US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Iraq in May amid increasing tensions between Washington and Tehran. (AP)

April 4, 2020

The recent US military actions in Syria and Iraq against the Iranian regime’s proxy terrorist groups have caused panic among the heads of the regime’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), its officials and as well as the regime’s media.

Revolutionary Guards Political Vice President Yadullah Javani referring to recent US actions against the regime’s proxies in the region and Iraq said, “By focusing on some kind of psychological operation, the Americans want to move forward and pose threats to resistance groups in Iraq and sometimes to Iran. They are seeking to influence developments in this way and to move them towards the direction they are considering, especially in the matter of electing the prime minister in Iraq and the political process in Iraq.” (State-run website TABNAK, 31 March)

A state-run website affiliated with the regime’s supreme leader’s faction sees the maneuvers carried out by the US and Emirati forces the groundwork for US action against the interests of the regime in the region, particularly in Iraq.

By the aspect of the writer, these maneuvers differ from the past maneuvers especially while, “Last September, the United States by an operation killed Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the (IRGC) Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of Iraq’s al-Hashed al-Shaba’i forces and a number of their comrades near Baghdad International Airport.” (State-run media RAJA News, 31 March)

Non-governmental experts also see recent US moves in the region to target Iraqi terrorist groups and regime’s proxies in Iraq, especially the group known as Kata’ib Hezbollah or Hezbollah Brigades, which has recently been hit significantly by US attacks on its headquarters.

“The Kata’ib Hezbollah terrorist group also warned in a statement of the new US scenario for attacking its military positions and resistance groups and unveiled the US plan to airdrop its troops in Iraqi military bases and warned about the consequences of the plan on the Iraqi government’s infrastructure and its national security.” (State-run media RAJA News, 31 March)

The Iranian regime’s worries about US mobility in Iraq against its groups have recently doubled, as the New York Times recently wrote that the US Department of Defense in a statement calling its Iraq based troops to prepare for operations against the Kata’ib Hezbollah militants.

“The directive said that Iranian paramilitary forces — members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps — could be legitimate targets if they are located with the Kataib Hezbollah fighters.” (NYTimes, 27 March)

Some state media and regime officials believe that the US and other coalition member states are evacuating their forces from US bases for two reasons:

One is to attack the Kata’ib Hezbollah and have US forces immune from its terrorist operations, and the other is to pressure Iraqi groups to agree to a US candidate for the post of prime minister.

On this subject, the Iranian Diplomacy website wrote: “In the last few weeks, we have witnessed US-led developments on Iraqi soil. Last Friday, the New York Times wrote that the White House had ordered a serious plan to completely destroy the Iraqi Kata’ib Hezbollah group after a series of rocket-propelled grenades and mortar shells attacks on March 11 and 14 assigned to this group against the al-Taji base (the US Coalition headquarters in northern Baghdad).

“The United States’ sudden decision to deploy and severely deploy its embassy, ​​consulate in Baghdad and Erbil under the pretext of the spread of the coronavirus could be in line with this decision. In the shadow of these actions, the United States is trying to create conditions to bring the necessary pressure on Iraq’s political factions, especially groups closely aligned with Iran to persuade them to increase the political support of Adnan Al-Zarfy.” (Diplomacy Irani, 31 March)

Kamal al-Hasnawi, one of the leaders of a group affiliated with Hashd al-Shaba’i, pointed to the US threat to target Iran’s regime Iraqi terrorist groups and said, “Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has received messages from the United States about attacks on resistance and Hashd al-Shaba’i groups. Iraqi politicians are worried about US actions when they leave some bases, and they consider the exit to be an American readiness to attack Hashd al-Shaba’i.” (MEHR news agency, 31 March)

Regardless of whether or not the prediction of a US attack on terrorist groups affiliated with the Iranian regime in Iraq is or will not be realized, the fact is that the regime’s media and official’s concern reflects the weakness of the regime and its proxy groups in Iraq.

US officials have also repeatedly stressed that they intend to oppose the regime’s expansionist policy and its proxy terrorist groups.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “We will always respond to protect and defend Americans.” Pompeo was speaking to reporters on Tuesday when asked about recent attacks by Iranian-armed militia groups in Iraq. “Whether it’s our diplomats in our embassies and consulates inside of Iraq or Department of Defense people who are serving or there are civilians who are contractors, we’ll always do everything we can to defend and protect them. We will respond if they are threatened.

“The coronavirus has not impacted the United States’ ability to respond. We have seen attacks on Americans, attempted efforts in some cases as well as inside of Iraq conducted by Shia militias.

“We will respond against all of those who facilitated, trained, equipped, and enabled those attacks on America. That holds as true today as it did two weeks, four weeks, or back at the beginning of January when we took a strike against [Iranian general] Qassem Soleimani.” (Washington Free Beacon, 31 March 2020)

The fact is that the regime is involved with various with internal crises and is in dire need to make a crisis in the region, a line of work that is initially tied to the existence of this regime, but the difference with the previous years is that currently global politics, because of the current US policies doesn’t revolve around the appeasement policy, and in practice, the regime is in extreme regional and international isolation. Secondly, it faces a very fragile situation due to economic depression and, most importantly, the explosive hatred by the Iranian people which has been increased by the coronavirus outbreak and the regime’s weak reaction.

INU

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.