A series of violent protests in the city of Basra has caused a political crisis in Iraq as well as has started influecning the diplomatic situation over the war-torn country.
Last week, Basra protesters flooded the streets, clashing with security forces and torching the provincial headquarters, the Iranian consulate and offices of Iranian-backed Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq and Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba. Protesters also attempted to attack the US consulate but Iraqi security troops prevented this.
The protests left 12 demonstrators killed. Furthermore, on September 8, several rockets were fired at the Basra airport.
On September 12, the White House issued a statement claiming that Iran will be be held accountable for any possible harm to the US citizens stationed there.
“Over the past few days, we have seen life-threatening attacks in Iraq, including on the United States consulate in Basra and against the American embassy compound in Baghdad,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated on September 12. “Iran did not act to stop these attacks by its proxies in Iraq, which it has supported with funding, training, and weapons.”
“The United States will hold the regime in Tehran accountable for any attack that results in injury to our personnel or damage to United States government facilities. America will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of American lives.”
Protests in Basra started over the lack of jobs, electricity and safe drinking water, with hundreds taken to hospital after drinking contaminated water. However, then, the protests slowly shifted from the social economic demands to political and even partly sectarian issues. This situation is common for cases of the soft power usage in order to create protest crises in order to shape the political situation in the targeted country.
Meanwhile, it can be observed as two blocs are being formed by political and military political groups in Iraq: an Iranian-Iraqi bloc and an anti-Iranian front. If this anti-Iranian front is fully formed, it will be likely supported by the Gulf Monarhies. It’s also highly likely that the US and its allies will make an attempt to use this situation in order to achieve own goals.
In the current regional political situation, the ongoing developments in Basra go in favour for the US, which is now able to use this situation to fuel further its anti-Iranian campaign in the Middle East. This is an open secret for Iran and its allies. Thus, Teheran will likely contribute additional effrots in order to promote a settlement of the Basra crisis by political, and if this is needed by miltiary, measures.
The situation in Basra itself remains tense turning it into the area, which can be turned into a new hot point in the Middle East.