Will Iraq ever stop rocket fire and attacks on US and Western countries?

Since July 23 there have been at least 32 attacks on US or foreign forces.

A member of Hashd al-Shaabi waves a flag of Kataib Hezbollah militia group during a protest to condemn air strikes on bases belonging to Hashd al-Shaabi (paramilitary forces), outside the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad (photo credit: REUTERS)
A member of Hashd al-Shaabi waves a flag of Kataib Hezbollah militia group during a protest to condemn air strikes on bases belonging to Hashd al-Shaabi (paramilitary forces), outside the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Parts of Iraq’s government want to put an end to the increasing harassment campaign aimed at the US Embassy and other Western countries that have forces there.
In recent weeks there have been attacks almost every day either aimed at the US Embassy and the Green Zone or against logistics convoys that supply American personnel. Iraq says it will send elite counterterrorism forces to find the rocket launchers that targeted diplomats. Since July 23, there have been at least 32 attacks on US or foreign forces.
The US is cutting back its presence in Iraq to only a few thousand troops, and many will be in the friendly Kurdistan Autonomous Region. It has the Union III base in Baghdad’s Green Zone, another near Baghdad’s airport and an air base at al-Asad.
The US-led coalition against ISIS handed over more than half a dozen facilities on various bases to the Iraqis over the last eight months. This comes in the wake of a year and a half of rocket attacks on bases where US troops are stationed.
The attacks killed four personnel. In retaliation, the US carried out airstrikes last December and this March. Pro-Iranian groups, led by members of the government-paid Popular Mobilization Units and IRGC Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, attacked the US Embassy in December. A US drone strike killed Soleimani in January.
Iraq appears to be partly lawless as groups likely affiliated with part of the government are involved in attacks on the diplomatic zone in Baghdad, the airport and convoys. These groups are usually directed by pro-Iranian Kataib Hezbollah, but they have adopted names that make them seem “independent.”
This is how Iran operates to achieve plausible deniability. It undermines the rule of Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi, who has sought to balance Iraq’s different factions and pull the country out of economic malaise and a year and a half of crises.
In June, Kadhimi sent the counterterrorism service to raid Kataib Hezbollah and detain some of its members. But they were released days later. The Iraqi government has sent the counterterrorism service to search for rocket launchers used in attacks on the Green Zone, according to recent reports. It is unclear if Iraq can fulfill its promises to stop the attacks on diplomatic facilities.
Facilities were attacked on July 23, August 3, 9, 23 and 26, September 2, 3, 5, 7, 15, 18 and 21; rockets were fired on July 24, 27, 28, 30 and 31, August 3, 5, 11, 14, 15, 16, 18, 28, 29 and 30, September 6, 7, 10, 15, 16 and 20. This is an unprecedented level of attacks.
The US has reinforced its air defense with the C-RAM defense system to counter the threats. Some of the attacks appear to send a message and to harass the US, rather than to inflict casualties. US commanders indicate that Iran is deterred, although it calls this “contested deterrence.”


Tags Iraq baghdad