Multiple missile strikes carried out in recent weeks on American military facilities and overseas bases in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria indicate that a growing number of people living in countries that have endured American military invasions have had enough of America’s intervention and are fed up with Washington’s policy.
The level of dissatisfaction among the Afghan people with the US military presence in Afghanistan has already received extensive coverage in the media, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has even been forced to declare that the US will pull all of its troops out of Afghanistan by May 2021.
Outside Afghanistan, anti-American sentiment has long prevailed among people living in Syria and Iraq, which has not only been voiced through peaceful means, such as holding anti-American protests or appealing to the UN to demand the American troops be withdrawn.
Powerful explosions sparked a raging fire in the late hours of July 28 at the Majid al Tamimi Airbase in Iraq, where both Iraqi and American soldiers are stationed. This was the second strike to be carried out within the space of the same day. In an attack earlier that day, three rockets were launched on the territory of the US Camp Taji base located north of Baghdad.
On August 10, an explosion near the Iraqi border with Kuwait hit convoys supplying US-led coalition forces with military equipment. On the same day, another rocket attack struck near the US Embassy in Baghdad. The actual territory of the American Embassy was hit by missiles on July 5, and after another attack on the embassy on June 11, Washington was forced to negotiate reducing the US military presence in Iraq with Baghdad.
The Iraqi media notes that attacks on American military facilities are carried out on almost a weekly basis in Iraq, and although there are no casualties or people left injured in many of these attacks according to official data, the infrastructure of the military facilities has suffered material damage. At the same time, the threat of far more serious attacks being carried out in the near future has not been dismissed by the US.
According to the al-Hadath TV channel based in Dubai, Iraq and the United States came to an agreement on August 22 in response to the significant increase in the number of protests being held in Iraq against the US military presence in the country, agreeing to relocate American troops and equipment from Camp Taji north of Baghdad to Erbil — the capital of the Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq. Almost all the troops are now known to have been moved to the military base in Erbil, in what was the largest withdrawal of US troops from an American military base in the Middle East.
There are also more and more reports coming from Syria about missile attacks on US military bases, especially in the northeast of the country in the al-Hasakah and Deir ez-Zor governorates. The Syrian Al-Watan newspaper reported that one of these attacks targeted a US military base in the town of al-Shaddadah, the administrative center of the al-Hasakah governorate in northeastern Syria, which was hit by rockets in early August. In May, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported that another armed attack was carried out on the US military using machine guns and grenades, in which at least eight people were injured.
In some articles, observers claim that the American facilities targeted in these attacks are being used as infrastructure to protect oil fields and for the illegal production of Syrian oil. For instance, one of these attacks carried out in mid-August targeted an American military base near the Conoco gas field (north of the Deir ez-Zor governorate), which is controlled by the US and Kurdish armed groups. As anti-American sentiment gains momentum, and with periodic attacks being carried out on American targets in Syria, the United States has already begun drafting a special combat unit in Syria to protect oil fields east of the Euphrates. According to local sources, this special unit includes ethnic Arabs drafted from the ranks of the militia fighters in the Washington-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is militarily led by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a mainly Kurdish militia which forms the backbone of the SDF. However, local tribes are increasingly taking a stand against the presence of American armed forces and their SDF henchmen in Syria. According to Al-Masdar News, one of these clashes took place on August 17, when fighters from the Al-Baggara tribe reportedly drove SDF forces out of the village of Jadid Baggara in a rural part of Deir ez-Zor governorate in eastern Syria. It is indeed the eastern regions of Syria where numerous protests are being held against military occupation and new US sanctions, which are trying to put the Syrian government in a difficult position to prevent Damascus and its allies from working together to rebuild their vision of Syria.
Given these circumstances, US President Donald Trump has been repeating his intention to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria more and more frequently. Donald Trump made another remark about withdrawing US troops from Iraq at a press briefing on August 19 that was streamed on the White House Twitter account. In Trump’s opinion, the US army should never have gone into the Middle East, and he recalled that the United States is continuing to reduce the number of American troops stationed in Afghanistan.
It should not be forgotten that during a speech Donald Trump gave on June 13, addressed to graduates of the United States Military Academy (USMA) in West Point, New York, he said: “We are restoring the fundamental principles that the job of the American soldier is not to rebuild foreign nations […].” In Trump’s own words, there is now “a renewed, clear-eyed focus on defending America’s vital interests.”
However, on June 9, Donald Trump informed members of Congress from both the Senate and the House of Representatives that Washington will continue operations against DAESH, al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other related groups listed as terrorist organizations and based in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti and Niger.
Yet considering how people living in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have railed against the presence of US troops and military bases in their countries, one could expect to see similar acts of protest in the very near future in other countries around the world where more than 600 US military bases are hosted.
Valery Kulikov, political analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.