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Hiwa Osman

The first signs of Iran and the United States reaching a common understanding over Iraq transpired during Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s visit to Washington.

The comments to the press after Kadhimi met US President Joe Biden in the Oval Office and the joint US-Iraqi statement were all mere platitudes.

They did not mean much for any observer who wants to know what the status and the future of US-Iraqi relations will look like. 

But thankfully President Biden waved a paper that revealed the elephant in the Oval Office – Iran. There were two handwritten sentences on the paper in his hand: “The US prepared to respond to attacks” and “Iran considering [with] holding back attacks.”

Given the upper hand of these pro-Iranian groups and the increased control of Iran over Iraq’s political and security scene, if the election takes place the way things are in Iraq today (and there is no indication that they will change), the October parliament will be much more militant and Iranian than the current one.

For many Iraqis, participating in previous elections was a statement to say we are working on building our state through the ballot box. The enemy was al-Qaida or the Islamic State group (ISIS), who were trying to create a state from the dark ages.

This time around, there are forces that are undermining the state by infiltrating it, controlling it, and eventually taking over everything. In the October 2019 protests, they killed 700 protesters and injured 23,000. They continue to kill and kidnap activists. Their ultimate aim is to turn Iraq into another Iran and they do not shy away from saying that or declaring their allegiance to Iran.

Neither the government nor the judiciary is able to stop them. In fact, some elements in government, parliament, and the judiciary are trying to defend them and ultimately bolster them. 

With every new turn of events, they become stronger and more dominant. 

As the election date approaches, many Iraqis believe that these groups will be stronger and they will eliminate any competition. They will dominate the new parliament that will “conveniently” start its first session just before the deadline set for transforming the role of US forces from combat to training and advice. 

With such a parliament, it is highly likely that one of its first resolutions will be to consolidate the previous decision to oust the US from Iraq in preparation for a complete Iranian takeover.

Whether this new US position is one of appeasement of Iran or naivety of the situation on the ground in Iraq, all indicators from inside Iraq suggest that by 2022, Iran and its militias will have greater control over Iraq and the United States will repeat the 2011 scenario of disengaging, allowing the country to further descend into chaos and wait for a new ISIS-like force to emerge.


Hiwa Osman is a media developer and consultant, and analyst on Kurdish and Iraqi affairs.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rudaw.

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