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July 30, 2019 10:56 am

Top Israeli Analyst: Only Baghdad Government Can Prevent Iraq From Being Taken Over by Iran

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) marching in a parade. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

In the wake of attacks on Iranian targets in Iraq attributed to Israel, a top Israeli analyst says only Baghdad can stop Iraq from effectively becoming an Iranian proxy.

The strikes reportedly took place earlier this month, and hit Iranian bases north of Baghdad, apparently in order to destroy ballistic missiles.

Writing at the Israeli news site Mako, veteran journalist Ehud Yaari noted that, having failed to entrench itself in Syria due to Israeli military action, Iran was slowly turning its attention toward Iraq, which is farther from Israel’s borders.

Shi’a militias sponsored by Iran, under the guidance of the elite Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, is slowly transferring missiles and rockets to areas where they are capable of threatening Israel.

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Yaari said that the US has thus far succeeded in preventing Iran from taking control of Iraq the way it has of Lebanon and Syria, but it was afraid of antagonizing the Iran-controlled Shi’a militias,  which could renew attacks on the small number of American troops still in Iraq.

As a result, the only thing that can prevent the Iranian entrenchment, which endangers Israel, is for the government in Baghdad to take determined steps to prevent it.

Unfortunately, Yaari pointed out, “the government in Baghdad is weak and crumbling, pro-Iranians play a key role … and the divisions between rival parties are only getting worse.”

All of these factors have forced Israel to “operate inside a country where it has not been required to operate for decades.”

Nonetheless, Yaari said, it was unlikely that Israel could prevent the Iranian entrenchment on its own. Increasing military action, however, could push the Iraqi leadership into demanding an end to Iranian aggression so as not to be drawn into a war with Israel.

“The likelihood of this happening,” concluded Yaari, “is not high.”

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