By Cody Roark
U.S. Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, on Monday. Attacks have been made on bases in Iraq that house U.S. forces recently. Esper is calling on Mahdi to get this situation under control and end the attacks on these bases.
Rocket strikes against Iraqi bases housing U.S. led coalition forces as well have increased over the past month. It has been warned that these attacks, that no party is claiming responsibility for, are increasing tensions in the region and could escalate uncontrollably if not contained. Although it is believed, at this time, that the groups responsible for the strikes are backed by Iran.
“We need their help in terms of getting the security situation under control and stabilized, but we also still retain our right of self-defense and we will exercise it,” Esper told reporters after his trip to Europe. “My suspicion would be that Iran is behind these attacks, much like they are behind a lot of malign behavior throughout the region, but it is hard to pin down,” he continued.
Esper accused Iran of the attacks after his meeting with the Iraqi Prime Minister, who is also dealing with unrest and protests running amuck in his country. Thousands of Iraqis began protesting over the weekend in Baghdad against America’s involvement in their country. Mahdi has said that he wants to prevent any further escalation that could threaten any party involved.
Abdul Mahdi’s largest concern is jeopardizing Iraq’s sovereignty by taking any major action against the attacks. The Iraqi Prime Minister actually resigned this past month following mass protests against his country’s government. He still performs his duties, though it is only as a “caretaker.”
Tensions continue to rise between the United States and Iran amid these unnecessary attacks. Matters are not helped by the two sides pointing fingers over attacks on oil installations and arms depots as well.
Whether Iran is behind these attacks or not, action will need to be taken in some regard or another. Otherwise, it is highly likely that the attacks combined with the mass protests currently happening could quickly lead to destabilization of the country. Especially considering that recent events have already caused the Prime Minister to step down from his position. The consequences of allowing this unrest to continue could possibly undo all the progress made by both American and Iraqi officials to establish democracy in Iraq. For a country under the thumb of a communist dictator for so long, this is could lead to a perilous situation for the people of Iraq.