Israeli regime’s airstrike on Iraq’s Public Mobilization Forces (PMF) last week has been the center of focus of the political circles in the country. The attack, apparently launched with an American green light, were meant to paint the PMF as the source of destabilization of the country for the final aim of undermining the voluntary force’s position as a part of the armed forces. The attack raised a question: How much did it help Tel Aviv and Washington reach their goals. There is a belief that it not only failed to contribute to their objectives but also backfired.
PMF popularity promoted after the attack
The first development marking a frustration to the Israelis and their American allies is the meeting of the leaders of three Iraqi powers with some of the heads of the popular force. President Barham Salih, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, and Parliament Speaker Mohamed al-Halbousi on August 27 met with PMF representatives in Baghdad. They condemned the attack as a blatant violation of the Iraqi sovereignty.
The dominant notion is that the Iraqi political community after defeat of ISIS terrorist group, to its opposition the PMF was formed with a call by leader of the country’s Shiite Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, failed to understand the necessity for the popular force to continue its existence to contribute to protection of the Iraqi security in the face of potential threats. Essentially, the Israeli threats to Iraq were not tangible for them. After ISIS’s end, the Israeli attacks seem to have indicated to the Iraqis that the PMF is a stabilizing force and that it is Tel Aviv and Washington that are posing risks to Iraq’s stability. The important issue is that the Israeli regime is not an actor indifferent to the Iraqi home developments. Thus, the political leaders’ meeting with PMF heads after the attacks sends a signal of credit to the voluntary force which is part of Iraq’s power and a factor promoting national deterrence.
Project to represent the US as protector of Iraqi security fails
The drone strike has raised afresh to political and public debate the highly controversial issue of the US military presence in Iraq under the ruse of preserving the nation’s security. According to the security pact signed between Washington and Baghdad, the US expressed commitment to protecting Iraq and deterring threats in the country’s vicinity. The evidence surrounding the Israeli raid show that not only the Americans failed to protect Iraq’s airspace and national sovereignty but also they were part of the plot.
In the new situation, the US is no longer regarded by the Iraqi politicians as the security protector rather is recognized as part of crisis-making elements endangering the West Asian state’s security. Additionally, as every day goes by, it becomes clear to the Iraqis that Washington has an undeniable role in re-emergence and re-organization of ISIS in Iraq. Trump administration has two aims behind these plots: First, threatening the wings of Axis of Resistance in Iraq to check Iran’s increasing regional influence. Second, fueling the crisis and insecurity in Iraq to perpetuate the US military presence in the Arab country. The American strategists are struggling to secure their presence in Baghdad and Erbil as two West Asian spots with geostrategic significance. The Israeli assault only made things worse for Trump. Now a majority of the Iraqi political circles want expulsion of the US from their country.
Iraqis cut hope in US arms and military support
Another repercussion of the Israeli attack is the distrust among the Iraqis in the US regarding Washington’s provision of military support to Baghdad. Over the past few years, Iraq, along with Syria, has been the epicenter of the regional crises. It needed strategic and logistical backing to counter ISIS, the largest and most gruesome terror organization in the world. Contrary to the expectations of the Iraqi politicians, in post-ISIS period Washington grew extremely opponent to training Iraqi forces and arming them with modern and heavy weapons.
On the other side, the countries in the camp opposite to the Axis of Resistance like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain continue to be provided generously with a wide range of arms. Since 2017, the year Trump made Saudi Arabia the first destination of his first foreign trip as a president, Riyadh sealed deals with the US for over $200 billion worth of arms and military equipment, for example. The American show of reluctance to provide Iraq with military equipment encourages the Iraqi leaders to lose their confidence in the Americans as signatories of a security pact with Iraq. Very likely, the Iraqis learn lessons from this American treachery and will no longer put all of their eggs only in the American basket in terms of defense equipment. Iraq can turn head to Russia, a country capable of replacing the US in terms of arms provision. Baghdad could ask Moscow for the supply of S-400 long-range air defense system, which is very more efficient than its Western likes, to protect its skies.