In Alhurra 

A “smart crushing blow” … possible US scenarios to destroy Iran’s influence in Iraq

The United States launched air strikes last month targeting pro-Iranian Hezbollah militia locations in response to the killing of two American soldiers at the Taji base.

Three scenarios facing the US administration to deal with the escalation of Iranian threats in the region, including launching a landslide attack on pro-Tehran militias in Iraq, according to observers.

These weightings coincide with the assertion of US President Donald Trump on Wednesday that Iran or its proxies are planning a lightning attack on American targets in Iraq and warned that they will pay a “very high price.”

Before that, the New York Times said in an expanded report last Friday that “the Pentagon has ordered the military leaders to plan an escalation in the military campaign in Iraq and prepare for a process” to destroy the militias affiliated with Iran.

“Iran is currently trying to take advantage of the internal situation in the United States and its preoccupation with the repercussions of the outbreak of the new Corona epidemic to carry out provocative actions in Iraq,” said Iraqi political analyst Haitham Al-Hiti.

Al-Hiti added to Al-Hurra that “Tehran also believes that US President Donald Trump will not undertake any major military action at the moment, because he is preparing to enter the presidential elections scheduled for next November, and also as a result of public opinion preoccupation with the Corona crisis.”

Tensions between Washington and Tehran worsened after a US air strike on January 3 killed Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who founded the Iraqi Shiite Hezbollah Brigades after 2003.

Iran responded by launching a missile attack on the Iraqi base of al-Assad, where US forces are stationed, on January 8. No American soldier was killed or instantly injured in the attack, but more than 100 soldiers were diagnosed with brain injuries later.

The United States blamed the Iranian-backed Hezbollah Brigades for a missile attack on March 11 that killed two American soldiers and a 26-year-old British soldier in Iraq, and launched a day later in airstrikes targeting fighters of this faction in Iraq.

Then continued attacks on US interests in Iraq, with Katyusha rockets, which the United States believes that the pro-Iranian factions are behind.

Al-Haiti asserts that the United States has three options to deal with the Iranian threats and the factions loyal to it, one of which is that Washington persists in the Iranian provocations until the end of the Corona crisis, and this is an existing option.

The second option, which has little chance, according to Haiti, is for the United States to return to the negotiating table, “and it is a difficult choice because it will be seen as a retreat for the White House administration.”

Despite the calm that prevailed in relations between Washington and Tehran with the conclusion of the Iranian nuclear deal in 2015, the relations deteriorated with a decision that Trump made almost two years ago to withdraw from this agreement and reimpose the US sanctions that paralyzed the Iranian economy.

Al-Haiti notes that “a third option is to launch a decisive strike aimed at Iran’s arms in Iraq and end its presence to a large extent, and this is one of the most likely options at the present time.”

What would the strike look like?

The Iraqi political analyst believes that the American attack, if it had taken place, would be smart, using sophisticated weapons in a manner similar to the one that killed Qasim Soleimani near Baghdad Airport.

There will be little reliance on the human effort on the ground and will focus on the use of smart weapons to avoid losses among US forces, according to Haiti.

It is believed that “the decisive strike will begin targeting the militia headquarters and main camps and ending its presence completely by relying on careful intelligence to collect information and monitor all militias affiliated with Iran.”

In addition to this, Al-Haiti said, “Alternative sites adopted by the militia loyal to Tehran after the killing of Soleimani and the flight of all of its leaders to Iran or their disappearance from view are also being targeted.”

And he confirms that such an operation requires a great intelligence effort and a period of time that may reach about 30 days, but its results will be decisive and will lead to the destruction of the militias and the demoralization of their morale, especially if their start is strong by hunting their leaders and destroying their vital facilities such as rocket factories and others. ”

What should be associated with this process?

Al-Haiti says that the states will, before that, secure and protect their forces deployed in Iraqi military bases in order to reduce the losses that could occur as a result of the reaction of Iran and the factions loyal to it.

The United States began this week to deploy the Patriot air defense missile system in Iraq, nearly two months after the American forces were attacked by Iranian ballistic missiles, according to American and Iraqi military sources told AFP.

One of the Patriot batteries reached the Ain al-Assad base, where US soldiers are deployed, last week, and is being installed, while another has reached a base in Erbil, the largest city in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

This came in conjunction with the withdrawal of the US-led international coalition from several bases inside Iraq in recent weeks.

Al-Haiti notes that “these tactical measures aim to protect American soldiers from targeting, given that the bases in which they are currently deployed are secure and difficult to target by militias.”

Al-Haiti concludes by saying, “The United States is currently preparing for one of the two options. As for patience with Iranian provocations and trying to reduce losses in its forces, or preparing for an overwhelming smart blow that ends Iran’s influence in Iraq.” Source