Iran and the United States Battle It Out in Iraq

Iraq’s Shiite militias are doing Iran’s bidding against the United States. Baghdad won’t be able to dismantle them.

Under enormous pressure from the United States, on July 1, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi declared that his country’s Iranian-backed Shiite militias would now be under Iraqi government control.

It is unlikely that he’ll be able to enforce his decree.

Iraq is fast becoming a battleground in the escalating conflict between the United States and Iran—and not by its own choosing. Some of the Shiite militias there, known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), are apparently doing Iran’s bidding.

On May 19, a rocket landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The United States has blamed Iran and its proxies in Iraq, including the PMF, for that attack.

That same month, the militias allegedly targeted Saudi oil facilities from Iraqi soil, presumably because Iran pushed them to do so in retaliation for U.S. sanctions on its own oil industry. There are doubts about the claim that the PMF was involved. Nonetheless, Saudi Arabia is reportedly deploying air surveillance and aerial monitoring systems on the border with Iraq, according to Arabic-language media sources, but this is not yet confirmed with Saudi officials.

In June, the militias reportedly stormed the Bahraini Embassy in the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad to protest a conference sponsored by the Bahraini government and held in Bahrain on June 25 and 26. The conference had highlighted an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan devised by the White House. According to Iraqi media reports, the order to storm the embassy was issued by the notorious commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Qassem Suleimani.

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