How to Invoke a Regional War

January 6th, 2024 - by Deve DeCamp /

The Iraqi government condemned strike as a
violation of sovereignty and as  a terrorist act’

US Drone Strike Kills Iraqi Militia Leader in Baghdad

Dave DeCamp /

The Iraqi government condemned the strike as a violation of sovereignty and as ‘no different from a terrorist act’

A US drone strike in Baghdad killed a senior militia leader on Thursday, marking another significant escalation that could lead to a full-blown regional war.

The strike killed Mushtaq Talib al-Saidi, also known as Abu Taqwa, a deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) operations in Baghdad. The PMF is a coalition of mostly Shia Iraqi militias that are part of the government’s security forces.

At least one other militia member was killed in the strike, which targeted a PMF base in Baghdad. Later on Thursday, the Pentagon confirmed it was responsible for the bombing.

The Pentagon claims Abu Taqwa was believed to be responsible for attacks on US bases in Iraq and Syria that started in October in response to US support for Israel’s onslaught in Gaza, but the US has not provided any evidence for the assertion.

The drone strike has enraged the Iraqi government, which condemned it as a “flagrant violation of the sovereignty and security of Iraq” and said it was “no different from a terrorist act.”

The US has launched several rounds of airstrikes in Iraq since October, all of which have been strongly condemned by the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, the US’s supposed partner in the country.

Al-Sudani’s government has also condemned the attacks on US bases in Iraq but wants to work to find the perpetrators and strongly opposes the unilateral US airstrikes and extra-judicial killings.

Al-Sudani said last week that his government was “heading towards” ending the presence of foreign forces in Iraq, which includes 2,500 US troops. Iraq’s parliament voted to expel US troops back in 2020 following the US drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani and PMF leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, but the US has refused to leave.

Amid Escalation, Israel Attacks Hezbollah Targets in Southern Lebanon Attacks Likely to Lead to Wider Regional Conflict

Jason Ditz /
/ 4, 2024) — With the very real possibility that the assassination of Hamas figure Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut earlier this week could expand the ongoing war, Israel seemingly increased the odds Thursday with a flurry of attacks on Hezbollah targets in Southern Lebanon. These hit an observation post and multiple infrastructure targets. They also reportedly struck an anti-tank squad.

Arouri was instrumental in brokering the major Israel-Hamas hostage exchange, and was reportedly trying to get another one going before Israel killed him. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned in a televised speechthat the assassination would not go unpunished and hitting Beirut was a very big deal indeed.

But while top Likud figures were crowing about the killing, many Israelis were openly expressing concern that the death of Arouri effectively put to rest the hope of a second hostage exchange. For those who still have family members held by Hamas, this is clearly nothing to celebrate.

And yet that may have been the point for Israeli hawks, who are not really on board for the exchange, and are more than happy to put the kibosh on a clear path to peace. If that means expanding the war into Lebanon, some of them are very much also on board with making that happen too.

Perennial hawk Avigdor Lieberman is openly calling for a 50-year occupation of Southern Lebanon to punish Hezbollah and establish a permanent buffer zone, effectively another occupied territory. This isn’t exactly official Israeli policy right now, but if it were to become so, nothing would facilitate it so much as provoking a full war with Hezbollah.

It’s not clear how many open-ended wars Israel can fight at once, but with the US openly supporting them with all the weapons they want, it seems at least some officials are trying to put that question to the test to find out.