Following the US attack on the base of al-Shaabi forces, hundreds of Iraqi demonstrators and al-Shaabi supporters staged a sit-in around the US embassy in Baghdad and set fire to the embassy wall. Given the importance of the issue, American affairs expert Amir Ali Abolfatah in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations elaborated on various aspects of the attack and its possible consequences.
The following is the full text of the interview:
Q: Could the recent US attack on Hashd al-Shaabi positions be related to domestic issues in America, including Donald Trump’s impeachment bid?
The US pretext for attacking Iraq is the killing of a US military contractor that Americans claim was carried out by Hashd al-Shaabi. It has long been foreseen that retaliatory action would be taken if a US soldier or citizen was killed in a US-Iranian tug of war or confrontation between Iranian allies and the US. Therefore, it cannot be assumed that since Donald Trump is under impeachment pressure within the United States, he has launched the attack on Iraq because if the American contractor had not been killed, Washington probably would not have launched the attack. In response, the Iraqi government announced that investigations have not determined whether the responsibility of killing the American contractor lies with Iraqi Hezbollah forces, but that US officials have that perception and have taken action on it. So no matter when the killing of the US contractor occurred, sooner or later, the United States would have shown the same reaction.
Q: Is the US attack on the popular mobilization force also supported by the Democrats?
When the lives of American soldiers or civilians in the war zone are at stake, a consensus within the United States emerges in response. Although the two main Democratic and Republican parties are divided on political, social, economic, and cultural issues, we do find a sense of sympathy when it comes to national security or the safety of American citizens. For this reason, both Democrats and Republicans supported Trump’s action to avenge the death of the American contractor.
Of course, there may be criticisms that Trump has put too much pressure on Iran and these pressures have resulted in outbreak of such incidents. But when the United States engages in a war or military intervention, we no longer see partisan divisions in the country.
Q: Can the Iraqi government prevent similar events from happening again?
There are certain currents inside Iraq who favor tension between Iran and the US and limited conflicts between the two countries. In pursuit of US or Saudi policies, they are concerned about the expansion of Iran’s role in Iraq. Therefore, one cannot expect the Iraqi government or political currents to unanimously oppose the US action or seek to have a source of influence to prevent such events from happening.
Adel Abdul Mahdi’s recent remarks also showed that the Americans were not seeking permission from the Iraqi government and merely informed them. In such circumstances, the Baghdad government has little authority to prevent such incidents from happening again. But the design and actions of the Popular Forces and the Resistance Front in Iraq and the region will have good deterrence effects.
Q: Could the attack on Hashd a-Shaabi prepare the ground for exit of US troops from Iraq?
It should be noted that we are now talking about a country (Iraq), which has been under the American occupation for many years. In fact, the US, with its military force, overthrew the government in that country and assigned a military ruler to run Iraq. The United States has also ruled Iraq for years and has bases in the country. . Considering what was said, the Americans do not pay much attention to Iraq’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
So for years Americans have ignored Iraq’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and one cannot expect Washington today to adhere to international law and respect Iraq’s sovereignty. It should also be noted that, according to Donald Trump, the United States has spent $ 7 trillion in Iraq and suffered a loss of 4,000 men, the highest number of casualties since the Vietnam War. With these figures in mind, the Americans will not withdraw and, if pressured, they will move to overthrow the protesting government.
Q: How do you see the prospect of tensions between the US and Iraq?
The parties appear to be unable to close this case. In fact, although the US retaliation may have seemed to be the end of the story, then again we saw some Iraqi protesters attacking the US embassy, which would likely trigger a US response; so it is unlikely that tensions will end soon.