Donald Trump, following his promise to stop America’s grinding conflicts with the Middle East, has failed to withdraw troops from Iraq.
Officials in Iraq’s parliament, where powerful blocs have unbreakable ties with Tehran, began the process to end the presence of foreign troops in Iraq is a clear response to the U.S. after killing top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani two weeks ago in a drone strike in Baghdad.
Joint US-Iraq operations against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have been put on hold, and Adel Abdul-Mahdi said the withdrawal of US forces was the only way to secure all those on Iraqi soil.
However, experts say a withdrawal from the US could bring even more trouble. As ISIS continues attacks in the country, the group would have more room to resurge without the U.S and other foreign troops. Iran will also be able to expand its already far-reaching powers in Baghdad at the same time.
Since the U.S. invasion of 2003, Tehran and Washington have battled for control in Iraq. The consistent and coherent policy lacking in the U.S has helped Tehran to slowly weave itself into Iraq’s fabric of daily life.
Iran has capitalised on years of war and invasion to form militia groups which have become official branches of the Iraq military while providing a huge amount of exports of which the Iraq civilians rely on economically. Iran has made surrogates out of senior officials and leaders of the Iraq government.
As a result of those links, it is not surprising that the Iraq parliament has decided to side with Iran after the deadly attack on Soleimani. The strike seems to have backfired, to the benefit of Iran’s long-term objective: to get the US out of the region.