Who is the decision maker in the battle of western Anbar?

Who is the decision maker in the battle of western Anbar?

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The restoration of Al-Hadhar area in the south of the city of Mosul by a lightning military operation of the forces of the popular crowd that did not take more than forty-eight hours opened the way for the Shiite factions that represent the main component for the crowd to advance west towards the border with Syria, that the geopolitical importance of region is expected to be a center of the fierce struggle between Iran and the United States of America in the last stage of the war against Daesh in preparation for the phase after the war.

The signs of a new conflict have been loomed between the two rivals for the influence in the country, and this time the Iraqi – Syrian border will be the new field of conflict between them.

On its part, the US forces began patrolling in the desert of western Anbar to explore the region in preparation for the launch of a battle in the Upper Euphrates to restore the last three towns controlled by «Daesh» in the province, Rawa ,Ana and al-Qaim, which are the last strongholds of it in the Western Sahara in which Iraq shares with Syria and Jordan. But the start of the operation is linked to the end of the battle of Mosul, where security forces continue to face challenges.

The war that erupted after the control of the organization Daesh on nearly a third of the area of Iraq by mid-2014, has opened the door for an Iranian military presence in Iraq by proxy through a reserve army which is made up of more than one hundred thousand of Shiite fighters linked to Iran ideologically, financially and organizationally, and who were able to fill the vacuum left by the collapse of the Iraqi forces in front of the advance of Daesh suddenly.

As within of the crowd , there is a presence of Iran by the proxy in the Iraqi Sunni areas located in the provinces of Diyala, Salahuddin and Anbar, where the crowd forces are still participating in taking hold of the land that it had actively participated in the restoration of it from organization Daesh.

In the last November, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said during a press conference that “the Iraqi – Syrian border requires security measures to prevent the return of extremists to Iraq after being driven in Mosul”, and Abadi sent a delegation to Syria, headed by National Security Adviser Faleh al-Fayadh to discuss this with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

And then a number of Shiite faction’s leaders announced that they are willing to deploy their fighters on the border with Syria, and have made a request to the Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to give them the task, but Abadi did not agree to this request so far.

Organization of “Badr” led by Hadi al-Ameri, which has a strong armed faction and have political representation in the government and Iraqi parliament demanded that the forces of “popular crowd” to carry out the task of the protection of the border with Syria .

In this context , MP of “Badr” in parliament Razak al-Haidari said , “that” the protection of the of the border is important to cut Daesh supplies , and the popular crowd can help the security forces to do so because they are well trained forces to fight extremists “.

As the former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, known for his close relationship with the” popular crowd “declared that” the popular crowd can  cross the border and go to Syria to help our brothers in the elimination of the organization “.

These statements have raised the concern of the United States and soon planned to carry out a military operation on the Iraqi – Syrian border in Anbar province to meet Iran’s plan to push the “popular crowd” forces toward the Iraqi – Syrian border through the province of Nineveh.

And it started to enter on the line of the presence of the western Iraq increasingly in a desire to dominate on the war over Daesh on both sides of the border; on the Syrian side where the US created its two military bases at least in each of the Ein al-Arab and Hasaka, and on the Iraqi side, it has raised the number of its troops at several bases, including Qayyarah and Ein al-Assad.

So the US forces in «Ein al-Assad» base in Anbar, show a keen interest in participating in the battles of the upper west of the Euphrates of “western Anbar” against al-Daesh to achieve  multiple targets  to Washington , first of it is the propaganda to guarantee for the management of the new American president, Donald Trump of marketing his image as a very warrior against terrorism.

While the United States to ensure by the participation in the war in western Iraq and eastern Syria a foothold that was lost by the decline of its role during the reign of the previous administration led by Barack Obama, in exchange for the progress of the Iranian and Russian roles .

And the most important is to participate in the final phase of the war to ensure for Washington to play a role in arranging the situation of the region then after it , and includes the redrawing of the map of influence there.

The military effort of the administration of the US President Donald Trump aims , concentrated on Iraq in parallel with its engagement increasingly in the war on Daesh in the last curve , to provide the appropriate environment for the participation of the United States of America actively in the arrangement of its positions in Iraq after Daesh and re-distribution of the map of influence inside it to minimize the Iranian role and limit its effects.

It is clear that the rivalry between Iran and the United States on the Iraqi-Syrian border would be strong after the battle of Mosul, and each party will use its local allies in this competition, Iran is using its allies from the Shiite factions, while the United States will use its allies of Sunni tribal fighters.

And it seems that the battle for western Anbar is not only military but also political, as Iran is seeking to find a land route between it and its ally Syria since years ago, while the United States and its allies are working to prevent it at any cost.

While the Air Force and surveillance via satellite are playing a crucial role, which makes the balance of power in the battle to control on the Iraq’s western areas tends to the interests of the United States at the expense of Iran.

The Unit of Iraqi Studies
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies