Trump just made the mistake of his presidency
By Within Syria @WithinSyriaBlog – Dec 29, 2019
That may be true or may be not true. Here is what happened.
On Friday a volley of some 30 107mm Katyusha rockets hit the K1 base which houses Iraqi and U.S. troops near Kirkuk, Iraq. One U.S. mercenary/contractor died, two Iraqi and four U.S. soldiers were wounded. Instead of finding the real culprits – ISIS remnants, disgruntled locals, Kurds who want to regain control over Kirkuk – the U.S. decided that Kata’ib Hizbullah was the group guilty of the attack.
Kata’ib Hizbullah is a mostly Shia group with some relations to Iran. It is part of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) which were founded and trained by Iran to stop and defeat the Islamic State (ISIS) when it occupied nearly a third of Iraq and Syria. KH is like all PMU units now under command and control of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense.
To take revenge for the death of one of its mercenaries the U.S. air force attacked five camps where Kata’ib Hizbullah and other Iraqi forces were stationed:
In response to repeated Kata’ib Hizbollah (KH) attacks on Iraqi bases that host Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) coalition forces, U.S. forces have conducted precision defensive strikes against five KH facilities in Iraq and Syria that will degrade KH’s ability to conduct future attacks against OIR coalition forces.
The five targets include three KH locations in Iraq and two in Syria. These locations included weapon storage facilities and command and control locations that KH uses to plan and execute attacks on OIR coalition forces.
All of the KH positions that were hit were in the western Anbar desert, 450 kilometer away from Kirkuk. KH has bases on both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian border where it is engaged in fighting the still active ISIS. The results of the air strikes were devastating:
32 killed and 45 wounded the count of #US violent aggression on #Iraq security forces brigades 45 and 46 last night on a military position established to counter-attack and raid #ISIS remnant at al-Qaem, the borders between Iraq and Syria.https://t.co/pmBZ3fJu9e
— Elijah J. Magnier 🇪🇺 (@ejmalrai) December 30, 2019
The al-Qaem/al-Bukamal border station is the only open one between Iraq and Syria which is not under U.S. control. The U.S. was furious when the Iraqi prime minister Adil Abdul Mahdi allowed it to be established. It was previously attacked by Israel which had launched its assault from a U.S. air force base in east Syria.
It wasn't just Hezbollah Battalions members who were affected, there are also wounded among the ranks of the Missiles Forces / Rocket Battalion which is considered a separate unit apart from the numbered brigades.
— TØM CΛT (account semi-retired) (@TomtheBasedCat) December 29, 2019
The dead include Abu Ali Madiniyah, the commander of the 1st battalion of the 45th Brigade.
The strikes were in total disregard of Iraqi sovereignty and against forces under direct command of the Iraqi state:
In a statement, Abdul-Mahdi said Defense Secretary Mark Esper had called him about a half-hour before the U.S. strikes to tell him of U.S. intentions to hit bases of the militia suspected of being behind Friday’s rocket attack. Abdul-Mahdi said in the statement he asked Esper to call off U.S. retaliation plans.
The statement said Iraqi President Barham Salih also received advance notice from a U.S. diplomat, and also asked unsuccessfully for Americans to call off it off.
The strikes were designed to kill those who still fight ISIS in its most virulent hide outs:
The PMF group that was hit by the Americans has been fighting ISIS for years. They were on the front lines protecting Iraq from ISIS in Syria and engaged in the ongoing battles with ISIS in the Syrian and Iraqi deserts. They were THE line of defense.
— Rania Khalek (@RaniaKhalek) December 29, 2019
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Here is video of the bloody aftermath.
One of the videos from last night: pic.twitter.com/ptqr9fnjPo
— TØM CΛT (account semi-retired) (@TomtheBasedCat) December 30, 2019
There are some 5,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq in bases which also house 10,000nds of Iraqi soldiers and PMF troops. Revenge attacks are now inevitable:
In the aftermath of the American strikes, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi said, “We have already confirmed our rejection of any unilateral action by coalition forces or any other forces inside Iraq. We consider it a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and a dangerous escalation that threatens the security of Iraq and the region,” according to a statement released on Iraqi state television.
Abdul-Mahdi now finds himself facing the nightmare possibility of Iranian-linked paramilitaries, whose political wings hold enormous sway over his government, going to war with American forces on Iraqi territory, which would compound a disastrous few months in which the deaths of hundreds of protestors have been laid at his feet, prompting him to hand in his resignation to parliament.
The coming days and weeks will answer a number of questions about how this perilous situation will play out, primarily how far are the paramilitaries willing to act upon their rhetoric which has endlessly stated that the American presence in Iraq is a continuation of the occupation, in addition to their readiness to take military action in order to force out the Americans, “once again”.
The U.S. and Israel have already killed hundreds of Iraqi forces that are aligned with Iran. But these were the most egregious strikes. There is no doubt. The U.S. forces will have to (again) leave Iraq:
U.S. President Donald Trump had declared that he wants U.S. troops to leave the Middle East. But the ‘deep state’, the Pentagon and State Department bureaucracy, have resisted any such move:
Pompeo, Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, flew to Palm Beach, Florida, after the operation to brief President Donald Trump.
Esper said they discussed with Trump “other options that are available” to respond to Iran.
Trump was at Mar-a-Lago but did not appear with his top national security officials. After Pompeo and Esper spoke, the president traveled to his private golf club in West Palm Beach. The White House did not immediately say why Trump returned to the club after spending nearly six hours there earlier Sunday.
Yesterday’s attacks guarantee that all U.S. troops will have to leave Iraq and will thereby also lose their supply lines to Syria.
One wonders if that was the real intent of those strikes.
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