On December 16th, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said that it expected Iraq to defend the US troops positioned there, otherwise the US had a right to “self-defense.”
In a media availability event, Mark Esper said that the US and Iraq had a very good relationship, but the increase in attacks on US bases in Iraq was concerning.
“Well, I did speak with the Iraqi prime minister. We had a very good conversation.
Of course, I’d — I’d like to speak first about the partnership between our two countries, the progress we’re making and the fact that we — what we want is a — a strong and independent Iraq and (inaudible) Iraq’s sovereignty.
That said, I — I noted my concern about the uptick in — in attacks on the bases in Iraq, where U.S. troops, materially may be, and that we were — we — we have a right of self-defense. That we would ask our Iraqi partners to take proactive actions, if you will, to get that under control because it’s not good for anybody.”
When asked who could be behind these attacks, he said that his belief was that it was Iran.
“Well, my suspicion would be that Iran is behind these attacks, much like they’re behind a lot of malign behavior throughout the region, but it’s hard to pin down. So again, we need their help in terms of getting the security situation under control and stabilized, but we also still retain our right of self-defense (inaudible).”
The US defense secretary made the allegations after he spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi amid protests in the country.
The Iraqi premier has previously called for efforts to “prevent an escalation that will threaten all parties.”
On December 13th, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also blamed Iran for the recent attacks that target bases with US troops in them.
“We must… use this opportunity to remind Iran’s leaders that any attacks by them, or their proxies of any identity, that harm Americans, our allies or our interests will be answered with a decisive US response,” Pompeo said in a statement.
“Iran must respect the sovereignty of its neighbors and immediately cease its provision of lethal aid and support to third parties in Iraq and throughout the region,” he said.
Two rocket attacks on December 9th targeted a compound near Baghdad International Airport, which houses US troops, only wounding Iraqi soldiers in the process.
Every other attack prior to this one, also blamed on Iran or Iranian-backed militias resulted in no injuries or victims whatsoever.
Gen. Mark Milley, the Joint Chiefs chairman also warned Iran against carrying out any more attacks.
“We are in a period of heightened risk with respect to Iran,” Milley said. But the top American commander explained that “restraint in this particular situation is an appropriate response.”
“The ball is in the Iranian court,” Milley said. How they respond and the size and scope of that response will determine a U.S. answer, he explained.
All of these accusations, as usual are accompanied by no evidence to even suggest that Iran carried out any of the attacks, and Iran has denied that it did.
It is also noteworthy to repeat that none of the attacks ever injured a single person, with the exception of the last one, near the Baghdad International Airport, which only hurt Iraqis and no US personnel was hurt.
The US, backed by Britain, invaded Iraq in 2003 under the pretext that the former regime of Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. No such weapons were ever found in the country. The invasion has led to years of insecurity and the rise of militant groups.
Regardless, the US feels at home and it has the right of “self-defense” if the local population doesn’t accept their presence. Even the Iraqi government has repeatedly called for the US to withdraw forces from the country.
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