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Escalation in Iraq

Discussion in 'Geostrategic Issues' started by Feanor, Jan 3, 2020.

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  1. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    The US carried out a number of air strikes against Hezbollah al-Qataib targets in Iraq, leading to mass protests, and attacks on the US embassy in Baghdad. Some of the embassy personnel was evacuated, but many were not. Crows set up a blockade, and an encampment. De-escalation came in the form of Iraqi security forces securing the area immediately around the embassy.

    Осада посольства США в Багдаде
    США нанесли авиаудары по иранским прокси в Ираке
    Штурм посольства США в Багдаде
    Wall
    Error

    In the meantime a rocket attack targetted the Baghdad airport, and allegedly a car carrying ranking Iranian military personnel was hit by a UAV strike. There is also unconfirmed information on the US taking prisoner two Iraqi politicians.

    Обстрел аэропорта Багдада. Убит Кассем Сулеймани
    Wall

    The situation is extremely tenuous, and allegedly Qaseim Soleimani was killed the UAV strike against the car. If this turns out to be true, the situation could deteriorate drastically. Even more so, if it turns out that the US has really taken Iraqi politicians as prisoners, the US position in Iraq would become highly questionable.

    On the flip side if the protesters are pushed back, and substantial portions of the Iraqi government are siding with the US, this could represent a serious push against Iranian influence in Iraq, albeit through questionable means.
     
  2. Ranger25

    Ranger25 Active Member

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  3. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Does this make it... better? Was he in Iraq illegally? And even if he was, does that justify a missile strike? Are the US and Iran at war? If not, this is basically an assassination of a foreign official in a third country. Nevermind the practical consequences, what does this mean for the state of international relations?
     
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  4. Ranger25

    Ranger25 Active Member

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    I don’t believe there’s a simple way to make this “better” and any escalation will have negative consequences for an already unstable and deadly region The losers in all of this are the 25+ million Iraqi civilians caught in the middle

    That said It will be hard for the US to justify the strike other than linking the Quds to innumerable international acts of death and violence throughout the region. The US DOD attributes Quds lead directly for the deaths of nearly 600 American deaths thus leading, IMO, to strike a target of opportunity. DOD also sees the recent attacks on the Embassy linked to the Quds.

    I don’t necessarily agree with the (most likely) unilateral action and now we await what one would assume will be asymmetrical Iranian responses potentially throughout the region or beyond.

    All not good for peace and stability.
     
  5. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    No good is going to come of this and General Qassem Soleimani was close to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Between this and Trumps imposition of crippling sanctions it basically gives Iran casus belli for a justified war of self defence against the US, by whatever means at their disposal. In this case the US is definitely dropped itself in the brown smelly stuff and has undone any good will it may have built up, with non-Saudi aligned groups. If it is attacked by Iran, it cannot call on NATO assistance because it is outside of the NATO area AND in this case the US is, by all appearances, the aggressor. Iraq is very much annoyed by the US actions against militias within Iraqi borders, and this may be enough for it to make US military and diplomatic personnel persona non grata. These actions by the US are driving Iraq into the Iranian camp, not away from it so are very much self defeating, which appears to be a hallmark of much of the current Administrations foreign policy.
     
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  6. CheeZe

    CheeZe Member

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    The US Embassy in Iraq is advising all US citizens to leave immediately. So, I think things are going to hell in a handbasket with this escalation and they know it. Given all the "good will" the Trump administration has created with NATO, I doubt any of them would lift a finger after the past three years.

    EDIT: The evacuation notice appears to be in response to Iran's public statement of revenge.

    Source: U.S. kills top Iranian general in Baghdad airstrike; Khamenei vows 'harsh revenge'
     
  7. Milne Bay

    Milne Bay Active Member

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    Yep it is a shit show about to unfold.
    This is what happens when ego drives foreign policy.
    The phrase "dumb as dog s#!t" comes to mind.
    MB
     
  8. Pentaprism

    Pentaprism New Member

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    Wow

    Amazed that the US decided to assassinate Irans' top general. Is there any precedent for this happening other than when 2 Nations are Officially at War?

    Somewhat surprised the General put himself in such a vulnerable location so soon after the Embassy protests.

    How badly will Iran miss Soleimani? He seems to have been quite an extraordinary leader. Are there capable replacements in the Wings?

    What happens now? Would love some analysis from you Guys on Irans' options and their likely response. I can't imagine they will directly attack the US Military and get into a full scale war. But neither can they do nothing or look impotent.

    What influence will this have on Iraqi Politics and Military? Can the US stay in Iraq if they lose all Iraqi support? The arrest of 2 Iraqi Politicians by US Military (if this actually happened) is also remarkable. The US and Iraq are supposed to be Allies, even if the alliance was forced on the Iraqis, but they cannot even pretend to be Allies if they start unilaterally arresting elected Iraqi Politicians.

    I sense this may be a turning point where the US has exercised it's Global Powers to the absolute maximum and the only direction from here is backwards. Going to be an interesting year.
     
  9. Goknub

    Goknub Member

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    The ripples from this will take time to be felt.

    Iran's ability to respond will be limited, their use of proxies has been their go-to for plausible deniability but that won't work now as it will be clearly linked as a directed retaliation and risk a direct conflict. A direct conflict is also clearly a very bad idea. I think they miscalculated that Trump being isolationist wouldn't respond.

    The most likely immediate outcome will be if Iraq votes to boot the US, but that will shift the power balance further in Iran's favour. It's pretty clear from the protests that this is already a major concern. I'd predict a statement or some other limitation on US forces but not a full ordered withdraw. Without the US, Iraq risks being at the mercy of an Iran-Russia-Syria axis.

    Either way Trump can win, US forces stay and he's the tough-guy leader. They get ordered out and he gets to leave as he originally wanted. Win-win as the Chinese say. It also undermines the recent Iran-Russia-China naval drills.

    Of course, this is the Middle East and it could all go to sh!t as usual.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2020
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  10. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, remember, people like Muqtada al Sadr are elected politicians in Iraq. I'm not defending it or arguing its justified, but you can see how the thought process may have gone. Anyways, let's see if any confirmation emerges.
     
  11. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Update.

    Iran has stated that this marks the end of negotiations with the US, and that reprisals will follow. They have also accused the US of international terrorism.

    Warning the first link contains graphic images.

    Место гибели Кассема Сулеймани
    В результате американского авиаудара в районе аэропорта Багдада погиб генерал Сулеймани

    Muqtada as-Sadr has declared that he reforming the Mahdi Army, an organization that fought against the US for years during the Iraq insurgency. Meanwhile Iran has appointed Ismail Qaani to replace Suleimani. And it appears that the information on the arrest or detention of two Iraqi politicians is not confirmed.

    https://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/5537964.html
    Верховный лидер Ирана Али Хаменеи назначил нового командующего батальона "Аль-Кудс" - Исмаила Каани

    Iraqi parliament is discussing a law to demand the withdrawal of all US troops in Iraq.

    Парламент Ирака рассмотрит закон о выводе американских войск

    Hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in Iran, in a show of support for Suleimani, and in anger for his death.

    http://classic.newsru.com/world/03jan2020/iran_people.html

    Russia has issued a cautious statement that the killing of Suleimani will increase regional tensions. I strongly suspect they will wait for a more definite Iranian reply to commit to a line on this (and maybe not even then).

    http://classic.newsru.com/russia/03jan2020/suleymani_mid_usa.html

    Oil prices are climbing in the wake of the incident.

    https://diana-mihailova.livejournal.com/4350301.html
     
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  12. Ranger25

    Ranger25 Active Member

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    Another interesting tidbit. Intel sources cited saying Gen S had ordered the US embassy to be stormed and American and Israeli hostages taken region wide


    TEL AVIV: Five days ago, an undisclosed intelligence agency intercepted a telephone call made by the head of Iran’s Quds Force, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, in which he was heard ordering his proxies in Iraq to attack the U.S embassy in Baghdad, as well as other Israeli and American targets, with the aim of taking hostages, Israeli sources say.

    It’s unclear whether this was a lapse in tradecraft on the part of the usually savvy Soleimani or whether the notorious Iranian military leader’s phone calls were being routinely intercepted. Nor is it clear whether it was the US or another foe of Iran that made the intercept. Regardless, the intelligence seems to have led directly to Soleimani’s killing yesterday, which has thrown the Mideast into uproar


    More here




    Israelis: Soleimani Intercept Sparked Drone Strike; US Reinforces Region
     
  13. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    That is an 'interesting' tidbit, assuming the story is accurate. If he had issued orders to Iranian proxies to launch attacks upon the US embassy in Iraq as well as other targets, with the goal of taking hostages... then him entering Iraq begins to look quite different. IMO that would suggest either planning for or even perhaps direct control of a major op, which in turn causes the decision to eliminate him prior to the launch of a potential major terror attack also look quite different.

    It would also be 'interesting' to know if he had permission and/or a visa to enter Iraq, or if he had entered either illegally or without the official knowledge of and permission from the Iraqi gov't.
     
  14. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I mean... it should come as no surprise that Iran has something to do with the protests that followed a US airstrikes against Hezbollah forces in Iraq. However there's a big difference between inspiring protests and actively ordering what is suggested here. I hope they publish the contents of the phone call, and do it soon. It could de-escalate the situation, by putting Iran in a much more precarious position. I suspect the US will still face a demand from the Iraq government to withdraw, which I think is Iran's strategic objective here, and how the US handles that demand will be very important.
     
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  15. the concerned

    the concerned Member

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    Why not pullout of Iraq anyway. Surely forces within Jordan and Kuwait could provide enough. I also think given Iraq's uncertainty a arms embargo should be a necessity.
     
  16. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    I highly doubt that the contents of the call will be published, as that could giveaway tradecraft secrets. Not to mention that Iran and/or supporters of Iran (including non-aligned or Iranian-friendly gov'ts) would likely dispute the contents released, whether or not what is released is accurate.
     
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  17. CheeZe

    CheeZe Member

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    Pulling out now risks Iraq swinging to the Russia-Syria-Iran camp, which would leave Israel extremely vulnerable to political forces which see it as a threat. There's also the loss of political face. Leave now and it will look like the US backed down before the Iranians retaliated.

    Jordan and Kuwait? Why would they want to get involved in Iraq? The Kuwaitis are entirely reliant on the American troops there for protection. Jordan only deployed military assets to Iraq to combat Daesh. This new proxy war with Iran has nothing to do with them.

    An arms embargo will do absolutely nothing except drive the Iraqis into Russia's waiting arms. If the US won't sell to them, Russia will be happy to. If Russia won't sell (or can't provide enough), China is more than happy to sell. If the US gives up its place at the table, no matter how unwelcome and how it doesn't want to be there, if it leaves, someone else is waiting to take that spot and not with good intentions. That's how Saddam got all his Soviet toys since the US wouldn't sell to Iraq during the Cold War until the Iran-Iraq war.
     
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  18. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    Agree, a release is a lose-lose solution. No supporters of Iran would believe any transcript and the tradecraft giveaway is a problem, especially if Israel was the source.
     
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  19. Pentaprism

    Pentaprism New Member

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    For the US the situation has a smell of winning the Battle but losing the War. The fact that Iraqi Parliament is even discussing expelling US Forces is very encouraging from the Iranian perspective.

    Of course even if US Troops are expelled it doesn't mean they will go, they were not invited in the first place and Iraqi Sovereignty is hardly the biggest concern of US Military. Nevertheless if the US decided to stay using some lame excuse about stopping ISIS they will be on very thin ice diplomatically. They become a legitimate Military target for anyone who dares to have a crack at them every time they venture beyond their Compound. Support from even their Staunchest Allies may be mediocre.

    From Iran's perspective I believe their best strategy is to do very little on the Military front. Just work behind the scenes to secure Political Control and continue to bring Armaments into Iraq and Syria as discretely as they can. Avoid direct Military Confrontations with the US, Israel and Gulf States.
     
  20. Feanor

    Feanor Super Moderator Staff Member

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    In my opinion this goes beyond what Iran's supporters think. The strike against Suleimani looks so aggressive and ill-conceived that I think getting traditional US allies on board will be hard. Perhaps releasing it publicly would be out of the question but at least sharing it with close US allies would be very important.

    This line or reasoning is very alarming. The US is already maintaining a military deployment in Syria to "counter Iranian influence". Now Iraq also? Is the US in the business of deploying unwanted and unwelcome troops to any country, regardless of what the national government says, merely in a game of geo-strategic influence? Even if your answer to that question is a yes, doing it in such a brazen and transparent manner is hardly a good idea.

    They're both staging areas for US military presence. What I think he was trying to say is that if the US needs to maintain a military presence in the Middle East, those counties provide sufficient infrastructure. I'm actually not sure whether that's correct or not.