Renewed rocket attacks on US targets in Iraq show Iran-aligned factions are heaping pressure on the government while Tehran may be seeking leverage over America’s new administration, analysts say.
Iraq, scarred by years of war and insurgency, has been a strategic battleground for arch-foes the United States and Iran, both allies of Baghdad who remain sharply at odds over Iran’s nuclear programme.
Analysts and officials in Iraq say the resumption of attacks after four months of relative calm shows that Iran and its Iraqi allies are now abandoning de-escalation and seeking leverage over their rivals.
“It seems we’re back to last year,” a senior US military official in Iraq told AFP, referring to several months in 2020 when rockets rained down on American sites once a week or more.
On Monday, two rockets hit near the US embassy in Baghdad, days after a volley hit an airbase further north where a US military contractor is maintaining F-16 fighter-jets purchased from Washington.
US President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi spoke Tuesday by phone about this week’s rocket strikes and agreed that those responsible “must be held fully to account”, the White House said.