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SERWAN ZANGANA: Iraq Caught In Tug Of War Between Iran, Turkey and USA

Iraq’s political situation is not heading toward a bright horizon as various factions and political parties are in conflicts and disagreements. Evidently, Iraq’s sovereignty is continuously under attacks by Turkey and Iran, which shows the weakness of the system. Since the establishment of the Iraqi Parliament and the first election in 2005, the government has not been able to completely rebuild the country after the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein. Moreover, the loyalty of the political parties and factions to Iraq has always been questionable.

It is not only one faction involved; generally, everyone is taking a piece of the pie and leaving people behind. And the corruption is not limited to one department or office of the government. The domestic political conflicts, the affiliation of the Iraqi factions with foreign countries, the heavily-armed militia groups, and intervention of some neighboring countries in Iraq’s situation create a critical situation for the country.

Indeed, believing in a political process and working through various political parties without armed militias would create a safe political environment for everyone. But the question is: Where is the mentality of such a belief?

Also, the various ethnicities and different religious sects, such as Sunni and Shia, which are the two main Islamic sects, are exploited by Iraq’s neighboring countries as each one aims at a different direction and goal. In fact, some of the factions are established by the foreign countries of the region to operate and serve their selfish interests in Iraq.

Now, Iraq is facing a critical situation as the Israeli-Hamas conflict has become a regional  crisis. The United States’ support for Israel has not only created problems in the region, it has put many Arab and Muslim countries, including Iraq, in a difficult place. The United States held the Iraqi government responsible to provide security for the small U.S forces based there after multiple drone attacks by the Iraqi militias. But it was not a surprise that Iraq was unable to meet such a request, which led to the U.S action against the militias.

On the other side, Hamas has also created a major problem which shook the region and caused a humanitarian crisis. Its October 7 attack has only agitated Israel, and hence, resulted in more casualties with no solution for the Palestinians situation in Gaza.

Obviously, the attacks on the U.S troops by Iraqi militias and Islamic groups affiliated with Iran is unlikely to end soon. This situation has created a difficulty for the Iraqi government. Iraq is between two forces. One, the militias that have deepened their roots in the country and the cause of unrest, and two, the U.S as the main power and disliked by the mainline Iraqi politicians. In addition, Iran and Turkey are continuously assaulting the sovereignty of Iraq.

It is obvious that the Iraqi military lacks the confidence and morale to protect the country alone without the assistance of the U.S. Apparently the United Stares’ year of funding and training the Iraqi military did not succeed. The wave of Islamic States organization in 2014 that swept the Iraqi military, including the Kurdish troops of the Kurdistan Region, is an example of such a claim.

Overall, stability of Iraq is unlikely to be seen due to all the corruption infesting the system, heavily-armed militias that the government is unable to control, and the weakness in protecting its sovereignty. It is important to realize that Iraq will not always be protected by the United States. And it only takes one decision for the United States to take a U-turn and leave Iraq. But the questions are: Is the U.S. is willing to leave Iraq soon? And what will be the consequences of the U.S. leaving Iraq?

The divided politicians in the Iraqi government have different answers and perspectives regarding the U.S. presence in Iraq. Undoubtedly, the Iranian-backed political parties in the government are impatiently looking for the U.S.’s exit from Iraq. On the other hand, the trouble for Kurds will deepen if the U.S. pulls out.

However, with Iran and Turkey’s influence and intervention, Iraq will always be at the center of conflicts and disagreements, and the U.S. will remain in the country as long as its interests are served.

– Serwan Zangana supported Operation Iraqi Freedom as a U.S Army translator before coming to the U.S from Kurdistan, Iraq in 1997 to seek political asylum. He was granted asylum status and years later proudly became a U.S citizen. He currently serves as a correction officer in Roanoke.


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