Have we already forgotten about Iraq?
As the news media asks the question, "Why aren't we already bombing Syria?" it's easy to forget that we only invaded Syria because of Iraq.
Plus, while there is lots of talk about our humanitarian bombing, and our inevitable slaughter of innocent civilians in the process that "no one could have predicted", we've already forgotten why we are currently in Syria.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently laid out a new US approach to the conflict in Syria, and two things became immediately clear — the US is staying in Syria and conflict with Iran could be coming.
.."Continued strategic threats to the US from not just ISIS and Al Qaeda, but from others, persist," Tillerson said earlier this month. "And this threat I'm referring to is principally Iran."
Tillerson said Iran "is positioning to continue attacking US interests, our allies, and personnel in the region" through its positioning in Syria.
Forget anything you hear about gas attacks. This is all about Iran.
What is curious is how we are prepared to go to war in Syria against Iranian influence, but seem to be sanguine and oblivious concerning Iraq, where next month's elections could see Iranian-proxies taking over the Iraqi government.
Iran’s influence is looming large as Iraqis prepare to head to the polls for parliamentary elections in May, with many in the country worried that Tehran may be looking to strengthen its political grip on Baghdad through the ballot box.
Iranian support and military advisers helped Baghdad’s Shiite-led government beat back the Islamic State group. But with IS militants now largely defeated militarily, Iran’s expanding influence has emerged as one of Iraq’s most divisive issues ahead of the balloting.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis last month accused Iran of “mucking around” in Iraq’s upcoming elections, telling reporters the U.S. has what he called “worrisome evidence” that Iran is funneling “not an insignificant amount of money” into Iraq to try to sway votes. Baghdad rejected the accusation.
At the heart of Iranian influence is the Iranian-backed 140,000 man Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) which were critical to beating ISIS after the Iraqi army collapsed. PMFs are one of the most popular institutions in Iraq.
These very same forces that defeated ISIS in Iraq, also defeated al-Qaeda in Syria.
Iraqi Shiite militias, battle-hardened from fighting the United States, began fighting in Syria alongside Mr. Assad’s forces in 2012. Hezbollah captured the strategic Syrian town of Qusair from opposition fighters in 2013. Shiite militias, including Afghan fighters, were pivotal in capturing Aleppo in December 2016, which arguably secured the survival of the Assad regime.
Hezbollah and Iraqi militias such as the Badr Organization, Kataib Hezbollah, Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Harakat al-Nujabaa have emerged as Iran’s most powerful partners on the ground in Syria.
Much of the high-tech weaponry we gave the Iraqi government during the past decade was then given to these very same Shia militias that were shooting at us during the occupation.
There are around 500 PMF-linked political candidates running for office in next month's elections. To give you an idea how this might effect us, consider the second-most popular man in Iraq - Muqtada al-Sadr.
Influential Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Sunday expressed his rejection to the presence of foreign troops in Iraq, vowing resistance against them.
In a hand-written letter released to the media by his office, Sadr, the leader of the Sadrist Movement in Iraq, warned against the presence of the US or any other foreign military in the country.
“Our position regarding the presence of the invading US forces, under the pretext of military advisers, and with the endorsement and knowledge of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is clear,” he wrote. “Everyone knows our position, we reject and resist” the presence of the US troops in Iraq.
Sadr had previously accused the US of allowing the Islamic State (IS) to emerge in Iraq and had warned against any foreign military involvement in the country. “The US or any other nation which deploys troops to the country will be considered aggressors.”
This man could be the next Prime Minister of Iraq.
These Iranian-backed Shia militias that may be on the way to political power in Iraq, are the very same militias that we are about to bomb in Syria.
Think about that for a moment.
They might not be understanding about us killing their buddies in Syria.
Then think about the 5-6,000 U.S. troops still stationed in Iraq.
Our forces in Iraq are outnumbered by PMFs by a factor of roughly 20-to-1.
December 2017: Iraqi Shia Militias Threaten to Strike US Forces
Former Prime Minister of Iraq Nouri al-Maliki, a Shia Muslim, called Trump’s announcement a “declaration of war.” Powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who heads his own militia, demanded the closure of the American embassy in Baghdad and warned that "we can reach Israel through Syria”
January 2018: Iran-backed Iraqi militias pose ‘serious’ threat to US
“The enemy of humanity, the United States, can no longer desecrate Iraqi soil, as the fighters of the Hezbollah Brigades will not allow them to do so,” the statement said, the Kurdistan 24 website reported. The statement contained direct threats to US forces in Iraq.
...“These are the same militias that murdered and maimed hundreds of American and British soldiers between 2003 and 2011,” Orton said.
The Iranian-backed Kata'ib Hezbollah militia on Monday warned it might engage in armed confrontation with US forces in Iraq at any moment.
It is the second, if not the third warning issued by the Iranian-backed Shia militia against American troops in the country since the Iraqi government declared final victory over the Islamic State (IS) in late 2017.
...Husseini said clashes with the Americans “may start at any moment ... This time the Americans will not be able to talk themselves out of it.”
Um, hello? Helllooooo?
Is anyone paying attention to this besides me?
The guys who killed hundreds of Americans a decade ago, that we also gave many M-1 Abrams tanks to, want to kill us again.
I think that's important!