I made a quip about the deteriorating relationship between the U.S. and Iran in my post on Afghanistan, but it appears things may be collapsing faster than originally believed. Iran reportedly fired multiple rockets into Baghdad this evening hitting Camp Taji.
— Barzan Sadiq (@BarzanSadiq) December 29, 2019
There are now reports coming in that Iran has upped the ante by striking a US military base north of Baghdad. This is quickly becoming a transformational escalation, one that risks becoming a full-fledged conflict between the US and Iran on Iraqi soil.
— Ranj Alaaldin (@RanjAlaaldin) December 29, 2019
An Iraqi spokesperson told AFP the rockets didn’t cause any casualties and it isn’t known how much damage the base sustained. The Pentagon has not confirmed the rocket attack.
The rocket attack, if it happened, might be in response to five airstrikes by the U.S. military against Hezbollah in Iraq and Syria earlier in the day. The Pentagon labeled the strikes as defensive citing earlier rocket attacks by the group.
Recent KH strikes included a 30-plus rocket attack on an Iraqi base near Kirkuk that resulted in the death of a U.S. citizen and injured four U.S. service members and two members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).
KH has a strong linkage with Iran’s Quds Force and has repeatedly received lethal aid and other support from Iran that it has used to attack OIR coalition forces.
The OIR coalition is in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS and provide advice and assistance to the ISF. The U.S. and its coalition partners fully respect Iraqi sovereignty, and support a strong and independent Iraq. The U.S., however, will not be deterred from exercising its right of self-defense.
The Defense Department also suggested more “defensive actions” would happen if Hezbollah didn’t end its rocket barrages on Iraqi positions. One has to think the Pentagon is planning a response if it turns out Camp Taji was hit this evening. Even if nothing is confirmed, at the moment.
The airstrikes from today left 25 dead and 38 wounded,
The concern with any sort of preliminary response is it draws the U.S. even further into a war with Iran, and possibly China and Russia given the recent military drills between the three. It could end up becoming another situation where the U.S. ends up facing Russia and China in a proxy war with another quagmire as a result (see the Korea and Vietnam conflicts). Which simply means more American lives lost.
This doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be a response over the attacks. There’s nothing wrong with Iraq – and only Iraq – deciding to strike back against Hezbollah. You’d think Iraq would be able to handle its own territory given the amount of cash the U.S. has poured into the country since the war started in 2003. Apparently not, which says something about American foreign policy, the corruption in Iraq, or both.
Restraint is needed, regardless of what happened at Camp Taji. It’s no longer an American facility, even though American soldiers are stationed there. It requires an Iraqi response, not an American one. What’s next is probably more American and Iraqi airstrikes against Iranian and Hezbollah assets in Iraq. It would be a mistake to go further and hit Iran in Iran. Unless Congress suddenly remembers they alone have the ability to declare war. Which is highly doubtful.