BAGHDAD -

Recent days have witnessed several attacks targeting American interests in Iraq. Erbil International Airport was attacked by drones on Tuesday night, after it had been subjected to a similar strike last month, which later led to an American response by targeting sites of armed factions on the Iraqi-Syrian border on June 28/ last June.

The investigations of Erbil International Airport were not completed until the Ain Al-Assad Air Base in Anbar Governorate (west of the country) was targeted by 14 missiles last Wednesday afternoon, which led to the fall of a number of wounded, according to the spokesman of the International Coalition in Iraq, Wayne Maroto, in an incident that is the second in two days. .

Hours after the attack, an armed faction called "Al-Muhandis's Revenge" adopted the attack on the Ain Al-Assad base, and no details are known about this faction except that it appears that it is trying to avenge the killing of the deputy head of the Popular Mobilization, Abu Al-Mahdi Al-Muhandis, who was assassinated by an American bombing near Baghdad International Airport, accompanied by a corps commander. Jerusalem in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Qassem Soleimani, on January 3, 2020.

Al-Janabi believes that the Shiite factions do not want an all-out war with America (Al-Jazeera)

  • Are the factions seeking all-out war?

In a statement on the bombing of Erbil airport, Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, led by Qais Khazali, considered the attack in response to the bombing of the 16th Brigade of the Popular Mobilization on the Syrian-Iraqi border a few days ago.


A member of the movement's political bureau, Saad al-Saadi, said in a press interview, "The coming days will witness an increase in the pace of qualitative operations against the American presence, until this administration complies with the Iraqi parliament's decision to leave Iraq and respect Iraqi sovereignty."

And whether the armed factions are seeking a comprehensive war against the American presence in Iraq, the security and strategic expert Fadel Abu Ragheef described the armed factions in Iraq as “stubborn and solid,” and therefore sees the necessity of what he described as “intimidating” the American side and the continuation of the attacks without engaging in an all-out war for many reasons.

As for political science professor at Cihan University Muhannad al-Janabi, for his part, he believes that these factions do not want an all-out war, and that the attacks carry many messages, including Iranian ones, in an attempt to move the discussions of the Iranian nuclear file, in addition to messages for the Iraqi government and the political positions pressing on these factions and their actions.

Al-Janabi adds - to Al-Jazeera Net - that these attacks are aimed at obtaining future immunity for the factions, especially since the Iraqi government, political blocs (some of them Shiite) and military leaders are fed up with these attacks.

On the other hand, political researcher Ghanem al-Abed believes that these factions have actually declared war against the American presence, whether in the Kurdistan region of Iraq by targeting Erbil International Airport more than once, or by targeting American interests at Ain al-Assad base and Victoria base at Baghdad International Airport.

The last analysis contradicts the vision of the military expert Abdel-Khaleq Al-Shaher in his speech to Al-Jazeera Net, who asserts that these factions do not have the ability to wage war with the United States in Iraq, and that the targets do not deviate from regional guidance and mutual interests.

Al-Shaher: Factions' targeting of American interests does not deviate from regional guidance and mutual interests (Iraqi press)

  • Are the factions out of the will of Iran?

And whether these factions have emerged from Iran after the intelligence chief of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Hussein Taeb, confirmed - during his visit to Baghdad two days ago - that his country had nothing to do with the attacks, Al-Shaher continues that it is difficult for these factions to deviate from Iran's will or orders, indicating that these factions have nothing to do with the attacks. The factions aim to maintain the state of what they described as "non-state" in Iraq, and that any control of the Iraqi forces means the end of these factions' rule and influence.

As for Muhannad al-Janabi, he believes that despite the faction's claim that they follow the Iraqi agenda, the facts indicate that there are common tendencies for these factions to target American interests, despite the presence of some factions that targeted American interests without prior Iranian advice.

He indicated in his speech - to Al-Jazeera Net - that the "Revenge of the Engineer" faction, which adopted the attack on Ain al-Assad, had announced itself in May 2020, and then adopted two operations against the Iranian factions, noting that all the factions that announce their adoption of the attacks follow the traditional factions. It is part of what is known as the "Coordinating Council of the Iraqi Resistance", where each faction takes for itself another name that it uses in adopting the attacks.

Fadel Abu Ragheef agrees with al-Janabi's opinion, but he adds that the statements of Iranian officials are cautious and not responsible, given that the Iranian decision is multiple and not unilateral, and therefore no one can get a full answer from the Iranians.

Which is confirmed by Ghanem Al-Abed - to Al-Jazeera Net - to continue that the recent visit of the commander of the Iranian Quds Force, Ismail Qaani, to Baghdad came to confirm the continuation of the escalation, considering that the armed factions in Iraq are commanding what is outside the leadership of the Revolutionary Guard without any doubt.

Al-Abed: The armed factions in Iraq are commanding what is outside the leadership of the Revolutionary Guard without any doubt (Al-Jazeera)

  • Will the attacks continue?

There are many analyzes about the future situation in Iraq, where many analysts and experts believe that the attacks will continue and escalate, which Al-Abed refers to in the continuation and escalation of attacks in the coming days and weeks, more broadly and more severely.

Not only that, as Al-Abed does not rule out the resort of armed factions to liquidate and assassinate political figures wishing for the American presence in the country and from various parties to the political process, especially with the escalation of inter-disputes related to the early elections scheduled to be held on the tenth of next October.

As for Abu Ragheef, he reads the continuation of the attacks until the fourth round of strategic dialogue between Baghdad and Washington, the date of which has not been set yet, pointing out that the best way to stop these attacks is to involve a negotiator from the Al-Fateh Alliance led by Hadi Al-Amiri or the Popular Mobilization in the next round of dialogue, provided that This negotiator is acceptable to the crowd, the factions, and the government.

Returning to the military expert, Abdul-Khaleq al-Shaher, who confirms that the attacks will continue until the United States decides to use excessive force against these factions, otherwise the factions may persist in launching more of them.

Abu Ragheef suggested that the American response would be very limited (Al-Jazeera)

  • How will Washington respond?

As for what the American response will be and its nature, Al-Shaher believes that the statements of the US Defense Ministry - shortly after the recent US strike on the Iraqi-Syrian border - indicate that the US response will be present, but it remains in accordance with the American vision, goals and potential outcomes.

Al-Janabi supports this proposal, pointing out that the Pentagon announced on June 28 that the US response would be a blow to a blow, which undermines the policy of former US President Donald Trump, who determined the US response to any targeting of the lives of US soldiers or contractors.

Al-Janabi adds that the American response will take into account the Iraqi situation, as Washington does not want the factions to take advantage of the American response in order to expand their influence at the expense of the Iraqi government, pointing out that the targeting will undoubtedly happen, but it will be qualitative in terms of objectives without being drawn into a comprehensive war, as he put it. .

Contrary to this proposition, Abu Ragheef asserts that the United States seeks calm for the longest possible period, considering that Iraq is the first strategic and geographical dimension in the world for Washington, noting that the American response will be very limited.

He comments by saying that "there are ups and downs between Washington and the factions, and that the Iraqi arena will remain an arena for skirmishes and disharmony between the two sides without an American will to embarrass the Iraqi government."

As for Ghanem al-Abed, he explores two possibilities in response. The first is a strong and decisive American response, which will force the factions to calm down. As for the second possibility, it is a limited response similar to the above, which will make the factions continue to escalate it.

Rasul considered the attacks on the Ain al-Assad base and Erbil airport as a terrorist act (Al-Jazeera)

  • What is the probability of replicating the Afghan experience?

The escalation of targeting US interests in Iraq coincides with the accelerated withdrawal of the United States and NATO from Afghanistan after 20 years of the invasion, in light of the armed factions' talk about the necessity of cloning the Afghan experience and forcing Washington to withdraw.

The leader of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, Qais al-Khazali, had confirmed in a tweet - on his Twitter account - that the Afghan method is the way to remove American forces from Iraq.

pic.twitter.com/wiAHrOE0GZ

- Qais Khazali (@Qais_alkhazali) April 24, 2021

Commenting on this tweet, the professor of political science at Cihan University believes that imitating the Afghan scenario in Iraq will not work, explaining that the Afghan situation is fundamentally different from Iraq, and that the strategic dimension of Iraq is far more important than its Afghan counterpart.

As for the military expert, Abdul Khaleq Al-Shaher, he believes that one of the most important reasons for Washington's withdrawal from Afghanistan came to allow Washington to focus its efforts on the Iraqi and Iranian situation alike.

Al-Jazeera Net correspondent contacted leaders in the Popular Mobilization, but did not receive any comment, in addition to the response of the security leaders in the country was a reference to the statement issued by the media spokesman for the Commander in Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces, Major General Yahya Rasoul, who described the attack on Ain al-Assad base and Erbil airport. It is an act of terrorism.

Rasoul stressed that the options for peace and war are the exclusive right of the Iraqi state, and that the government affirms its refusal to use Iraqi lands and the security of its citizens as an arena for reactions, which requires restraint and respect for the outcomes of the strategic dialogue, according to the text of the statement.

Once again, the enemies of Iraq are intrusive and targeting the country’s security and sovereignty, and the safety of citizens through a new terrorist attack on Erbil Airport and the Ain al-Assad camp of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, and before that a return to targeting the headquarters of diplomatic missions that fall under the protection of the state… pic.twitter.com/ P9Pxh50E1J

— Yahya Rasoul |

Yehia Rasool (@IraqiSpoxMOD) July 7, 2021

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