The rebellion that began in October against the problems created by neoliberal policies, the ruins of the war and the endless imperialist competition of Iraqi laborers, left behind more than 450 dead and thousands of wounded. Since the day it started, the protests have been poisoned by the imperialist competition between US and Iran. The Mullah regime in Iran has so far put dirty tactics against Iranian activists in the suppression of the protests claiming that the protests are provoked and supported by foreign forces such as the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, the US and its allies attempts to manipulate this huge protests of the youth and the laborers against Iran.
In the past months, while masses were attacking Iranian consulates and centers of armed forces in Iran, in religiously important cities such as Najaf and Karbala, the things were going well for the USA. But Iraq is full of uncertainties in its current form that no one can say “we have won” especially when you face with a figure who has considerable social, political and military powers in Iraq like Iran. As a matter of fact, almost every step taken by the US since the 2003 invasion has worked for the Mullah regime and strengthened its influence in the country. The simplest fact of these 17 years is that imperialist invaders who cannot find a social and political basis to achieve their goals after occupation cannot shape Iraq by the force of stick now. The clashes in the last days of 2019 are the summary of this reality.
Last Friday an American civilian contractor has been killed in a rocket attack on a military base near Kirkuk in northern Iraq. While the US held Kata’ib Hezbollah (Hezbollah Brigades) responsible for the attack, two of Keta’ib Hezbollah hit the center in Syria and one in Iraq on December 29. In the US air strikes 25 people, including Keta’ib Hizbullah’s local commanders killed and 55 injured. On December 31, thousands of people attacked the US Embassy in Baghdad to protest the US attack with the call of Hashdi Shabi, the umbrella organization of the Shiite militia forces, including Keta’ib Hizbullah. While the exterior wall of the Embassy was destroyed by the demonstrators, the masses managed to reach the lobby section. Iraqi security forces attacked the demonstrators with tear gas and plastic bullets. The attack was also a test of the ability of the Shiite militia forces to mobilize the masses and to organize such an important attack. Hadi al-Amiri, the Commander of the Badr Brigades of Hashdi Shabi, and Kays al-Hazali, the leader of the Asayib Ehlilhak Organization, participated in the protests in front of the embassy. This can be interpreted as both a warning and show of force of Iran-related militias against the US.
At the same time, although Iran has rejected the role of Kuta’ib Hezbollah in the attacks in the south of the country in recent months, which has been well protected since the war years in the center of Baghdad since the years of war, Iran demonstrated its capacity. This attack reminds the US embassy raid and hostage crisis in Tehran following the Iranian Revolution and the Benghazi raid, 4 died including the US Ambassador in Libya in 2012.
On the first day of the New Year, while the siege continues; in the afternoon, Hashdi Shabi called on his supporters to withdraw around the embassy. Behind this decision is Prime Minister Adil Abdulmehdi’s guarantees for the removal of US troops from the country. However, it is not possible for Abdulmehdi to resolve such an important issue, which has proved weak in the political rebellion process since October.
For both the US and Iran, there is no limit for expansion of their forces in their Middle East. The US has been talking about withdrawing its troops from Iraq and Syria since the Obama era, but doing so, under the current circumstances it means leaving the region to its enemy. Following the events in Baghdad, a military reinforcement of 750 troops is planned to begin under the name of protecting the diplomatic mission in the country. The role Iran, which is the trainer and financier of the anti-US forces in the country, in suppressing the protestors violently in Iraq proves that it will not easily leave the regions it gained over the years. As the bankruptcy of bourgeois political mechanisms deepens and mass movement of the laborers cannot find its own independent way, Iraq inevitably sinks into the US-Iran conflict.
After the attack, Trump both showed the battle-axe and told that “I like peace. And Iran should want peace more than anybody. So I don’t see that happening.” Trump’s words are showing that the US will keep the tension at a certain limit for now. However, the picture that will emerge after the upcoming presidential elections in the USA will be decisive in the war against Iran. It seems that Trump is happy that the embassy has not been lost and he is not experiencing a fiasco like Obama and Clinton had in Benghazi.
The Iranian front also denounced the responsibility for what happened in Iraq and blamed the US. “The surprising audacity of American officials is so much that after killing at least 25 … and violating the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, that now … they attribute the Iraqi people’s protest against their cruel acts to the Islamic Republic of Iran,” said Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi. “Mousavi denied the American officials’ charges against our country, cautioned against any ill-advised reaction or miscalculation by U.S. officials, and called on the White House to reconsider its destructive policies in the region,” the statement said. In the same way,what happens in Iraq becomes a source of legitimization for Iran and its Mullah regime, which face with a great social anger and suppress every protest with violence in Iran. The tensions between the Western imperialists and Iran and in areas such as Syria and Iraq create a chance for the Mullahs to denounce the protestors as traitors and to criminalize social opposition.
This event is also critical in terms of popular movement that began in October in the country. Because, as we have mentioned before, in the countries such as Iraq and Lebanon which are under imperialist competition and there are tensions between identities, these popular protests can easily be manipulated. Iraqi workers are of course also angry with the US, which has turned Iraq into blood bath since 2003, and the rotten Mullah regime that has played a major role in the creation of this hell through its political and military interventions. However, as the radicalism and popularity of the mass movement shrink, the more organized powers, which are the imperialist forces and their Trojan horses dominates the ground again.