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An Iraqi Perspective as US Imposes Greater Sanctions on Iran

Sahib Ahmed al-Shukri

Najaf, Iraq

Iranians feel betrayed by peace deals between the US, Bahrain, the UAE, and Israel (Photo Credit: New York Times)

On September 19, the U.S. imposed a new set of sanctions on Iran after Tehran's nuclear missile and conventional arms threats. The new sanctions are an indefinite return to the United Nations arms embargo.

Because of the threat of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad closing, Iraq plays a big role in the sanctions. As an Iraqi, I believe the most recent surge in tension between the U.S. and Iran started when Iran fired missiles at U.S. military bases in Iraq on January 8, 2020.

I was in Anbar, the largest governorate in Iraq, when I saw the missiles in the sky. They looked like shooting stars until the U.S. Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar (CRAM) defense system shot them down.

Iran had attacked Iraq twelve times with impunity until January 3, when a U.S. drone killed the highest general in Iran and leader of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Qasem Soleimani. Soleimani was one of the biggest players in smuggling money and weapons from Iraq, and his death hurt Iranian access to Iraq.

Katyusha missiles fired on American bases in Iraq and attacks on U.S. troops ended talks between President of Iraq Barham Salih and American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The U.S. also threatened to close their embassy in Baghdad.

The U.S. was playing it smart; the peace deals between Bahrain and the UAE and Israel made many Iranians feel betrayed. Iran thought that it could win the hearts and minds of Arab people by mentioning the Palestine cause and threatening to occupy Israel. Iran already has tensions with Israel because of their backing of many extremist militias such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

Iran is in a tough position.

Iranian politicians, who had been repeating “death to America” daily at the urging of their government, are now seeing Arab nations become allies with the U.S.

As an Iraqi, I have a message for all Americans around the globe: sanctions are not the solution—they end up starving average, innocent citizens. The solution is replacing the political system in Iran with a more democratic one to give the Iranian people a second chance.


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