US soldiers are seen before a handover ceremony of K-1 airbase from US-led coalition forces to Iraqi security forces, in Kirkuk governorate, Iraq, March 29, 2020.

Iran Denounces Foreign Troops In Iraq Amidst Proxy War

Monday, 02/19/2024

Amid escalating tensions over Iran's regional influence, Tehran repeated its stance against the presence of foreign forces in Iraq.

Nasser Kanaani, the spokesperson for Iran's foreign ministry, stated during a weekly briefing on Monday that Tehran views the implementation of a security agreement with Baghdad as beneficial for both countries' security interests.

"We do not see the presence of foreign forces in Iraq as helpful to Iraq's security, and we fundamentally oppose the presence of foreign forces in the region," Kanaani claimed. "We believe they have never been effective in ensuring regional security and, in fact, are detrimental to the security of the region."

Kanaani also expressed support to see the withdrawal of American forces. Iran's proxies in Syria, Yemen and Iraq have launched around 200 attacks on US troops and facilities in the region as retaliation for supporting the right of Israel to defend itself in the wake of the Hamas attacks on October 7.

The US stationed troops in Iraq after the 2003 invasion to combat terrorism and stabilize the country. Their presence continues as part of broader counterterrorism efforts against groups like ISIS, contributing to regional stability. US forces support Iraqi security forces with training, equipment, and advisory assistance to combat terrorism and protect sovereignty.

However, Iran supports proxy militias in Iraq to extend its regional influence and shape Iraqi politics. Viewing the US presence as a threat, Iran backs groups opposing it to undermine American influence and pressure troop withdrawal. Most proxies are Shiite Muslims, aligned with the regime, reflecting Iran's aim to empower Shiite communities and promote its Islamic ideology.

Iraq finds itself caught in the crossfire between the United States and Iran with conflicting interests. Since the US invasion in 2003, Iraq has struggled to maintain stability amidst political turmoil, sectarian violence, and external interference. With Iran exerting considerable influence over Iraqi politics and security through proxies and militias, tensions have escalated as the US and Iran engage in a complex geopolitical struggle for dominance in the region.

The assassination of Iranian Former IRGC Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani by a US drone strike in Baghdad further heightened tensions, pushing Iraq into the center stage of the conflict. Iraqi leaders face the daunting task of balancing their relationships with both the US and Iran while safeguarding their country's sovereignty and stability.

However, the balancing act is increasingly challenging as Iraq risks becoming a battleground for proxy conflicts and retaliation between Tehran and Washington, further exacerbating the already fragile situation in the region.

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