International Order & Conflict
Project Note

US-Iran proxy war rages back to life in Iraq

While Washington and Tehran edge towards a new nuclear deal their conflict in Iraq is rapidly intensifying
Featuring Kawa Hassan

When several rockets hit Al-Assad Air Base on July 7, the bombardment was just the latest in a recent round of tit-for-tat air attacks across Iraq.

The strike, which reportedly injured two US service members at the airbase, came hot on the heels of a drone attack on the US embassy in Baghdad.

That attack came just two days after a rocket strike on a US base in Anbar province – and a week after the US carried out airstrikes against alleged drone and rocket facilities used by Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria.

It’s now clear that Iraq is becoming a key and intensifying battleground in the complex rivalry between Washington and Tehran.

In this, “The rockets and airstrikes are just the most visible part of the battle,” Sarkawt Shamsaldin, a member of the Iraqi Parliament for the Kurdistan Hope Alliance, told Asia Times. “Beneath them lies a whole conflict that is now preventing the Iraqi state itself from functioning.”

This covert conflict between Iran and the US has impacted everything from the country’s parliament to its power grid, its fragmented politics to its water supply.

Meanwhile, conditions for ordinary Iraqis continue to deteriorate in the sweltering summer heat – Baghdad hit 47C on Wednesday.

“People get two or three hours of electricity a day from the grid,” says Shamsaldin, “and there are water shortages, nationwide.”

This in a country with the world’s 5th largest oil reserves and two of the region’s greatest rivers – the Tigris and Euphrates.

“The state is failing,” Kawa Hassan, senior fellow and director of the Stimson Center’s MENA program, told Asia Times.

“Iraqis have no confidence in any of the groups running the country today, whether they are pro-US or pro-Iranian. They are just tired, fed up and exhausted.”

Read the full article in Asia Times.

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