The Iraqi Arena and the American-Russian Relations
A couple of weeks ago, the US alleged that the Syrian government had used the chemical weapons in Douma city. Thus, the US, the UK, and France carried air strikes against the Syrian capital, Damascus. They attacked it with more than 100 missiles.
In the aftermath of that step, many experts predicted that such an offensive would leave various consequences. Iraq is expected to be one of the places where such results will appear. The political observers say that Syria's allies, Russia and Iran, will not sit idly by as the Americans are spreading their dominance in the Middle East. Therefore, these powers might retaliate against the American interests wherever it is possible.
Both Russia and Iran will not prevent the assumed attacks against the American military bases in this area. For example, Al-Tanf base, located at the convergence of the Iraqi-Syrian-Jordanian borders, is thought to be targeted by the Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). It is said that that military base was used in the strikes against Syria.
Some months ago, the commander of the Quds Brigade, General Qasim Sulaimani had been seen near that border point. That was a clear message to the Americans that PMF could become a threat to their soldiers. Not to mention that the American forces in Iraq will suffer from critical times.
According to this scenario, the American leverage in Iraq will be at risk. Thus, many analysts confirmed that Trump took the wrong decision towards Syria. He behaved in a reckless way that would conduce to embarrass the Americans in this phase.
We all know that Iraq will hold its next election on May 12; thus, any geopolitical mistake made by the US will negatively affect the outcome of this election. Consequently, many Americans blamed Trump for attacking Syria. They criticized that military campaign and regarded it as a hasty decision.
A few days after that significant event, special envoys from Russia, Syria, and Iran arrived in Iraq. They convened for exchanging the security information about this troubled area. Then, the Iraqi air force targeted a gathering of ISIS near the Syrian borders. Iraqi sources later confirmed that that air raid led to killing number two man in ISIS. That could not have happened accidentally.
For Iraqis, this is an important signal. They accuse the Americans of not being earnest in the war of countering terror. The White House does not give the permission to the Syrian government nor to the Iraqi forces to eliminate ISIS in this vast border area. Compared to that, the Russians are more serious in achieving this job for various geopolitical reasons.
Surprisingly, another development occurred. The Kurdish media declared that the Russian oil company, Rosneft, had started the investment in the Kurdish pipeline conveying the Iraqi oil to Turkey. This means that Russia has become a new rival to the American role in the Iraqi Kurdistan region. This will lead to enlarge the American problems in Iraq.
At the same time, the Iraqi National Security Advisor, Faleh al-Fayad undertook an official visit to Moscow. He met with many Russian officials and discussed the Cybersecurity. They referred to the importance of deterring the ISIS' ability for recruiting fighters and followers via social media. After a few days, the Iraqi police in Diyala province announced they had captured an ISIS' cell. It was trying to persuade some youths to work for this terrorist organization.
In Fact, Russia has now got a foothold in Iraq. This will make it have the ability to play a vital role in the geopolitical issues of Iraq and Syria. As a result, Trump has no longer been the only policy maker who can decide the future of these countries. Hence, we can say that the US might lose more of its influence there as long as Trump thinks that war and violence can preserve his country's interests.
In conclusion, Iraq will stay as an arena for the settling of the regional and global accounts for years to come. Managing this crisis will be a difficult task for any incoming Iraqi Prime Minister. Thus, Iraq is in an urgent need for a national elite that can rule this country suitably.
Diyari Salih is an Iraqi academic, Ph.D. in Political Geography, Baghdad, Post-Doctorate in International Relations, Warsaw, Focuses on the Geopolitical Issues in Iraq.