US Continues to Escalate Tensions, Raising Fear of Imminent War With Iran

US dials up pressure on Iraq, claims Shi'ite militias pose a threat

Tensions between the United States and Iran continue to worsen, with the Trump Administration ratcheting up allegations against the Iranians, and even incidents that were plainly nothing to do with this latest round of tensions, like Yemen’s Houthis launching drone attacks against Saudi oil pumping stations, have become interlinked in the narrative, if only to present everything as getting more dire, and the situation rapidly coming to a head.

US moves to build up their military presence around Iran continue, and officials try to justify that with spurious claims of Iranian plots to attack. These allegations have zeroed in on Iraq, where Shi’ite militias that the US has tried to brand as “Iranian proxies” might be presented as a threat that is at least tangentially related to Iran.

Iraq militias were seemingly just a cynical talking point to justify the US build-up. It’s been repeated so long though that the US is now dialing up pressure on the Iraqi government, hypothetically an ally, demanding that they get militias in line when there is no real evidence those militias weren’t in line in the first place.

Now, the claims are built around the idea that the Iraqi militias are moving rockets into areas where they’d be within range of US military bases. It’s not clear if that’s the case or not, but with US bases scattered across Iraq, it probably would be hard for the militias not to have some of their rockets near those bases.

Browbeating Iraq may be a good way to increase US tensions with Iran, but it also risks worsening US-Iraq relations, which already aren’t great. Iraq’s parliament is interested in seeing the US expelled from their soil, and the suggestion that the US is going to use Iraq as a staging area for a war with Iran is likely to only enhance that.

While it isn’t unusual for the US to accidentally sabotage important diplomatic priorities when it blunders around talking up wars, it is more clear than ever that the administration’s priority is raising the chances of war with Iran, not trying to secure US ties with Iraq.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.