Another missile attack on U.S. forces in Iraq

The good news is that we didn’t lose any U.S. or allied troops’ lives. The bad news is that at least ten rockets rained down on the Ain al-Asad airbase in Anbar province, Iraq this morning. The launching spot for the rockets has already been located over the border in eastern Syria. Considering the fact that the Biden administration launched missile attacks on multiple, Iranian-controlled targets along the border between Syria and Iraq last week, most military analysts aren’t going to be particularly surprised by this development. But it does highlight the fact that the situation in northern Syria is far from settled. Multiple players are on the move in that region and the United States no longer controls the ground game. (Associated Press)

At least 10 rockets targeted a military base in western Iraq that hosts U.S.-led coalition troops on Wednesday, the coalition and the Iraqi military said. It was not immediately known if there were any casualties.

The rockets struck Ain al-Asad airbase in Anbar province at 7:20 a.m., spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto said.

Later, the Iraqi military released a statement saying the attack did not cause significant losses and that security forces had found the launch pad used for the missiles.

It was the first attack since the U.S. struck Iran-aligned militia targets along the Iraq-Syria border last week…

Nobody was taking “credit” for the attack as of this morning, but I don’t think we’re going to need to call in Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin to figure this out. Neither ISIS nor al Qaeda has that kind of hardware unless Iran gives it to them. Iran is still upset over the loss of terrorist organizer Qassim Soleimani last year in an American strike. Since then there have been a series of tit-for-tat strikes, some of which proved deadly. (A contractor from the Philippines working for American forces was killed during an Iranian missile strike earlier this year.)

Ever since Donald Trump withdrew some of our forces from Iraq, we’ve been primarily concentrated in just Baghdad and the Ain al-Asad airbase. Unfortunately, that makes it fairly easy for the Iranian-backed militants to locate a target when they want to hit us.

This action further complicates the plans for the Pope to visit Iraq this weekend. It’s not as if the radical Islamist terrorists are big fans of Christianity to begin with, but the Pontiff would undoubtedly be one of the biggest potential targets they could ever hope to hit. It’s not technically our responsibility to protect the Pope and it was his decision to travel there, but I do wonder if the value of spreading the Good Word in a war-torn region like that is really worth the risk.

Liberals who were already tired of a “warmonger” like Donald Trump were critical of Joe Biden for last week’s American missile strike against the Iranian militias. What sort of response will they have to these events? Biden is in a tricky situation at the moment when it comes to Iraq. Can he afford to turn a blind eye to these latest attacks? Alternately, if he authorizes another proportional response in the coming weeks he’s going to look like he’s simply continuing the foreign policy plan of Trump and dragging out this fight indefinitely.

Much the same as with Afghanistan, Joe Biden has some tough decisions to make about Iraq and Syria. We either need to get out of there entirely and effectively ceded the entire territory to Iran, Syria, Turkey, and Russia, or we need to have enough of a presence there to keep our own troops and our allies secure from these sorts of attacks. Both paths are politically problematic back home.