The US Biden administration has launched its second round of airstrikes on Syria this year, also bombarding Iraq, in a move which it defends as forwarding the aims of peace and stability. Yet it only seems like the strikes have worked to escalate tensions with the two countries and Iran.
This Monday morning the US military used F-15 and F-16 fighter jets to strike targets in both Iraq and Syria, belonging to the Hashd al-Shaabi (PMU, PMF). US President Joe Biden signed off on the strikes, without an approval from congress, sparking backlash at what many critics have called an undemocratic move.
The Pentagon said “As demonstrated by this evening’s strikes, President Biden has been clear that he will act to protect U.S. personnel,” in a statement it issued on the strikes. Yet, despite the strikes being labelled as retaliatory and defensive in nature, the United States had not been able to verify that the two militia groups, Kataeb Hezbollah and Kataeb al-Seyyed al-Shuhadda, were in fact behind any of the attacks on US forces they are accused of.
The US claims that multiple sophisticated drones were used to attack its forces and military assets in Iraq, the most notable attack of which struck the Ain al-Asad base, the largest US base in the country. Yet without a transparent investigation into exactly where the drones came from and who was behind it, we are left only to believe the words of a US government that overthrew the Iraqi government in 2003 over its “intelligence” on non-existent WMD’s.
The US airstrikes on Syria four months ago, targeting PMU forces near Abu Kamal, were also justified at the time by US media and the government by alleging that they had struck the groups responsible for targeting US forces in Erbil, Iraq. However, at the time of the strikes the investigation launched into the attacks had only reached a preliminary stage and the only known group to have claimed the attack was a newly formed militia, Awliya Al-Dam, which has no proven connections to the PMU.
Iraq’s Prime Minister, Mustapha al-Kadhemi, condemned the US strikes immediately in an unexpected way, labelling them “a blatant and unacceptable violation of Iraqi sovereignty and Iraqi national security”. This, whilst Kataeb al-Seyyed al-Shuhadda threatened a war on US forces and vowed a response.
The official US excuse of using a show of force in order to deter attacks on US forces and stabilize the country, has in fact only further escalated tensions and created a larger rift between it and its Iraq government allies.
A very specific focus has again been placed, by US media and US spokespersons, on the “Iran backed” or “Iranian proxy” forces that they struck, claiming that a coordinated Iranian effort has been behind the upsurge in attacks on American facilities in Iraq. This is key, as it is indicative of a more hard line approach towards Iran by the Biden administration, especially in the wake of Iran’s recent election cycle.
It may now be that the American government is attempting to bully Iran as a tactic prior to the coming seventh round of talks to be hosted in Vienna, regarding a re-establishment of the Iran Nuclear Deal or JCPOA. If this is the case, it’s either so that the US can later make a peaceful gesture after its offensive action or it is attempting to sabotage the process, both of which will not pressure Iran into bowing to US demands over their weapons programs and dealings with allied countries/groups.
The strikes could also indicate that the US has largely given up on the Iran nuclear deal and is now attempting to show it will behave violently in the region, due to Iran’s choice not to bow to their demands.
Iran’s new President-elect, Ebrahim Raisi, has not put the JCPOA off of the table, but will likely be a lot tougher to bargain with, come his new loyalist governments swearing in later this August. Unlike his predecessor, Hassan Rouhani, Raisi, branded a hardliner by the West, is openly hostile toward the Western world’s governments and is not in a rush to sacrifice his political life in order to enter any deal.
The unwavering hostility of the US government and media towards Iran’s incoming President shows a desire of the West to continue along the war path with Iran. The US government even recently seized the domain of PressTV’s website, along with 30 plus Iran linked sites, showing an open aggressiveness towards even the Iranian perspective, or perhaps perspectives which help show Iran’s side of the story.
The US sanctions currently ripping Syria’s civilian population to shreds were completely missed as well by the mainstream corporate news in the West, along with the illegal occupation of a third of Syria’s territory by the United States, through its proxy force the Kurdish SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) alongside a small US troop presence.