The USA was the kingmaker in Iraq, but now its withdrawal is inevitable

By Elijah J. Magnier: @ejmalrai

Iraq and the Iraqis have spoken: Iraqi Major General Jafar al-Battat, head of Baghdad area security, estimated at “more than one million” the number of protestors who filled up the Karradah and Jadriyeh in Baghdad. Protestors called for the total withdrawal of the US-led foreign forces from the country. They mobilised in response to the call of the Shia cleric Sayyed Moqtada al-Sadr, in concert with all Shia groups and other Iraqi minorities who want to see the departure of US forces and an end to US hegemony and domination of Iraq. The cost of pushing the execution button launching deadly missiles from a US drone to assassinate Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani and his companions and the Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandes at Baghdad airport will weigh heavily on the US and its presence in the Middle East. The Trump administration is expected to pay a heavy price and the President himself will suffer from it in his forthcoming electoral campaign.

But the story doesn’t end there. Iran and its allies have no intention of allowing a tranquil presence for the US forces in the Middle East until their final withdrawal date. Notwithstanding the distance of all joint Iraqi-US bases from residential areas, there is no doubt the US military presence has become a target.

The US administration and mainstream media attribute the instability of Iraq to the overwhelming Iranian control of the country. This is inaccurate: every single Prime Minister was appointed or approved by the US administration.

The US has never succeeded in bringing stability to Iraq since it began to occupy the country in 2003. US forces suffered continuous attacks after the first year of landing in Iraq by those who rejected the occupation. The US failed to build a robust infrastructure and certainly did not win the hearts and minds of the population even though it had the upper hand in selecting the leaders of Iraq. 

American companies benefitted from Iraqi wealth but contributed very little to the country’s progress and the rebuilding of its infrastructure. The US Army was handsomely paid to train the Iraqi army, and the US armament industry benefitted from massive arms and military warfare contracts. However, this training proved of little value when Sunni rebels and ISIS attacked Mosul in 2014; they managed to occupy a third of Iraq in a short time. 

The US was in control of most governments and was responsible for appointing the Prime Minister for many years. The first Prime Minister, Ayad Allawi, was the “CIA main man”, named by the US-led authority in 2003. Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the second Prime Minister, was elected by the transitional Iraqi National Assembly at the suggestion of viceroy Paul Bremer. Al-Jaafari was interviewed by Paul Bremer for long hours over several days before Bremer gave his blessing to the nomination in 2005. This blessing soon ended when President Bush conveyed a message to the Prime Minister via the US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad that he “doesn’t want, doesn’t support, doesn’t accept Jaafari.”

In 2006, the largest Iraqi political party, the United Iraqi Alliance selected Nuri al-Maliki on the US recommendation: “Maliki’s reputation is as someone independent of Iran. Iran pressured everyone for Jaafari to stay”, said Ambassador Khalilzad. Iran failed to promote its preferred candidate successfully.

In early 2008, al-Maliki became Iran’s most hated Iraqi when he attacked Jaishal-Mahdi (JaM) led by the Sadrist leader Sayyed Moqtada al-Sadr. JaM was a favourite of Iran due to its aggressive stance and numerous attacks on US occupation forces.

However, several months later, Al-Maliki demanded a defined schedule for all US forces to leave the country and end their occupation in 16 months. This decision pleased Iran and led to its change of heart about al-Maliki, even though all Iraqis, Shia, Sunni and Kurds, came to see him as overly authoritarian.

This was the first time Iran managed to bring together Iraqi leaders of all ethnicities to support the candidate of its choice, even though the Americans had first promoted al-Maliki. The stubborn personality of al-Maliki was too attractive for Iran to let him go. He refused to accept the continuous presence of US forces. President Barack Obama took account of al-Maliki’s insistence when he fulfilled his promise to end the US occupation in December 2011.

In 2014, the Marjaiya in Najaf intervened to stop the third term for al-Maliki notwithstanding his electoral victory. Haidar al-Abadi took over, a leader who turned out to be extremely hostile to Major General Qassem Soleimani and very close to the US. 

Abadi overtly criticised Soleimani in several occasions, notably when Kirkuk returned to government forces’ control. Moreover, he planned four times to remove commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandes from his position as the vice leader of Hashd al-Shaabi. During Abadi’s visit to the Hashd al-Shaabi office, he harshly attacked Abu Mahdi for the portrait of martyrs on the wall and asked him to remove them. Soleimani was hassled at Baghdad airport on more than one occasion and had to wait for hours outside Abadi’s office before he was welcomed.

The end of Abadi’s term in office made room for Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi to take the lead. The selection of Abdel Mahdi was a joint un-coordinated choice of both the US Presidential envoy Brett McGurk and Soleimani. Abdel Mahdi was a suitable candidate for the Shia, Sunni and above all for the Kurds.

It was important for Iran to support a candidate that didn’t provoke the US, recognised by Iran as an essential player in the Middle East. To Soleimani, the stability of Iraq was vital. Iraq refused to abide by the US sanctions on Iran and asked to be respected as a partner of both countries, and not a theatre for their battles.

But Iran certainly didn’t expect the US to brutally violate the terms of its presence in Iraq and wage an undeclared war on Iran. When it killed Major General Qassem Soleimani, US antagonism went way beyond a simple “bras-de-fer” on Iraqi soil. In response to this violation, Iran is taking the gloves off: it is now expected to adopt a much more aggressive approach to the US in Iraq. 

The US assassinated Soleimani in Iraq and this is where Iran’s response-retaliation is most likely to come. Missiles launched against the US-occupied part of Ayn al-Assad base with at least 34 wounded (so far announced) are only the beginning of Iran’s retribution.

Finding a US target in Iraq is not an easy task because all US forces are inside their bases. Locking down these forces and allowing only air traffic is already a blow to these forces who have become, since the day of the assassination of Soleimani and his companions, an irresistible target.

Iran has found in Sayyed Moqtada al-Sadr a controversial but influential Iraqi leader, who himself badly wanted to take the command position in leading the campaign to force US forces out of Iraq. US departure is not imminent. But Iran is a disciplined enemy of the US and not overly impatient to reach its objectives. Tehran is aware that Iraq will fail again to maintain a balance between the US as a strategic ally and Iran as a neighbouring country. And the US, under this administration, feels strong yet lacks the knowledge and maturity to handle such a severe crisis or an even broader conflict with Iran on Iraqi soil.

Will President Trump come to realise the correctness of his predecessor Barack Obama’s decision to pull out of Iraq in 2011? President Trump will be forced to leave, one way or the other—the Iraqis will force the US troops out of Mesopotamia. This will inevitably open the road for Russia, China and Iran into oil-rich Iraq and its population of 40 million inhabitants that represents a desirable market. The sun of US hegemony is beginning to set, at least in this part of the world.

Proofread byMaurice Brasher and C.B.G

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9 thoughts on “The USA was the kingmaker in Iraq, but now its withdrawal is inevitable

  1. Only a few days after my last visit, I am surprised to find the Ayatollahs sent a “history kommissar,” arrogant and condescending, yet another “expert” to make sure there are no deviations from the “party line.” You cannot make this up. Really.

    Lone Wolf

  2. Please stop referring to Iraq as “Mesopotamia”. To refer to a country by a name other than that which its citizens have chosen for themselves and which the country has been know for at least a thousand years is insulting to the people of Iraq.

    But other than that, thank you for your great work.

  3. Appreciate the chronological evidence against the US/MSM concoction blaming “…the instability of Iraq to the overwhelming Iranian control of the country.” I agree the assassination of Shahid Sardar Soleimani was not a simple “bras-de-fer,” his assassins however are not different from the infamous filibustier Bras-de-Fer, who lend his pseudonym to the strong-arm activities that characterize US foreign policy as the empire fades away into the trash bin of history.

    Trump, Netanyahu and Bras-de-Fer will share a specially designated place in hell.

    Shahid Sardar Soleimani was a pragmatic politician who understood very well the tapestry of Iraqi politics, and realized the interests of the US clique inside Iraq had to be factored into a balanced, sustainable equation of power. An open confrontation with the corrupt US clique would have exacerbated the anti-Iranian sentiment, and Soleimani was plenty satisfied with Iran’s broad influence inside Iraq’s body polity, so much so he enjoyed playing chess at “king-making” with the US pro-consuls, ahem, “ambassadors” to Iraq. His intention was never to win, but to keep playing, and he was a master at that, reason he had to be assassinated.

    The US launched the modern corsairs, i.e. ISIS et al, with the sole purpose of creating a pretext to justify their return to Iraq. And return they did, Trump now openly using the US army as a “racketeer for capitalism” (“War is a Racket,” Major Gen. Butler), a destabilizing force whose sole purpose is to plunder, pillage, manage the proxy US forces, and serve as an advanced party to Israel. A modern filibustier, Trump proudly announces his looting of Syrian oil, has his greed set in the Kirkuk oil fields, and will continue to try and get the lion’s share out of Iraq’s oil. Trump’s assassination of Shahid Sardar Soleimani, main architect of the US proxies defeat in Iraq and Syria, proves beyond any doubt the US presence in Iraq is not to fight ISIS, their target is Iran, main obstacle for the US plundering in the region.

    I don’t believe expelling the US will be an easy task, regardless of the political opposition and military campaigns they may encounter.

    Tomorrow, Trump will announce his cackled “Dream of the Century,” nothing but a phony name for a plan conceived to finish the dispossession of the Palestinian people. Netanyahu has already announced that, if elected, he will take the Jordan Valley, that’s the carrot for the Israeli zombies to give him another term. Netanyahu and Gantz are right now with Trump, ready for the “Pillaging of the Century,” most apt name for Kushner’s bastard brain child.

    Yesterday, Russia asked Iraq and the US to settle the exit of US forces pacifically, a warning into what they envision to come if US forces remain in Iraq indefinitely, without a tangible plan of departure. Russia knows another reason for the US presence in Iraq and Syria, is to block the integration of Iran and the ME into the Eurasian Heartland, and to deny Russia and China access to sea routes in warm waters. US occupation of Syria, Iraq, and the ME at large has local, regional, and geopolitical goals, looting oil resources marginal to the main objective: target Iran.

    Blocking Iran’s influence and expansion of the Axis of Resistance, keeping Iran from becoming a nuclear power, preventing the amalgamation of the Eurasian Heartland, restrict Russia and China from access to sea routes, are all part of a single strategy: prop up Israel. Oil theft is used to finance the modern corsairs, buccaneers, pirates and privateers the US has unleashed on the ME, as heroin from the Golden Triangle was used to finance CIA illegal operations in Cambodia and Laos during the VN war, and Colombian cocaine was used to finance the criminal “contras” in Nicaragua, death squads in El Salvador, and to pay for Israel not-so-secret training programs in many Latin American countries, including drug cartels.

    US exit from the ME will not be possible before a substantial military conflict forces them out, and any conflict will have to engage the white elephant in the room, Israel. No long term solution will be possible before resolving the issue of Israel in the ME, once and for all. Israel has to be cut down to size, before the ME can have peace, any peace at all.

    Lone Wolf

  4. When does water and power to the embassy and other bases get cut?

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