Terrorism

Iran's denunciation of Iraq attacks met with suspicion

By Faris al-Omran

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A vehicle parked in Baghdad's Green Zone in September shows damage from a Katyusha rocket. [Photo circulated on social media]

Since early August, around 40 rocket attacks have targeted US interests in Iraq, with some aimed at diplomatic missions and international coalition bases.

In the most recent of these attacks, on Wednesday (September 30th), six rockets were fired from Ninawa province at Erbil airport, where US troops are based, according to the counter-terrorism division of Iraq's Kurdish region.

The counter-terrorism division accused the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), a paramilitary network dominated by Iran-aligned factions, of responsibility.

On Monday, rockets hit a village close to Baghdad airport, where US troops are stationed. That attack killed five children and two women from the same family.

The US State Department pointed the finger at Iran-backed militias operating in Iraq, saying they "pose an unacceptable danger" in Iraq.

But these militias have not claimed responsibility for the attacks, angering many Iraqis who accuse Iran and its proxies of hiding their hand.

'A manifestation of hypocrisy'

No group or person has yet claimed responsibility for a September 15th attack in which an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded as a British diplomatic convoy passed through the centre of Baghdad.

And neither has any group claimed a September 16th rocket attack on al-Qadisiyah residential complex in Baghdad's Green Zone, which houses the headquarters of international diplomatic missions and interests.

The Iranian regime was quick to condemn them, with Iran-backed militias appearing to follow its lead.

In a September 17th statement, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said that Tehran condemns and denounces the targeting of any diplomatic mission in Baghdad.

Following this statement, the leaders of Iraqi militias affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) expressed a similar stance.

In a post on social media platform Twitter, Kataib Hizbullah official Abu Ali al-Askari stated that "targeting diplomatic missions does not serve any interest as long as they do not pose an imminent or apparent threat".

Jawad al-Talibawi, a senior member of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia, also took to Twitter to pronounce that targeting diplomatic missions "is unacceptable and harms the prestige of the state".

Meanwhile, populist Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said that "it serves no one's interest to lead Iraq through a dark tunnel and into the fiery furnace of violence".

In a later social media post, the leader of the Sadrist movement said: "I do not find it beneficial to target cultural and diplomatic headquarters."

"These statements solely represent the Iranian will," strategic analyst Alaa al-Nashou told Diyaruna, pointing to the militias' hypocrisy.

Militias that had supported the attacks, without claiming responsibility for them, are now echoing Iranian condemnation and suddenly consider the attacks to "harm the national interest rather than serve Iraq", he said.

The Iranian regime's position on the attacks in Iraq is "a manifestation of its political hypocrisy", al-Nashou said, accusing the IRGC of serving its own strategic interests in Iraq.

'Violation of international norms'

In a September 17th interview with al-Arabiya TV, US Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller described the repeated attacks on diplomatic and coalition missions as "a tactic to undermine Iraq's sovereignty".

"Attacks on missions, embassies and diplomatic convoys are a dangerous violation of international norms," political scholar Taha al-Lahibi told Diyaruna.

Protecting the diplomatic presence of the coalition countries in Iraq should be among the government's top priorities, he said, as any threat or attack of this kind bears negative repercussions for the interests and future of the country.

Al-Lahibi blamed the IRGC and its affiliated militias for the attacks, and claimed that Iran's recent condemnation is "an attempt to cover up the fact that it was behind them".

"Iran's condemnation has no value," he said. "The Islamic Republic always lies, even to the Iranian people."

"The Iranian regime will pay the price for its meddling in Iraq and the region as well," al-Lahibi said, as its behaviour will inevitably lead to more international pressure to restrict its plans and efforts to spread chaos.

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