The second month of 2021 began with preparations by Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) for new round of hostilities.
Kata’ib Hezbollah received short and medium range rockets through Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Kata’ib Hezbollah is a key member of the PMU, actively participates in the fight against ISIS since the emergence of the group in Iraq, and is a vocal supporter of the current attempts to oust the US presence from Iraq.
At the same time, the PMU are subject to more and more frequent ISIS attacks in recent days. As the terrorists appear to be popping up all around. On January 31st, the PMU said they repelled an ISIS attack in the region of Jurf al-Sakhar in the province of Babil.
These apparent appearances by ISIS members coincide with reports by pro-Iranian sources blaming the US for airlifting them. On January 31st, in an interview with the al-Maloumeh news website, Sabah al-Akili claimed that the US military airlifts ISIS units into areas behind PMU positions in the Jurf al-Sakhar region.
So far, US President Joe Biden’s policy for the Middle East is incredibly unsurprising. Any potential withdrawals appear to be nothing more than a pipe dream. The first-ever African American Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw was being reconsidered. Not only that, but it is likely that the deployments need to be increased.
Attacks on US supply convoys have become commonplace, all of them being blamed on the PMU. However, responsibility for the most recent attack was assumed by the Qasim Al-Jabbarin group, which does not declare its affiliation with the PMU.
With the US still leading the way for NATO in the entire region, any exit also from Afghanistan becomes more fiction than reality. This will, in turn, lead to increased Taliban activity, since the peace deal is not being honored.
US troops remaining in Syria is also indisputable, judging by the deployments that have recently taken place.
The responses to these refusals to withdraw will lead to more frequent attacks and accusations from the Axis of Resistance. The answer from the Iran-led group will be not only against the US presence, but also against its allies in the face of Israel and Saudi Arabia. Yemen’s Houthis are responsible for dealing with Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabian fighter jets continue their attacks on reported Houthi targets, but mostly civilians. The ceasefire in al-Hudaydah is not being honored. Despite the Kingdom’s best efforts, the Houthis still have the upper hand in the conflict. On January 28th, at least 150 members of the Saudi-backed forces switched sides and went over to the Ansar Allah movement (the formal name of the Houthis). Additionally, drone attacks are more frequent. The Kingdom reported that it repelled several attacks, but such reports were not as common until recently.
That is when Iran deployed brand-new loitering munitions to the Houthis, and a new group made its appearance to target Riyadh’s ambitions on the Arab Peninsula.
Tensions in the Middle East continue deepening. The advent of reports of the airlifting of terrorists is something that’s been rare since the Obama-era. It appears that the region is once again subject to this known and proven method of “diplomatic intervention.”