In an attack like Operation Martyr Soleimani in January 2020, Iran claimed responsibility for an attack on U.S consulate buildings in Irbil, Iraq. (Source) The attack, which occurred March 13th, is said to be a retaliatory action against Israel. Two Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) members were killed in an airstrike in Syria the week prior. (Source)
Key Judgment 1: It is highly likely that this strike will intensify animosity between Iran, the U.S, and Israel – prompting increased tensions in the region in the next 6 months.
- The United States, having a laxed role in Iraq, will most likely respond with a continuation of heavy sanctions.
- This attack was reportedly in response to the Israeli strikes on alleged IRGC drone and munition factories in Syria. (Source)
- Israeli memory is long and their missiles are accurate. This attack will most likely prompt retaliatory strikes by the Israelis on other IRGC facilities. Israeli doctrine has shown that even in response to small attacks larger retaliatory strikes are a routine part of doctrine and are thought to dissuade further attacks. (Source)
Key Judgment 2: It is likely that this attack will have repercussions for the Iranian nuclear deal, and further close them off from European nations as well.
- Iran’s nuclear capabilities are at the heart of contention between Western nations. Talks to resuscitate the 2015 deal were paused prior to the strike in Irbil.
- Congresswoman Elaine Luria reflected this: “If reports are accurate, the Biden Administration must withdraw its negotiations with Iran. We cannot re-enter a failed JCPOA [the Iranian nuclear agreement formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] to further empower Iran and threaten global security.” (Source)
- This outcry is also reverberated by other Western nations, and leaves Iran shunned by nations with sway in their nuclear deal. With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Iran and Russia, both being sanctioned and shunned, may grow closer in relation, cooperation and cause in defying the west.
Key Judgment 3: It is realistically probable that Iraq will align with other regional actors and nations to dissuade further attacks on Iraqi sovereignty.
- Iraq has condemned the attacks in Irbil and is working with officials from the Kurdistan region to investigate the attack. (Source) Below is a tweet from the Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.
- The Saudi government has also condemned the attacks, expressing solidarity and supporting measures for “[Iraq] to protect its security and stability.” (Source) In working closely with Iraq, Saudi Arabia can further exhibit regional control and dominance over their Shia adversary, Iran.
- Iraq is geographically positioned between Iran and their main adversaries, meaning Iranian influence in the region is not new. This attack, overall, is a continuation of a soft conflict between Iran and Israel in the region.