Iraq, Caught Between a Neighbor and a Superpower

The country is a key part of the Middle East strategies of both the U.S. and Iran.

Late in the evening of June 16, Iraqi counterterrorism forces stormed the headquarters of Kataib Hezbollah, a pro-Iran militia, arresting 14 insurgents and confiscating three Katyusha rocket launchers suspected of being part of a planned attack on U.S. forces. After three months of tough talk and promised reform, Iraq’s newly minted prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, had done what his predecessors either could not or would not: crack down on local Iraqi militias loyal to Iran. This was seen as a crucial first step toward eliminating Iran’s foothold within Iraq’s security infrastructure, a move intended to satisfy long-term U.S. demands (especially as Washington has begun negotiating with Iraq over the future status of U.S.-led coalition forces in the country). Some Iraqi officials even characterized the raid as a joint Iraq-U.S. triumph, asserting that three Kataib Hezbollah leaders had been handed over to the U.S. military. (The spokesman for the U.S. coalition denied this.) But emerging details have burst this bubble. For example, Iraqi forces transferred custody of the Kataib Hezbollah detainees to another pro-Iran militia, the Popular Mobilization Forces, which reside under the umbrella of the Iraqi Security Forces. The PMF released the suspects 13 days later, after an Iraqi court […]

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Caroline D. Rose
Caroline Rose has a Masters of Science (MSc) in the History of International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Just before joining GPF she served as a Research Associate for LSE’s International Drug Policy Unit (IDPU), where she researched the nexus between illicit economies and armed insurgencies. She earned her undergraduate degree from American University's School of International Service and has worked previously at both Brookings Institute and the Atlantic Council. Her studies and projects at these institutions covered a range of topics, from Russian and Chinese cyber warfare, evolving American interest within a changing international order, and grand security strategies against state-led revisionism in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific. Throughout she's written for a diverse array of publications including Limes in Italy.