The US president seems to be unaware of the dangerous situation in Baghdad, which has been plunged into a climate of violence and instability that has much to do with Iran

Iraq in the crosshairs of everyone but Biden

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For all Joe Biden's claims that the Middle East is 'more stable and secure' now than it was under his predecessor, Donald Trump, the reality is very different. It is true that attacks on US troops and diplomats have decreased, but this may be the only area in which the US has made progress, as the rest of its interests in Baghdad are increasingly under threat.

The country's fragile democracy is at risk as never before; Iran's allies in Iraq have gained the upper hand and the power struggle has led Shia groups themselves to turn against each other.

Just ten months ago Baghdad seemed to be heading towards a democratic future far removed from Iranian interests, but its course now appears to be the opposite. The Biden administration looks the other way as the solution to the problem becomes more entrenched and instability grows on Iraqi soil.

Populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr had won the elections and his alliance secured 329 seats in the Iraqi Council of Representatives, defeating Iranian-backed Shia Islamist parties and bringing Iraq's reality closer to US interests.

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Sadr is an old acquaintance of US forces, and after the US invasion in 2003, Sadr's Mahdi Army became one of the main threats to the US and its leader, a military target. But he has recently changed his tune and positioned himself as a nationalist anti-corruption advocate and against the Iraqi PMF (Military Mobilisation Forces), which is a diplomatic and military target for the US.

Despite his comings and goings, Moqtada al-Sadr now seemed willing to fight corruption in the country, away from Iran's interests in a majority coalition government of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds with whom he could have exercised Iraqi sovereignty.

But this government never materialised. Iran's allies delayed the formation of such a coalition and PMF groups Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada and Kataib Hezbollah threatened to overrun the government and attempted to assassinate Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

Iran did not hold back and activated the second lever to prevent Sadr's government. In their attempt to prevent those who had won a majority of seats in parliament from electing a prime minister and cabinet, they used their control of the corrupt judiciary to implement a measure never before seen in Iraq.

For the first time a qualified two-thirds majority would be needed to form a government, something Sadr's members failed to achieve. His 73 members resigned en masse in June from their seats won at the ballot box and these were reallocated to Iranian-backed parties.

This coup was masterminded by Nouri al-Maliki, who was the country's prime minister from 2006 to 2014. Nouri is known for his corruption and sectarianism, which contributed to the growth of the Daesh in his country.

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Today Sadr is calling for early elections under a revised electoral law to guarantee the democratic process that was truncated, and for all those who supported the change to feel that the fight was worth fighting for.

No one knows if the US could have done anything to avoid this scenario, but what is a fact is that they did nothing to prevent it. In the nearly nine months of post-election conflict, senior US State Department and National Security Council officials visited Iraq only twice.

This absence by the Biden administration is no coincidence, for as one of its members acknowledged, the intention was to "let the Iraqis work it out". It may not have been the resolution they envisaged or the one they would have preferred, but it was the one they allowed. Their enemies did visit Iraq throughout this process, pressured, threatened and cajoled their local partners and adversaries.

After all the efforts the United States has made in Iraq, in which thousands of Americans lost their lives to defeat Saddam Hussein, its inaction during this time seems incomprehensible. In a geopolitically strategic country with the world's fifth largest oil reserves and the potential to become a key partner against terrorism, the US has missed a great opportunity.

But the worst thing is that it continues to do so, its interest in helping to build a democratic Iraq free of Iranian and Islamist clutches seems non-existent, and the country's future moves ever closer to the dangerous precipice that Iran and its partners desire.

Americas Coordinator: Jos茅 Antonio Sierra. 

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