After months of the world's attention focused on the pandemic and resulting national shutdowns and economic pauses, the fact that the US and Iran were only months ago almost at war in Iraq seems a world away. But a proxy war pitting Iranian-backed Shia paramilitary fores in Iraq against US interests and allies has continued unabated, threatening once again to draw in American military intervention.
In the latest instance, multiple rockets were fired on the US embassy in Baghdad Tuesday morning. "A rocket struck Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, the seat of Iraq’s government, early on Tuesday morning, according to an Iraqi military statement, the first attack on the area since a new prime minister was sworn in earlier this month," AP reports.
"An Iraqi official said the rocket had struck near the US Embassy, without elaborating," the report notes. Local media said in total three rockets were launched toward the embassy —though it's rarely the case they hit their intended target. Sirens could be heard blaring throughout the central secured area.
While it's not the first such attack on Baghdad's high secured 'Green Zone' of the past months, it comes amid renewed street protests and popular outrage triggered by accusations that MBC media — a major Middle East broadcaster seen as aligned to Western interests (given it first launched from London before moving to Dubai) — insulted the memory of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the Iraqi paramilitary leader killed alongside IRGC Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani by US drone strike on Jan. 3.
In total four members of the US-led coalition have been killed by rockets believed fired by Iraq's Kataib Hezbollah going back to December.
The tit-for-tat, which has seen Washington conduct major airstrikes on Iraqi paramilitary bases believed supported by Tehran, has seen more and more US intervention even as popular protests demanding the end of US presence rages on the streets.
Likely there's more turmoil to come as Iraq is dealing crises on multiple fronts, including an economy on the precipice given sinking oil prices and the coronavirus lockdown, as well as reports of a resurgent ISIS amid the mayhem.
AP describes further that "The new administration of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who came to power earlier this month, is preparing for a strategic dialogue with Washington, expected to take place next month. The talks will touch on security and economic cooperation between both countries."