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Baghdad Green Zone Attack: Possible Scenarios

Alwaght– The Iraqi military on Saturday reported that two Katyusha rockets hit the capital Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone. So far, no party claimed responsibility. The provocative move triggers two scenarios about the motivations for the attack.

First Scenario: Third-party governments’ warmongering

The best way to the reality is to examine that the fired rocket that landed close to the American embassy realizes the interests of which sides, amid escalatory remarks made by the White House leaders that paved the way for other parties to fuel the fire. Following the US strike group’s arrival in the regional waters, the US acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan stated that the US will hold Iran responsible for any attack on the American forces or interests in the region. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a recent visit to Finland said that Iran will be held responsible in case of attacks by third parties and militias on the US interests.

In such a condition, parties such as the Israeli regime can make such moves in Iraq in a bid to fuel an American-Iranian confrontation. Recently, Al-Nakheel news outlet of Iraq in a report pointed to the Israeli intelligence presence in Iraq under the cover of Jordanian business companies. The outlet published a detailed list of places where Mossad is active in Iraq regions including Baghdad and Kirkuk.

The Israeli Channel 13 in mid-April reported that Mossad delivered to the White House a warning about possible Iranian sabotage activities against American targets in Iraq. The interesting thing is that Meir Ben-Shabat, the Israeli national sect advisor in person handed over the information to the White House during a meeting with the officials there. Following Fujairah Port attack, the Israeli officials tried blame Iran for the explosions. So, any escalation and possibly war between Iran and the US in Iraq has been an Israeli wish. Tamir Heyman, the Israeli Military Intelligence chief, and other Israeli intelligence figures in January said that Iran’s influence in Iraq contained a threat to Tel Aviv, claiming that Iraq was under the sway of IRGC’s Quds Force. They think that attributing the attacks in Iraq to Tehran even if does not raise the chances of confrontation with Washington will help cut the Iranian influence in the neighboring country.

Second scenario: Pressing Iran for negotiations

The earlier ground preparations by the US administration strengthen the theory that US proxies were behind the attack in the Green Zone. In his latest trip to Baghdad, Pompeo urged Iraqi officials to protect the American forces and interests in Iraq against what he called Iran’s security threats. The security warning issued by the White House to the Americans in Iraq increases the possibility of the US having hands in the incident. The US embassy in a statement issued last week called on the American citizens to avoid presence in Iraq’s public places. This is while Iranian citizens outnumber the US’s in Iraq. Iranians round the year visit Iraq for holy sites pilgrimage, which means any insecurity in Iraq contradicts the Iranian interests.

The Iranian representation mission at the UN had earlier warned about possible US pretext-makings for escalation of tensions with Iran. The State Department’s May 16 order for non-emergency staff to leave the US embassy in Iraq was the last act in a propagandistic play against Iran. Before the attack, the US evacuated Exxon Mobil employees from Iraq’s Basra as alleged risks of attacks on them grew bigger.

There are three reasons that drive to the theory that Trump administration has hands in recent attacks.

Bringing Iran to negotiating table

For the 2020 election success, Trump needs a cogent justification for his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, having in mind that the most significant foreign policy case in his administration so far has been Iran. If Iran case remains unsettled, he may see his position undermined in the presidential race, regarding that so far the North Korea talks and trade war with China have not gone the direction Trump wanted. On the heels of Baghdad rocket attack, Trump posted a threatening anti-Iranian tweet. Responding to him, Wendy Sherman, a previous administration diplomat who helped the Iran deal negotiations, told “perhaps you think the ‘fire and fury’ North Korea approach will work here to get Iran to meet with you,” implying that Trump is applying a hostile approach against Tehran to force Iranian officials meet him.

Money laundering charges and shifting Congress attention

The New York Times has recently reported that some of Trump and his son-in-law financial transactions were suspicious of money laundering. The bank under the charges declined to track the transactions for transparency, however. Addressing the case, a number of lawmakers called for opening an investigation into the claims of suspicious transactions by businesses related to Trump. They also called on the charged bank to deliver a report on the case.

The congress’s obsession with the West Asian tension, Trump thinks, can distract it from the money laundering case. The distraction method is regularly used by Trump to reduce home pressures.

Getting EU on US side

The rocket hit an area hosting buildings of other foreign countries’ consulates and embassies. The European countries more than the US need stability in Iraq and the EU negative position towards Trump’s Iran stance has represented a firm obstacle ahead of his Iran policy after pullout from the deal. Firing the rockets at a time when the fingers of the blame can be pointed at Iran can help Trump bring the EU to his side in the unfolding pressure campaign.

Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran, said that the US counts on the European military help in the face of the so-called Iranian threats. Last week, Mike Pompeo canceled a scheduled visit to Moscow and crashed an EU meeting on Iran and regional tensions in Brussels. His aim was to deliver to EU and NATO information on the alleged “Iran threats.” The string of US officials’ diplomatic visits along with the frequency of attacks may very well vindicate the speculations that the US has hands in the attacks to prove its largely baseless anti-Iranian claims.

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