Brief: Tensions Flare in Iraq Again

A busy week or so has pitted Washington against Tehran.

Background: Tensions heightened earlier this year after the United States killed Qassem Soleimani, the head of the elite Quds Force in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Tehran responded by bombing U.S. installations, even as the U.S. followed through with plans of a modest withdrawal of troops. They settled into an informal truce last month. What Happened: A lot, it turns out. Iran-backed militias operating in Iraq have taken credit for the rocket attacks last night on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Notably, the attacks come just after an announcement that the U.S. State Department would impose weekly sanctions on Tehran, and after reports surfaced that U.S. President Donald Trump considered striking one of Iran’s nuclear facilities. Over the past 24 hours, the U.S. also announced a military scale-down from Iraq (from 3,000 troops to 2,500) and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, a reformist who Iran wishes to reign in, to discuss bilateral ties. And just a few hours after the attacks, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional rival, agreed to reopen a land border at the Arar crossing – some 30 years after they severed diplomatic ties after the invasion of Kuwait. Naturally, it […]

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