BAGHDAD: The anti-Iranian Iraqi Shiite cleric, Muqtada Al-Sadr, has called on all Iraqis to take to the streets in massive demonstrations across the country on Friday to show their rejection to be involved in the US-Iran conflict, and he threatened to consider whoever involves Iraq with war as “an enemy,” a statement said.
The tension between the US and Iran is at its peak, especially after the US withdrew from the nuclear deal, imposing economic sanctions on Iran and threatening military attacks if Iran attacks US interests in the Middle East.
Iraq has been a battleground for the great powers in the region, especially America and Iran, since 2003. Iraqi leaders believe that the country will be the first confrontation zone between the two countries in the event of a war, especially since Iran has great influence in Iraq and controls armed factions that could target US interests at any time.
Sadr, who has millions of followers and controls one of the largest Shiite factions, has publicly distanced himself and his fighters from the Iranians for years. It has criticized them on several occasions for “their blatant interference in Iraqi affairs and their quest to control the country using their armed arms.”
Despite Sadr’s hostile attitude toward Iran, he still considers the US as his first “enemy” in Iraq, and has blamed them for the killing of thousands of his followers in the years since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.
He has expressed his attitude toward the Americans in his speeches and directives to his followers.
“I am not backing the war between Iran and the US and I am not (supporting any situation) that involves Iraq in this war and makes it a battlefield,” Sadr said.
“We need a serious pause to keep Iraq away from this fierce war that will burn everything.”
Iran has formed, trained and equipped dozens of Shiite, Sunni, Christian and Yazidi factions over the past years.
All American interests are located within the range of these factions’ rockets.
Restraining and controlling these factions is one of the biggest challenges facing Iraqi leaders.
A rocket fired by unknown gunmen on Sunday targeting the Green Zone, the most fortified area in Baghdad that hosts most of the governmental buildings and embassies, including the US embassy, has embarrassed the Iraqi government and intensified fears that Iraqi factions
could spark a war between Iran and the US.
Sadr called on Iraqis to take part in mass demonstrations on Friday evening in all provinces — except the holy city of Najaf.
“We need to raise the Iraqi people’s voice condemning the war … it would be the end of Iraq if this war broke out,” Sadr said.
“Any party that involves Iraq in the war and makes it a battleground (for Iran and the US) will be an enemy of the Iraqi people,” the Iraqi leader said.
1884 08 10 19:07 UTC
This severe earthquake affected an area roughly extending along the Atlantic Coast from southern Maine to central Virginia and westward to Cleveland, Ohio. Chimneys were knocked down and walls were cracked in several States, including Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Many towns from Hartford, Connecticut, to West Chester,Pennsylvania.
Property damage was severe at Amityville and Jamaica, New York, where several chimneys were “overturned” and large cracks formed in walls. Two chimneys were thrown down and bricks were shaken from other chimneys at Stratford (Fairfield County), Conn.; water in the Housatonic River was agitated violently. At Bloomfield, N.J., and Chester, Pa., several chimneys were downed and crockery was broken. Chimneys also were damaged at Mount Vernon, N.Y., and Allentown, Easton, and Philadelphia, Pa. Three shocks occurred, the second of which was most violent. This earthquake also was reported felt in Vermont, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Several slight aftershocks were reported on August 11.
President Barack Obama withdrew American combat forces from Iraq in 2011, and by 2014, they would be deployed to assist the Iraqi forces in their fight against the Islamic State in northern and western Iraq.
Iranian-supported militias were allies with the U.S.-backed Iraqi troops, and President Trump’s decision to deploy a U.S. naval carrier group and bomber planes to the Persian Gulf – because of what seems an unsubstantiated Iranian threat – has the potential to be a real game-changer in this region. Iraq is caught between Iran and the U.S. in a potential power play. This recent escalation of tensions in the Persian Gulf is transpiring in the aftermath of Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran Nuclear Agreement.
Leaked evidence include photos of Iranian Revolutionary Guards uploading missiles, presumably to attack American and Allied shipping that passes through the Straits of Hormuz. It is no secret much of the world’s oil supplies pass through this waterway that is only 24 miles wide, and the U.S. has been down this road before regarding tensions in the Persian Gulf that threaten crude oil on the global market. In the 1980s, despite the fact that the Reagan administration knew Iraq was using chemical weapons against Iran in the Iran-Iraq War, the much larger concern was protecting Iraqi oil from attacks by Iran. Iran had felt the brunt of the American alignment with Saddam Hussein during that conflict, as Iranian patrol boats had been attacked, and Iranian oil platforms were being destroyed by U.S. forces. A U.S. warship in 1988 shot down an Iranian Airbus, killing nearly 300 civilians.
Many Iranians have a deep-seated hatred of Americans, and it goes far beyond U.S. military intervention in the Iran-Iraq War, backing out of a nuclear deal, or the deployment of U.S. forces to a region with a history of U.S. involvement. The 1953 coup that brought about the overthrow of Mohammad Mosaddegh helped to sow the seeds of resentment toward the American government when President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave the green light for CIA covert action that resulted in propping the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi as the legitimate ruler.
Once the Shah was in power, Pahlavi set out on a bold infrastructure improvement plan, and while this included transportation and irrigation systems and health care, many Iranians resented the Western influence. They saw the regime was based on U.S. power and greed, as well as what some viewed as a regime antithetical to Islam. Many Iranians rejected the authoritarian rule, and dissent was suppressed by the Savak, the secret police force. By the early 1970s, as oil revenues were increasing in Iran, many were enraged at the income disparity tied to oil wealth. Discontent among the Shiite clergy, lower classes, and students would lead to a revolution, and by January 1979, the Shah fled Iran.
Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton has said, “The U.S. is not seeking war with the Iranian regime.” Yet Bolton has spoke of a U.S. military response in the event of an attack by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, regular Iranian forces, and proxy groups to include Iran’s renowned proxy, Hezbollah. While the U.S. military might eclipse Iran in numbers and overall military infrastructure, Iran does not require a mammoth navy to impede shipping through the Straits of Hormuz, which could paralyze the supply of oil on a global level, and ravage economies.
Brent Been is a Tahlequah educator who is currently teaching at Alice Robertson Junior High in Muskogee.