Islamic State group [IS] crisis has affected Iraqi cities in different ways.
Erbil, like much of the autonomous Kurdistan Region, was spared from the
intense fighting, but there are signs of war and other recent conflicts all
over the city.
chunk of the population in the largely Assyrian Christian Ankawa suburb came to
the area from the Nineveh Plains in 2014 when IS swept through the area. People
from Baghdad escaped the chaos following the 2003 US invasion by coming to
Erbil as well. Many are still here, despite Baghdad's improved security.
US President Donald Trump dialling up the pressure on Iran, there are talks of
a new war in Iraq, given Iraq's proximity to Iran and the presence of both
Iran-backed militias and US forces in the country.
Alibek, from Ankawa, does not want this to happen.
course, if there's a war, it will destroy Iraq," he told The New Arab. At
the same time, he thinks that Iran is a cause of problems in Iraq.
been no stability in Iraq since Iran came," he said. "It became
believe an American war against Iran would hurt Iraq, but remain deeply against
Iran's policies in the country at the same time and want them to stop.
the Conflicts of Iran'
It is clear
why many throughout the country do not want another war. There are currently
1.8 million people displaced in Iraq, according to UN figures. Most Yazidis
have yet to return from camps in the Kurdistan Region to their home city of
Sinjar, where slow rebuilding, few economic opportunities, mines and tensions
between different armed groups persist.
City of Mosul is still in ruins. The Islamic State group is still active in
disputed Iraqi-Kurdish territories like Makhmour and Kirkuk.
On May 24,
supporters of fiery Shia Muslim cleric Muqatada al-Sadr, a frequent critic of
Iranian policy in Iraq, gathered in Baghdad to protest against Iraqi
involvement in a US-Iran conflict. The Arabic-language Hashtag "Iraq avoid
the conflicts of Iran" was used frequently on Twitter on May 26.
he thinks Erbil would again be spared the worst of a war, but that other parts
of the country would not be so lucky.
US and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are friends a bit more than the
US and Baghdad," he said. "Baghdad would be destroyed. Here, maybe
there would be a little bombing."
On May 19,
a rocket landed near the US Embassy in Baghdad's Green Zone. Days earlier, the
US removed all non-emergency personnel from the embassy and the consulate in
Erbil, citing threats from Iran-backed groups. For months, Iraqi media has
reported calls from the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) for US troops to leave
the country. Some of the largely Shia Muslim militias formed to fight IS are
supported by Iran.
On May 24,
Trump said the US would send 1,500 more troops to the Middle East to counter
Iran. There are around 5,200 US troops in Iraq to help the country in its
continued fight against IS.
al-Ka'bi, from Basra, said he is against any further foreign interference in
hope, of course, is non-escalation," he told The New Arab. "An
arrival of an agreement that ends the crisis, I hope it results in the
reduction of economic and international interventions in Iraqi affairs."
of Iran is not simply sectarianism. There are many critics in Iraq's Shia
Muslim community as well. Protesters in the predominantly Shia Basra burned the
Iranian consulate last summer during protests.
throughout Iraq's diverse landscape are against Iran, but disagree on whether a
US war against Iran would benefit Iraq.
one student said Iran has not faced any pushback to its policies in the region.
has gone years without any real consequence to their antagonistic foreign
policy," Karrar, who declined to give his last name, told The New Arab.
it is a "worry" that Iraq may get pulled into a US-Iran war, but that
Iraq could actually gain more economic and political independence in such a
will no longer import Iran's industrial waste and its own productions will
bloom," he said. "Iraq will also breath from Iran's malicious
involvement in Iraqs governance."
Are there any informative historical precedents for a US-Iran war?
of Kurdish independence have clear grievances with Iran and are still angry
over Iran's role via the PMU in the Kirkuk battle.
Kurds, it's important that next time Kurdistan moves for independence, no
threats will be imposed by Iranian proxies to take lands of Kurds that they did
back in October 2017," Lawk Ghafuri, a political analyst in Erbil, told
The New Arab.
2017, Iraqi forces, including PMU units, took Kirkuk from Kurdish forces
following the Kurdistan independence referendum. Many Kurds regard the city as
part of Kurdistan, while Turkmen residents and people elsewhere in Iraq want it
to be under federal control.
said he hopes for a peaceful solution to the US-Iran tensions and a deal that
includes Iran cutting ties with its regional proxies. An actual war would
greatly damage the humanitarian and economic situation in the Kurdistan Region,
according to him.
or millions of refugees will flee from Iran into Kurdistan," he said.
"Plus, KRG hugely depends on Turkey and Iran for trade and supply
analysts of the country alike do not know whether there will actually be a war.
Alibek said he does not expect actual fighting.
think they do not want war, Iran and the US," he said.
war is plausible, however, and that it may entail targeting Iran's allies in
Iraq and Syria.
of destroying Iran's middle class through sanctions
Middle Class through Sanctions
believe there will be some significant military intervention of some
sort," he said. "If Iran is not going to be targeted directly, its
assets will in other countries. Most likely Syria. But Iraq is also a
groups and leaders have actually come out against a US-Iran conflict in Iraq.
Leader of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia Qais al-Khazali tweeted: "The
assumed war is not in the interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran, nor the US
It's Israeli interests" following the Green Zone attack.
Hezbollah put out a statement after the incident that the pro-PMU network
Aletejah tweeted saying: "Bombing in the Green Zone by a Katyusha missile
is unjustified, its timing inappropriate, and doesn't serve the public
On June 2,
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US would be willing to negotiate
with Iran without preconditions providing Iran behaves like a "normal
nation." Iran dismissed this as "word-play."
opinions are divided on the possibility of a war, and influenced by which media
and social media people consume, according to one writer and media commentator
people espouse the view that the war will not happen," Diyari Salih told
The New Arab.
some Shia channels are calling on people to prepare for war, while others are
downplaying the possibility.
channels that represent the factions of the Hashd (PMU) that imitate (Iranian
Ayatollah) Khomeini allude to the public through dialogue programmes the need
to mobilise and prepare for war," he said. "The rest of the Shia
channels are convinced a war will not take place."
smartest analyses are the cautionary ones, according to Salih.
few who think rationally about the war scenario believe it would have
destructive economic and security effects on Iraq," he said. "They
think it would increase ethnic and sectarian divisions. And that it would
spread chaos and violence."
Adam Lucente is a freelance journalist. He has
worked in Iraq, Jordan, Tunisia and across the region.
Source: The New Arab