The Biden administration took the unusual step of attacking Iranian backed militia positions along the border of Iraq and Syria.
The US military struck at various facilities used by Iran-backed militia factions, including Kata’ib Hezbollah and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada. The surprising movem carried out while America is in the thick of negotiations with Iran about reentering the 2015 nuclear accord may prove to be the trigger which destroys any hopes of finishing the negotiations.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby pointed out that the facilities were being used to launch unmanned drone attacks at US forces.
“The United States took necessary, appropriate, and deliberate action designed to limit the risk of escalation — but also to send a clear and unambiguous deterrent message,” Kirby said.
The Popular Mobilization Forces are an Iraqi sanctioned umbrella group of Shiite militias that also happen to be backed by Iran. For years they have been used by Iran to control and influence Iraq, causing havoc for the US forces stationed in the country.
“We … will avenge the blood of our righteous martyrs against the perpetrators of this heinous crime and with God’s help we will make the enemy taste the bitterness of revenge,” the Shiite militia said in response to the US attack.
While the US military was responding to a slew of unmanned attacks on its forces there, still with negotiations reaching the home stretch between the Western powers and Iran over the latter’s nuclear program, the strikes are surprising. One possibility is that with the new hardline and international war criminal Ebrahim Raisi winning the Iranian presidency, the calculus behind the Biden administration’s strategy may have changed.
The Biden administration may be setting the stage for the nuclear talks to collapse on their own. The only question is – if they do – what is the plan for the day after?