Iraq rocket attack
Iraq rocket attack (File) Image Credit:

The security situation in Iraq has always been fragile. But this week’s attack on Baghdad’s diplomatic Green Zone, described by the government as “a terrorist act”, shows that the security challenge has reached an extremely dangerous level which requires the state to move fast and hard against the mostly Iran-sponsored armed militias.

Eight rockets were fired at the heavily fortified area, with at least one Iraqi soldier injured when a rocket landed near an Iraqi security checkpoint, according to a statement from the Iraqi military. The statement said most of the rockets hit Al Qadisiya residential neighbourhood near the US Embassy, damaging several buildings and cars. Most of the western embassies, including the American, are located in the Green Zone.

However, the people still await his promise to rid the country of the lawless militias that hinders Iraq’s Arab and international ties and scares foreign investments, which Baghdad needs very badly. Al Kadhimi government must take a firm stand against the militias. There is no other option

- Gulf News

A spokesman for the Iraqi President said in a statement that “targeting the Green Zone is a terrorist act that endangers the security and lives of innocent citizens and their property. It represents a targeting of the country’s sovereignty and national efforts to preserve the state’s prestige ... and undermines Iraq’s international reputation and its foreign relations.” An Iraqi military source said an unnamed “outlaw group” was behind that attack. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meanwhile blamed Iranian-backed militias for the attack.

Security on top of priorities

Since it came to power in May this year, amid the coronavirus pandemic, the government of Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi, said the security of Iraq was on top of its priorities. Disarming the militias, most of whom are heavily armed, is however not an easy task, the government has since realised.

But with the continuing rocket attacks on foreign embassies and a streak of assassinations of prominent political activists and human rights advocates, Baghdad has no other option but to crackdown on the militias that continue to intimidate the people of Iraq and cause irreparable damage to its relations with its neighbours and foreign countries.

Iran, which is engaged in a proxy war against the US forces in Iraq, continues to support most of those militias with money, arms and military expertise. The latest attack took place just weeks before the death anniversary of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in an American air raid in January this year, leading many to conclude that the attacks could be an Iranian reminder of Tehran’s overwhelming influence in Iraq.

Al Kadhimi in an apparent effort to distance his country from the overbearing Iranian influence has taken several steps to improve Baghdad’s ties with Arab countries, mainly Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. Those strategically important steps won praise inside and outside Iraq.

However, the people still await his promise to rid the country of the lawless militias that hinders Iraq’s Arab and international ties and scares foreign investments, which Baghdad needs very badly. Al Kadhimi government must take a firm stand against the militias. There is no other option.