Do US Attacks Portend More Regional Violence in Iraq, Syria?

Biden is provoking somebody, but it's not Iran

Sunday’s overnight attack by the Biden Administration hit putative targets in Iraq and Syria. The targets were supposed to be an Iraqi militia that was backed by Iran, and this quickly was expanded in narratives into just being Iran.

As Biden steps up violence in Iraq and Syria, the media is making some predictions of Iran retaliating. Yet realistically Iran isn’t the one that was attacked in the first place, it was an Iraqi Shi’ite militia, at best, and Syrian civilians and food depots at least in part.

We’ve already seen retaliation against US troops in Syria, by the targeted Iraqi militia. This has led to some escalation of violence, talk of open warfare, and some serious criticism from the Iraqi government, which termed it a sovereignty violation.

Other Iraqi militias are trying to keep things calm, assuming the US doesn’t further escalate, and that’s a big “if” with the Biden Administration seeing this as yet another round of attacks against Iran.

Irrespective of how the US sees it, Iran is largely uninvolved. The targeted militia is Shi’ite, but has only nominal loyalty to Iran, and Iran’s loyalty to them is probably even more limited in practice. Iran offered criticism of Biden for the attacks, but doesn’t seem to be at play in attacking anybody.

If the US further escalates this fighting, it’s likely to be with Iraqi factions, and at the expense of US-Iraq ties. The US may stubbornly keep talking about Iran, but that is just a misunderstanding that the US has gotten in the habit of repeating.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.