Caught between US and Iran, Iraqis face choices in elections

A seemingly perpetual battlefield caught under the tension between the United States and Iran, Iraq goes to elections at a time when the domestic discontent towards the eastern neighbour and criticism towards the American presence are at their height, paving way for an uncertain future of the US-Iran relationship that has haunted Iraq for years.

The early elections, a response from interim Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to the mass protest movement in 2019, would in a way serve as a testimony to how Iraq perceives Iran and the US, and at large, the relationships with the country’s two most important partners.The US and Iran have long been using Iraq as a proxy in competing for regional interests. The assassinations in January in 2020 of General Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, one being the top Iranian commander and the other being the then-deputy head of the Popular Mobilisation Forces, opened the curtain for a series of tit for tat escalatory confrontations between the US and Iran with sanctions and rockets – all happening on the Iraqi soil.

Al-Kadhimi has taken an active role in trying to mediate, and the tension between the US and Iran has since abated. Still, there is a possibility for escalation, and much of that depends on how these two countries see each other and what stance the next Baghdad government would take, according to analysts.

“The tension between Iran and US peaked in 2020, after which it somewhat eased, but there is still potential for Iraq to fall back into a venue of conflict,” said Sajad Jiyad, an Iraqi politics researcher at the Century Foundation.

Related Articles

Back to top button