Iran likely behind drone attacks in Iraq amid nuclear talks, says security expert
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kenneth Shockley, a high threat security and crisis communications expert, during an exclusive interview with Kurdistan 24 on Thursday shared his insights on a range of pressing security and political developments in Iraq.
Shockley placed blame for the rocket and drone attacks targeting US forces in Iraq and Syria on Iran, as Tehran and world powers continue nuclear negotiations in Vienna.
“While it’s possible for more than one group to launch such attacks, it’s likely Iran is behind the attacks as nuclear negotiations continue,” Shockley told Kurdistan 24. “The US has responded and will continue a tempered response as nuclear talks continue.”
Shockley pointed out that drone attacks have been around since World War II, and the goal of such attacks remains the same—reprisal and instilling psychological fear in the enemy.
“U.S. response to such attacks should both serve as a deterrent to future attacks, and cripple the enemy’s capabilities to launch future attacks,” Shockley affirmed.
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Baghdad and Washington agreed in the final round of the strategic dialogue in July to withdraw US forces from Iraq by the end of 2021. However, US advisers have stayed to assist the Iraqi government in many fields: exchanging intelligence, providing training, arming, and equipping Iraqi forces.
“The agreement clearly acknowledges the critical role the U.S. plays in protecting Iraqi and Kurdish sovereignty, as outside influences continue to pour into the region,” Shockley said.
He also explained the US leaving Iraq would create a vacuum that would draw in terrorists from around the globe. “The US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have a critical role and responsibility in Iraq, following the invasion, just as we did in Germany and Japan in WWII,” Shockley said.
“Had the U.S. and its allies simply withdrawn from Germany and Japan following their military defeat? Imagine the outcome!”
Shockley went on to state that Iraq both needs and should continue to receive support from NATO as it continues to fight terrorist organizations like ISIS.
According to the results of Iraq's October election, Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sadrist Movement has secured 73 out of the 329 seats in the incoming parliament. Sadr has already started holding talks with Kurdish and other Iraqi political parties with the intention to form a national majority government.
“Sadr’s abilities to lead and have influence appear to be tied solely to his militia movement,” Shockley explained. “He would need to back a national unity movement in order to gain broad support.”
He added that it is up to Iraqis whether they want to allow regional states to influence Iraq’s internal affairs. “Iran has shown a desire to control Iraq via proxies, and will continue to do so until Iraqis say, “no more”, and put a stop to their influence.”
Shockley also noted that he believes the Kurds “can play a critical role in defeating Iraq’s enemies, and unifying the nation if equality for Kurds is recognized in Baghdad.”
“The Kurds remain a stronghold of freedom and independence, and I believe will continue to do so, regardless of what comes out of Baghdad,” he said.