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Response to Iran-Backed Attacks in Iraq Should Be Swift

Response to Iran-Backed Attacks in Iraq Should Be Swift

Iraqi protesters block a road with burning tyres during an anti-government demonstration in the holy shrine city of Najaf on January 2, 2020. For months, their rallying cry has been "We want our country!" Now, Iraq's anti-government demonstrators insist they won't let the dramatic escalation between the United States and Iran steal their thunder. (Haidar Hamdani/AFP via Getty Images)

By Thursday, 02 January 2020 04:28 PM Current | Bio | Archive

American media were unified in their reporting: “Pro-Iranian Protesters Storm U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.” This suggests a need to review how we arrived at this point, and based on that review, to consider deliberately what kind of response the United States of America should provide.

And the president’s decision to send in 100 Marine reinforcements, Apache AH, as well as 750 members of the 82nd Airborne Division is a reassuring measure by the president that American facilities and lives will be protected at all cost. This also bolsters our position with the Iraq government and demonstrates our willingness to engage those responsible for de-stabilizing the nation.

Having served as a member of the 2nd BCT 82nd Airborne Division’s infantry and scout/recon teams, as well as working in diplomatic security for over 5 years in the U.S. Embassy, Baghdad; U.S. Consulate, Erbil; U.S. Embassy, Afghanistan; and Australian High Commission, Pakistan; I’m intimately familiar with the standard operating procedures required to secure a facility of this magnitude and all of its sensitive documents.

Iran’s influence in Iraq has continued to grow stronger due to a lack of both understanding and effective relationship building by the West within the region, failed diplomatic efforts, as well as the inability of the U.S. Ambassador to establish trust and reliance by Iraqi Government officials, and the growing influence of Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) militias in Iraq’s politics.

More specifically, the U.S., Iraq’s central government, and our allies have failed to both (1) accurately identify the threats the PMF militias present to Iraqi stability, and (b) to provide a sound policy for disarmament, rehabilitation, and reintegration that will allow militia fighters an official and salaried capacity within military, federal police, or neighborhood security forces.

Many of the PMF fighters were trained by Quds Force members, and are heavily supported by Iranian commander Qassim Soleimani. The PMF is comprised of approximately 60 “brigades” with a combined strength of roughly three million fighters across Iraq and Syria. These militia are made up of Iraqi Sunnis, Turkmen, Yazidi, with the majority made up of Iraqi Shia fighters.

Given the immediate responses and ability to amass such a large number of pro-Iranian protesters today inside the green zone, it seems that Kata’ib Hezbollah, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, Badr, members of the Mehdi Army (a.k.a. peace companies), and former Sadrist trend members came together in an attempt to intimidate and show support for their Iranian financial backers.

Iranian leaders are aware that they have been losing their footing in Iraq over the past months due to the Iraqi people coming together to rid the country of Iran’s corruptive practices and its attempt to hijack the Iraq political system. Iranian leaders look to Iraq as a major source of financing in the wake of crippling sanctions President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo imposed earlier last year.

Iranian leaders have made several attempts over the past months to silence the anti-Iranian Iraqi protestors through violence and kidnapping, but this has not assuaged the youth of Iraq from rebelling against Iranian-backed corruption and terrorist tactics.

Iran’s desperation to maintain influence over Iraq’s politics has been thwarted by (1) the resignation of former Prime Minister Abdel Mehdi, an Iranian-supported leader and former Minister of Oil and (2) a failed attempt to get another Iranian-supported nominee for Prime Minister, such as the former governor of the Basra province and known Iranian soldier, Qusay al-Suhail.

The resignation of Prime Minister Abdel Mehdi and rejection of other Iranian-supported nominees, the continuation of the pro-Iraq protestors, the U.S. crippling sanctions, strategic military strikes against known Hizballah sites, and continued support for the Republic of Iraq, has left the General, Qassim Soleimani, and other Iranian leaders in Tehran desperate.

This desperation is what led to the ongoing escalation in violence between the United States and Iran. The recent attacks by Iranian-backed protesters in Kirkuk, Taji, and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad are manifestations of the dire situation of the Iranian leaders.

We must act swiftly and concisely to regain trust in the region, support of Iraqi people, and rid the Republic of Iraq of Iranian fundamentalists. We must weaken the Iranian-backed militias not only through military action, but through effective disarmament and reintegration of PMF militia fighters into a united Iraq.

Cory Mills is a highly decorated combat veteran with experience in multiple theaters of operation. He is Founder and CEO of PACEM Solutions International and PACEM Defense LLC, which acquired AMTEC Less Lethal Systems, Inc., in 2018. For most of his adult life, Cory Mills has honorably served U.S. military, diplomatic, and USAID missions. After Mr. Mills was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army, he served as a subcontractor for the U.S. State Department from 2005-2010. During this time, he worked with thousands of diplomatic missions in the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and the U.S. Consul in Erbil. In 2016, the Republic of Iraq credited PACEM with assisting operations which led to the raising of Iraq’s flag at the Fallujah Governor’s Office for the first time in nearly three years. Prior to this, ISIS was flying the flag of the Caliph in Fallujah. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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Iranian leaders have made several attempts over the past months to silence the anti-Iranian Iraqi protestors through violence and kidnapping, but this has not assuaged the youth of Iraq from rebelling against Iranian-backed corruption and terrorist tactics.
iran, iraq, embassy, attacks, militias
Thursday, 02 January 2020 04:28 PM
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