News Analysis: Iraqi gov't faces tough mission in dealing with Gaza conflict

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, November 12, 2023
Adjust font size:

BAGHDAD, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- In the heart of the turbulent Middle East, which is witnessing a bloody conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), Iraq finds itself forced into a high-stakes balancing act between the Shiite armed groups and the United States.

Iraqi experts believe that the ongoing conflict between Hamas and the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip will have repercussions on the security situation in Iraq, especially if Shiite armed groups become fully involved in the conflict against the backdrop of U.S. support for Israel.

On Oct. 7, Hamas launched a surprise attack on southern Israeli towns adjacent to the Gaza Strip, prompting Israel to launch retaliatory large-scale strikes and ground battles against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Nadhum Ali, an Iraqi political expert and a member of the Arab Forum for Analyzing Iranian policies, told Xinhua that the Gaza conflict had an impact on Iraq's security and political situation because of the presence of American forces on its soil as well as anti-Israel armed groups who are a part of Iran-led "axis of resistance."

According to Ali, these armed groups have significant influence in the Iraqi parliament and government, with some of them affiliated with the government-backed Hashd Shaabi paramilitary forces, and others belong to the Iran-led "axis of resistance."

"The involvement of Iraqi armed factions in the Israel-Hamas conflict does not serve Iraq's interests and could lead to a security collapse in the country due to the large number of undisciplined factions that possess weapons, power, and money, and are affiliated with external parties," he added.

Following the outbreak of Israel-Hamas conflict on Oct. 7, Iraqi armed groups launched dozens of rocket and drone attacks on U.S. military bases in Syria and other Iraqi bases housing U.S. military experts and agencies.

The attacks on U.S. bases prompted U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to visit Iraq on Nov. 5, as part of his tour in the Middle East that included Israel, Jordan, and Palestine, to discuss with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia' al-Sudani the situation in Gaza.

After their meeting, Blinken told a press conference that the United States does not want any confrontation with Iran, adding the U.S. will make efforts to ensure that the conflict does not expand beyond Gaza.

He said that "a very clear message is sent to those who threaten U.S. military personnel that they should not do so."

On the other hand, al-Sudani has only narrow options to meet the demands of various factions within Iraq, as armed groups are powerful and can cause political and security instability in the country.

"Al-Sudani realizes that he must maintain a delicate balance between the interests of the United States and the armed groups, who have political wings within the parliament and al-Sudani's government," Ali said.

As attacks by armed groups on U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq continued, al-Sudani issued a statement on October 23 to reject the attacks, saying the coalition forces are only "experts who had been officially invited by the Iraqi government to train and advise its security forces."

"The safety and security of the coalition headquarters in Iraqi bases cannot be compromised," the statement said, warning that al-Sudani "ordered the security services to track down and prosecute the perpetrators of the attacks."

In addition, the continuation of the Gaza conflict and armed groups' attacks on U.S. interests will threaten the Iraqi economy, given that all Iraqi oil revenues have been paid into an account of the U.S. Federal Reserve since the UN imposed sanctions on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in 1990 and continued after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

"The U.S. Federal Reserve Bank controls Iraq's oil revenues and it transfers the Iraqi funds to the Central Bank of Iraq to fund the annual budget plans," Ali said.

Mohammed al-Jubouri, professor of media at the Baghdad-based al-Iraqia University, agreed that the conflict between Israel and Hamas would have repercussions on Iraq.

"Iraq's position is embarrassing due to the armed factions' attacks on U.S. military bases," said al-Jubouri.

He said the armed groups' attacks would threaten Iraq's security, especially since "the U.S. administration called on the Iraqi government to protect its people, and the latter has pledged to do so."

The attacks may prompt the U.S. forces to launch retaliatory attacks on the groups' bases, which would destabilize the Iraq's security, he noted.

Hashim al-Shamaa, an Iraqi journalist and political observer, told Xinhua that "Iraq will not go too far in Gaza conflict or any other conflict, as the country's rhetoric after 2003 says that it will remain neutral in its regional and international relations."

"So far, al-Sudani's government is focused on diplomatic efforts to end the conflict and prevent its expansion, advocating for the establishment of an independent state for the Palestinians, and opening safe corridors to enable the delivery of humanitarian aid to people in the besieged Gaza Strip," al-Shamaa said.

Iraq has realized that all the regional states are not willing to be involved in a war with Israel, he said, pointing out that "Iraq is part of the regional political equation and will be affected if a full-fledged regional war breaks out."

Al-Shamaa believes the ongoing conflict in the Middle East will not end unless the Palestinians have established an independent and sovereign state.

"There is a need to reach a just solution for the Palestinian cause based on political dialogue and the support of the United Nations, the Arab League, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation," al-Shamaa added. Enditem

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from