The US-Iran Conflict is Playing Out in Iraq
As we noted at the beginning of the intensification of the US-Iran conflict, the Middle East will begin to disintegrate not in Iran, or in Saudi Arabia, but in Iraq, where the fragility of the Sunni-Shi’ite divide couple with a radical Islamic State threat and spillover from Syria. Oil traders have now caught on and oil prices are now creeping up again as the death toll hits over 110 and the wounded have reached the multiple thousands.
The original impetus of the protests is economic: frustration over corruption, economics and basic services. But there is something dangerously different about protests right now, and decidedly anti-Iranian. The key Iraqi general behind the fight against ISIS has been summarily demoted to a desk job, and his supporters are outraged. This is what’s really driving the violent protest surge. The general, Saadi, is viewed as a hero to many Iraqis - and is far more highly respected than the country’s political leadership. But his ties to the US military appear to have become a potential threat to the government itself. His power has grown too great. He is a potential coup plotter in the minds of the highest-ranking actors in government.
What happens next will be of immense importance. If Saadi is replaced by an Iranian-backed general, then this is where the proxy war between the US and its allies and Iran will play out. The only victor will be the Islamic State, which…