Saturday, January 16, 2021

Attack On US Base Paves Way For The Deployment Of Patriot Air Defence Systems In Iraq? OpEd

Iraq has denounced US airstrikes on the country which has reportedly killed six people describing the incident as a violation of sovereignty and targeted aggression against the nation’s regular armed forces.

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President Barham Salih said such “repeated violations” could cause Iraq to unravel into a failed state and revive the Islamic State terror group. Iraq’s security problems will be solved by supporting its government, not turning it into a battlefield for a proxy war, Salih cautioned.

“The repeated violations the state is being subjected to are a dangerous and deliberate weakening of its abilities especially at a time when Iraq faces unprecedented challenges on political, economic, financial, security, and health fronts,” he said.

Earlier, senior Iraqi politicians had also condemned the rocket attack on the US military base which killed two American and one British soldier. President Barham Saleh and parliamentary speaker Mohammed al-Halbusi had called the incident “a terrorist attack” against “Iraq and its security.”

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The UN mission in Iraq had called for “maximum restraint on all sides.” “These ongoing attacks pose a clear and significant threat to the country, and the danger of criminal acts by armed groups remains a constant problem,” the mission said in a statement. “The last thing Iraq needs is to serve as a battlefield for blood feud and external battles.”

18 rockets were fired on the evening of March 11, presumably from the Katyusha rocket launchers towards the Taji military base which is located in the north of Baghdad, where coalition forces are stationed. This was the deadliest attack on the American coalition base on Iraqi territory in recent years.

Not a single group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks. According to earlier reports, one of the pro-Iranian militias that make up the predominantly Shiite militia – Popular Mobilization Force (Hashd al-Shaabi) of Iraq was behind the attack.

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According to experts talking to the EurAsian Times, the rocket attacks at the Taji base could have been perpetrated by the Iraqi Kata’ib Hezbollah or Hezbollah Brigades which is a part of People’s Mobilization Force (Hashd al-Shaabi) and enjoys Iranian backing.

The Pentagon later said that the US conducted “defensive precision strikes” against the Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah facilities across Iraq, in an attack that was in response to an earlier rocket barrage that killed two US troops and one British soldier.

Experts suggest that the American side will try to use the March 11 incident to obtain permission from Baghdad to deploy air defence systems in the Arab Republic which the US has been contemplating for a long time.

At the same time, this could also be an end of discussions on the withdrawal of US troops from the country, which the Iraqi parliament called for at the beginning of the year. Currently, there are about 5,200 US troops and officers deployed in the country.

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As EurAsian Times reported, the United States is in the process of deploying anti-aircraft defence systems in Iraq to “protect the US forces in the event of a potential Iranian attack.” The head of the Central Command of the US Armed Forces (CENTCOM), General Kenneth Mckenzie, said this on March 10 during a hearing in the Committee on Armed Forces of the House of Representatives of the US Congress.

Earlier this year, the Pentagon announced that it was trying to obtain permission from Iraq to import Patriot air defence systems into this Arab country “to better protect US troops after Iran’s missile strike on January 8th.”

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