adds that the other reason Washington did not respond is that it did not want to engage in an open clash, and “through the assassination of Soleimani and Al-Muhandis, it sent very solid warning messages.”
He attributes the reasons for turning Iraq into an arena of liquidation between Washington and Tehran to the weakness of the current political class, and its dependence on the arms of the outside and representing agendas, and therefore this political class did not take the interest of Iraq into account, and did not work to neutralize the country from this conflict, but rather plunged into the conflict of axes.
Regarding the most prominent repercussions of the conflict that affected the Iraqi reality, Al-Shammari refers to the rise of arms at the expense of the state, the dominance of the external decision over the state’s decision, and the attempt to drag Iraq into an axis at the expense of the neutrality that Baghdad is trying to pursue.
On the reasons for the repeated targeting in Iraq, the strategic expert Safaa Al-Asam says that there is a vendetta that created a new retaliation after the assassination of Al-Muhandis and Soleimani, which was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and the hostility became very clear and open because the United States adopted the assassination.
Al-Asam adds to Al-Jazeera Net that there are great differences between Iran and America, and they were working to liquidate them inside Iraq, and each of them is trying to penetrate the strong relations, whether American or Iranian, with Baghdad, and thus the settling of accounts and taking revenge through Iraq.
Al-Asam points out that most of the armed factions are supported from abroad and possess weapons outside the control of the state and they were received from outside the borders, and thus he provided them with power and control inside Iraq through blocs or parties, as they were able to penetrate even Iraqi security. He believes that these factions were able to make American interests threatened as long as they are inside Iraq, and made America build air defense systems.
Is the response over?
In turn, Professor of Political Science, Dr. Ahmed Adnan Kazem, rules out that military operations against American interests will stop after the announcement of the withdrawal from Iraq, especially since the agreement between the Iraqi side and its American counterpart is just an agreement to end the combat missions of the American forces in Iraq.
He shows to Al Jazeera Net that the operations launched against American interests remain dependent on the degree of prior agreement in resolving the nuclear file with Iran, which is still under dialogue through Vienna negotiations with European countries and with American participation as well.
Kazem expresses his belief that the military response to the airport incident is not over yet, especially since Soleimani and Al-Muhandis represent the symbolic case of the ideological leadership that works for the constants and not the variables (protecting the land and sanctities and preserving the sovereignty of the state, whatever it is), so that the end of the response or not depends on the nature of the response. The US military presence in Iraq.
He states that the US withdrawal from Iraq was expected, as happened in Afghanistan, especially since the US administration was unable to manage the issues of wars and conflicts in all the regions it entered since the end of the Cold War and beyond until the present time.
The political science professor described the US withdrawal as a victory for all Iraqis and their state, which aims to live in peace, security and stability away from the conflict of major powers and their interests in the region.
For his part, Professor of International Relations, Dr. Haider Shaker Khamis, says that it is unlikely that the bombing operations will end with a possible US withdrawal, because they are in essence operations related to political pressure more than they are security operations, and their justifications cannot be limited only to the American withdrawal.
Khamis adds to Al Jazeera Net that these operations cannot be considered as the end of the response to the assassination of Soleimani and Al-Muhandis, but rather as part of the ongoing cold war between the United States and Iran.
He stresses that, if the US withdrawal occurs, it cannot be considered a victory for Iran or its supporters, but rather it is an important step to preserve its gains in Iraq in particular and the region in general, allowing it to continue the political maneuvering it has performed since 2003, and to move forward in using this pressing card. in its negotiations with Western countries.
Khamis expresses his belief that the US presence is linked to regional balances in the region, but it inevitably constitutes one of the priorities of US policy in the last two decades, even if the strength of its adherence to it by successive US administrations differed.