WASHINGTON – In response to reports that the U.S. has carried out military strikes against an Iraqi militia after a rocket attack that claimed the life of an American civilian contractor, NIAC’s Senior Research Analyst Sina Toossi issued the following statement:
“The U.S. strikes on an Iraqi militia allied with Iran come after a rocket attack on a U.S. military base that claimed the life of an American civilian contractor. Once again, Iraq is being driven into instability by outside forces at a time when large parts of the country have been overtaken by civil unrest. It is imperative that the U.S. and Iran walk back from the escalation track and avoid further tit-for-tat strikes.
The dangerous escalation in Iraq occurs in the context of the Trump administration’s reckless and needless “maximum pressure” campaign that threatens to make Iraq an all-out battlefield between the U.S. and Iran. Avoiding this scenario requires a broader rethinking of the maximum pressure policy away from mindless sabrerattling to one that opens channels of dialogue with Tehran and explores potential avenues for renewed cooperation to help stabilize Iraq.
The White House’s aggressive policies toward Iran have led to attacks attributed to Iran against energy infrastructure in the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia and attacks against U.S. positions in Iraq. The fact is that this combustible situation did not exist before “maximum pressure.” During the nuclear negotiations that led to the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, Iran and the U.S. cooperated in Iraq in the fight against ISIS and there was widespread hope that their emerging accommodation of one another would help put the war-torn country on the path to durable stability.
By reneging on the Iran nuclear deal and pursuing a maximalist goal of denying Iran influence in Iraq and elsewhere, President Trump has set the stage for chaos to overtake large parts of the region. Iranian and Iraqi societies have significant cultural, religious, and economic ties, and the Iraqi government has desperately tried to balance its ties between Washington and Tehran. In its misplaced aim to sanction and isolate Iran, the administration risks yet again plunging Iraq into total chaos.”Print