The situation in Iraq, torn apart by US armed aggression, continues to deteriorate in recent months, confirming the complete fiasco of US policy in the country.
For years Iraqis have been clamoring for reform in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, namely ending corruption, improving services and expanding job opportunities, as well as a slew of increasingly anti-American slogans. Although the authorities have taken some measures to ensure the rights of protesters, including compensation for victims of violence against protesters since October 2019, protests continue in some provinces, and their protesters remain arrested and disappear without a trace. At least 157 people were killed and 5,494 injured in the unrest, according to a report released October 20 by the Human Rights Office of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).
Another wave of protests resumed on October 1 and spread throughout the Shiite south. At least five people died from gunshot wounds, and about 60 were injured in clashes on 28 November in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah. On December 3, further protests began against the regional government of Kurdistan over non-payment of salaries to civil servants. To disperse the anti-government march, Iraqi security forces fired tear gas and opened fire, and several protesters, including the organizers, most of whom are teachers, were detained.
As Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, told the UN Security Council members at the end of November, the Iraqi authorities have to act in the epicenter of several crises at once, in politics, in security, economy and finance, to solve social issues and, of course, sanitation problems. The continuing practice of people disappearing and being abducted without a trace in Iraq and the existence of a network of secret prisons is very important for the settlement of the situation in Iraq. As the experts of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances, which published its findings on the situation in Iraq on December 2, stated, they received reports that there are 420 secret prisons and pre-trial detention centers in this Arab country. They are also alarmed by the many mass graves in the country and the large number of unidentified bodies of the victims. Committee members called on the authorities to include punishment for crimes of kidnapping in the criminal code, and strongly recommended that such institutions be closed or converted into regular registered and controlled centers.
In addition, numerous observers note the continuingly sharp conflict between government forces and DAESH cell militants in the central part of Iraq (banned in the Russian Federation – ed.). In the Tarmia region of north Baghdad, a convoy of government forces was ambushed by terrorists, gunmen wounded three of them with sniper fire, one died from their wounds, and two more are in serious condition. In Salah ad-Din province, a truck was blown up by an explosive device left by militants. The DAESH terrorist group claimed responsibility for the November 29 rocket attack on one of the largest Iraqi oil refineries located in the city of Beiji, Salah ad Din Governorate.
Kamal Al-Hasnawi, one of the high-ranking leaders of the Al-Hashd al-Shaabi militia in Iraq, Kamal Al-Hasnawi, told the London newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadid that one of the reasons for the periodic activity of DAESH fighters in Iraq, especially in the Iraqi Jordan -the Syrian border triangle, is their support from the United States. According to him, supporting documents are in the hands of Al-Hashd al-Shaabi, indicating that the Americans are doing this to claim that the security situation has deteriorated since the end of coalition interactions with the Iraqi government. According to the Iraqi commander, the US coalition itself trained, equipped and deployed DAESH terrorists in various cities in Iraq, especially on the Iraqi-Syrian border. At the same time, Kamal Al-Hasnawi emphasized that the Iraqi Air Force itself has enough strength and capabilities to fill the vacuum of coalition forces, just as Al-Hashd al-Shaabi itself survived heavy battles with DAESH without air support from the coalition, and in these battles he achieved victories.
At the same time, a conflict between the Peshmerga, the self-defense forces of the Kurdish Autonomous Region, and the PKK militants is growing in northern Iraq, which, according to many observers, could lead to a full-scale civil war. The impetus for this aggravation was the murder of Gazi Salih on October 8, an employee of the Sazrer border crossing, for which the local authorities blamed the PKK, although the group claimed no involvement, nevertheless claiming responsibility for the October 27 sabotage on the oil pipeline. to which oil from Iraqi Kurdistan was supplied to Turkey. It’s worth noting that the PKK, recognized as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, is waging an armed struggle for the secession of the Kurdish regions of Turkey. Its main bases are in hard-to-reach areas in northwestern Iraq and it is estimated that it has about 5,000 fighters in Iraqi Kurdistan.
According to media reports, on December 3, the Iraqi capital was subjected to another rocket attack, explosions were heard in the “green zone” in the center of the Iraqi capital, where foreign and government facilities are located, as well as in the area of the International Airport in Baghdad.
In connection with the aggravation of relations between the United States and Iran, according to Politico, the United States is withdrawing half of its diplomats from Iraq. CNN News, citing reliable sources, reported that this decision was made at a meeting of the Committee for the Coordination of US National Policy and is due to “minimizing the risk” to the life of the US Embassy in Iraq, as the anniversary of the assassination of Iranian General Qasim Soleimani on January 3, 2020 is approaching as a result of a US airstrike at Baghdad airport. The sharp increase in tensions between Iran and the United States is due, among other things, to the recent death of Iranian nuclear physicist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, which, according to Tehran, was caused not only by Israel, but also by the United States.
In August, Donald Trump wrote on Twitter about the planned reduction of the US military presence in Iraq from the current 5,200 to 3,500 people, and on August 20, at a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in the White House, this issue was additionally discussed. However, the complete failure of the US strategy in this Arab country forces Washington, because of the opposition of the local population, not only to think about the safety of its military, but also the employees of the American diplomatic mission, whom the population of Iraq is openly kicking off of their land. Today it is already clear to everyone that US policy in Iraq, as well as in Afghanistan, has manifested itself as the epic failure it is, and the shamed US withdrawal from both of these countries is inevitable.
Vladimir Platov, an expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.