Iran has an operative presence on Iraqi and Syrian territories through Iranian fighters and military leaders who are in command of Shiite militias. Some of them are Arabs who joined the Popular Mobilization in Iraq, Hezbollah in Syria or non-Arab militias recruited by Iran to fight in Syria under the pretext of fighting ISIS.
This is an occupation project that has cost the Islamic Republic of Iran billions of dollars and many lives that got back in coffins covered with Iranian flag. Will Iran easily give up on the positions it occupied just because of some Arab breakthroughs or closures with the Iraqi government or because of some Gulf concessions related to the survival of the Assad regime?
Is the Iraqi government or the Syrian regime capable of taking a decision to abandon Iran and return to the Arab circle?
Iran is keen to convince the international coalition, led by the United States, that it (Iran) is the only and unique force that can defeat ISIS in this region because it is the only one with operative presence on the ground. ISIS cannot be eradicated from Mosul and Raqqa without cooperation from Iran, that is to say that even the international coalition is forced to cooperate with the Iranians.
So will it stand idly and watch the American enthusiasm pulling the rug from under its feet in the region and prove that the elimination of ISIS is possible without Iran itself?
This is why we ask: Did Iran set a trap for American forces when it leaked false information through its Shiite militias about alleged military targets that turned out to be civilian ones and caused a disaster in Mosul?
The Pentagon admitted last Saturday that an examination showed that the international coalition targeted – upon the request of Iraqi security forces – ISIS fighters and equipment on March 17, with reports that civilian casualties resulted from this attack.
The trap that has been set up for US forces causing Iraqi civilians casualties is not surprising and is intended to provoke discontent and outrage that would eventually lead to Iraqis calling for the US withdrawalSawsan Al Shaer
Basma Basim, the head of Mosul’s provincial council, confirmed that more than 500 defenseless civilians were killed in the raids of the International Coalition on the Mosul district, during the Iraqi forces preparations to enter Mosul about a week ago. She added that what happened was practically intended because it did not target ISIS fighters who were not more than 6 in number.
Bashar al-Kiki, head of the provincial council for Nineveh, said that “they are still searching for bodies underneath the rubble.” Iraqi Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi accused the International Coalition and the Iraqi Federal Police of using excessive weapons, aircraft, artillery and missiles during the battle; he called for rapid investigations and the protection of citizens’ lives and dignity.
The American-Iranian “cooperation” on Iraqi territories is a test for the credibility of the US-Iranian relations during Trump’s tenure; the US forces responded to the demand of the Popular Mobilization, which the US Treasury classified as terrorist and sectarian, controlled by Iranian leaders led by Qassem Soleimani.
The Pentagon announced that it was cooperating with it and undertook the attack based on the request of the so-called “Iraqi security forces” but it turned out that there were civilians on the site, which led to many casualties.
The coordination between the US forces and Iranian leaders or Popular Mobilization Shiite leaders, is still in full swing and is not limited to Mosul. The coordination is also on the level of US General Stephen Townsend, commander of US forces in Iraq and Syria, and Abu Mehdi al-Muhandis, leader of Iraqi Hezbollah, top advisor to Qasim Soleimani in Tal Afar and Popular Mobilization Deputy who was listed by the US Treasury on the terrorism list.
Moreover, according to the “Strategic Observatory”, the cooperation is still on between US officers and Badr militias led by Hadi al-Amiri, where Mcgork and Townsend maintain close relations with him since the presidency of Obama.
The Iranian-American cooperation in Iraq and Syria, is still working under Obama’s policies, where there is absolute confidence in the synchronization between Iranian and American objectives. So, are these common goals still the same during Trump’s presidency, or did they change? Do US field leaders have full trust in the Iranian leadership?
Logically, one of Iran’s goals in Syria and Iraq is the withdrawal of American troops and its one-sided presence on the ground. The trap that has been set up for US forces causing Iraqi civilians casualties is not surprising and is intended to provoke discontent and outrage that would eventually lead to Iraqis calling for the US withdrawal.
We should be very careful. Iran will not leave the region in peace, especially that its allies see it as the only means for salvation. The US-Gulf understanding and the American enthusiasm to end ISIS is a threat to Iranian interests.
Thus, when we deal with the Iraqi government, we should not forget that it is, along with the Shiite armed militias, a segment of the Iranian army.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Sawsan Al Shaer is a Bahraini writer and journalist. She tweets under the handle @sawsanalshaer.