Outraged by the almost daily rocket attacks on its embassy, Washington threatened Baghdad with leaving Iraq, even if it meant playing into the hands of its worst enemies, the pro-Iran, and blowing up its best ally, the government in flight. Kazimi.
Several political and diplomatic sources have confirmed to AFP that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued an ultimatum to Iraqi President Barham Salih a week ago: either the attacks cease or Washington closes its embassy and recalls its 3000 soldiers and diplomats.
“The Americans are not angry, they are very, very, very angry,” said an Iraqi official.
“The honeymoon is over,” adds another.
Officially, the American side, we refuse to comment, but an official underlines “the danger of rockets fired by groups supported by Iran”.
For, once again, Iraq is only the field of confrontation between its American and Iranian allies.
And the government, which is considered more pro-American than its predecessor, must come to terms with a parliament that voted to expel American soldiers. Pro-Iran politicians are on the lookout for a faux pas to replace him.
The Iraqi leaders are also influenced by the electoral campaign which is currently being played out by its American ally.
The American ultimatum, accompanied by threats of sanctions against Iraqi personalities, has however already forced the political forces to distance themselves from the most radical.
On Twitter, the very influential Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr called for “creating a security, military and parliamentary commission to investigate” the rocket attacks.
A statement that is all the more significant given that about fifteen years ago he carved out an essential figure of leader in the armed struggle against the Americans.
Minutes later, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kazimi, accused by US officials of not doing enough against pro-Iran, endorsed Sadr’s recommendation.
Shiite political parties “have agreed to condemn” the attacks, a politician told AFP. Now, he asserts, the most radical pro-Iran “are isolated and without political protection”.
In another significant fact, the Hachd al-Chaabi, a coalition of pro-Iran paramilitaries now integrated into the state, sidelined several commanders accused of being linked to attacks against the West.
Now the second block in Parliament, the Hachd is no longer just a military force. In a country riddled with corruption, it now also has, like all political actors, economic interests to preserve.
And above all, its commanders now live in hiding, traumatized by the assassination in January of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and de facto Hachd leader Abu Mehdi al-Mouhandis by an American drone in Baghdad. Without counting the announcements of the United States of a plan to bombard more than 120 sites if one of their nationals were killed.
The Hachd thus insisted on saying that it was disclaiming all responsibility for the acts of “parties claiming it” to “carry out illegal military acts against foreign interests”.
Message to the United States
This did not prevent new factions in recent days from threatening the American “occupiers” with the worst.
“For months, Iran has recovered the elements expelled from armed groups to form new factions, whose names can now appear” on statements claiming anti-American attacks, decrypts for AFP a senior official of the camp Shiite.
According to him, these factions send a message for Iran to the United States: Despite recent political changes, including the coming to power of Mr. Kazimi, no leader [irakien] will not be able to impose its vision on Iraq.
While the most moderate pro-Iran forces now follow the government line, the more radical ones continue to wield war rhetoric.
Because, affirms a Western diplomat to AFP on condition of anonymity, “if Washington withdraws, these groups will be able to boast of having kicked the Americans out of Iraq at little cost”.
A withdrawal would also be a blow for Mr. Kazimi, who is already fighting to obtain a vote on the electoral law and the budget, his first promises to the people.
And its fall, warn Western diplomats and experts, would be the worst case scenario for its supporters, led by the United States.
“No other politician is as ready to negotiate with the West as he”, assures the diplomat.
If Kazimi leaves, “the militias will be able to get comfortable and take radical action against the state,” warns political commentator Ali Mamouri.