US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Baghdad failed in deterring pro-Iran factions from ceasing their attacks on American forces in Iraq. Shortly after his visit, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani headed to Iran. The attacks did not stop, meaning Blinken’s message to the Iranians – delivered by Sudani – appears to have fallen on deaf ears.
Blinken was hoping that the factions would cease attacking American troops and in return, the United States would cease targeting Iran. Less than 24 hours after Sudani returned from Tehran militants targeted the US military base in Erbil, in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, overnight and again Tuesday morning. The attack caused no injuries to personnel or damage to the infrastructure, a US defense official said.
The “Islamic Resistance”, an umbrella organization of Iraqi militant groups backed by Iran, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying their drones hit their target without giving any further details. The overnight attack on Erbil airbase near the city’s commercial airport was a multi-drone attack. Tuesday morning’s attack was with a single drone, said the US defense official, who was not authorized to discuss the strikes and spoke on condition of anonymity. Commercial flights were briefly suspended.
The strikes are part of an ongoing string of attacks in recent weeks by the Iran-backed factions on US bases in Iraq and Syria, in light of Washington’s support for Israel’s war on Hamas. The attacks bring the total number of strikes on US and coalition facilities in Iraq and Syria to at least 40 since Oct. 17.
The Islamic Resistance also claimed responsibility for other attacks on US bases in Iraq and Syria on Tuesday, including a drone attack on Al-Harir in Erbil province, and on the Green Village base in eastern Syria. The US defense official said there were no reports of attacks at Al-Harir.
The attacks appear to be Tehran’s response to Blinken’s message. Iran has the ability to influence the armed factions and can therefore, order them to stop attacking American forces in Iraq. However, it seems Tehran is unlikely at this time to succumb to American demands or conditions, meaning Tehran has set its own difficult demands and conditions.
Washington appears incapable of meeting them because it would put it in a difficult position with Israel and because it is gearing up for presidential elections. The Iraqi factions, therefore, appear to have no other choice than to openly challenge the US, regardless of whether their demands are met or not.
Source: Asharq Al-Awsat