U.S. officials: Iran likely did not order drone attack on Iraqi leader

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WASHINGTON — Iran likely did not approve of the recent drone strike on the Iraqi prime minister, although it was almost certainly carried out by Shia militia forces that Tehran has armed and supported, current and former US officials told Granthshala News. told.

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A senior U.S. defense official and two former senior U.S. Officer.

“It would be fair to say that Iran does not have that much control over these groups since Soleimani was killed,” the defense official said.

At least two quadcopter drones equipped with explosives Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s residence in Baghdadi targeted In the early morning hours of November 7, Kadimi escaped without injury. According to images released by Iraqi officials, the explosion blew off doorways and broke concrete stairs outside the building.

Iran condemned the attack and denied any role in it.

Current and former officials and regional experts said the drone’s design and components resemble those of other quadcopter drones used by Iranian-backed militias since July 2020, including in several failed attacks on the US embassy compound.

Kadhimi has been opposed by militias, who have sought to marginalize Iranian-backed groups, and their political candidates who fared poorly in parliamentary elections last month. The militia organized protests after the 10 October election, alleging that there was vote fraud, without providing evidence.

General Frank McKenzie, head of US Central Command, blamed The attack on Iranian-backed militias earlier this week and current and former US officials say the weapons, tactics and targets used all point to Iranian-backed militias.

Iran’s ties to its proxies in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East are intentionally opaque, giving Tehran a way to deny responsibility for attacks carried out by its armed and trained partners. But in this case, it appears that the assassination attempt by Iran was not sanctioned, according to current and former officials.

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Douglas Silliman, who served as the US ambassador to Iraq from 2016 to 2019, said the assassination of Iraq’s prime minister does not appear to be in Iran’s strategic interests, as it may expose a volatile chain of events along its border. would be at risk.

“I would be very surprised if Iran ordered a drone strike on Kadhimi. Iran does not want to see a completely unstable Iraq. They just want an Iraq that is out of balance enough that they can have a significant impact both politically and economically. can.” Silliman, who is now president of the Arab Gulf States Institute think tank in Washington.

The head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force, Brigadier. General Esmail Kani made a surprise visit to Baghdad soon after the attack, reportedly calling for calm and national unity. Kani is Sulemani’s successor. Soleimani was killed in the US attack in Baghdad along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces and de facto leader of pro-Iranian militias.

The Qani are believed to have had less influence than Suleimani, who spoke Arabic and had years of experience with Iraqi militias, and no militia has gained that authority, according to Silliman and regional analysts Muhandis. used to enjoy

Silliman said the absence of Soleimani and Muhandis has led to a power struggle between the militia leaders that is still unfolding.

“I think the tension is as much between the Iraqi Shiite militia leaders led by them as it is between the militias and Tehran,” Silliman said.

The militias have committed political wrongdoing and have struggled to maintain their influence since the deaths of Soleimani and Muhandis, said Michael Knights, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which closely tracks the groups.

“Since then, the wheels have come off,” said the knights.

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Norm Roulette, who served for 34 years in the CIA and worked on programs related to the Middle East, said Iran’s proxies in Iraq are not “a stone pillar” and that competition among militias could generate more violence. .

“In fact, as their political development continues, Iran may reduce support for some in favor of others. The former groups will not settle down and that will be a problem for everyone,” Roulette said.

The attack also raised questions about why the US or allied intelligence agencies had not caught wind of the attack earlier and whether Washington should provide more security support, including counter-drone technology, to protect the security of top Iraqi officials, former officials . Experts said.

“The attack also showed that Iraqi and Western intelligence are inadequate on Iran’s proxy in Iraq,” Roulette said.

“If we are to commit to Iraq’s stability and prevent similar attacks in the future, the US and other partners must improve their understanding of militia plans and intentions,” he said.

The CIA and the White House National Security Council declined to comment.

President Joe Biden condemned the “terrorist attack”, demanding that perpetrators be held accountable for the attack on Iraq’s democratic process.

“I have directed our national security team to provide all appropriate assistance to Iraq’s security forces as they investigate this attack and identify those responsible,” Biden said in a statement.

While the attack on the Iraqi prime minister did not serve Iran’s strategic goals, Tehran shared some responsibility for the attack given its long-established support for the militia, Roulette said.

Roulette said, “While it may well be that Iran did not order an effort against Kadhimi, we should not take into account the fact that Iran created, trained, and trained the most likely groups behind this attack.” For this reason, at least Iran takes some responsibility for this attack.”



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