Is Iran Behind The Drone Attack On The Iraqi Prime Minister? – analysis

Reports of a drone attack on the Iraqi prime minister’s home represent a major escalation in the region.
It represents the largest use of drones, primarily by Iranian-backed groups, to spread terror throughout the Middle East. It also represents the largest use of drones as a strategic weapon, in this case, with the aim of intimidating the Iraqi prime minister just days after security forces clashed with pro-Iranian protesters. The drone strike was likely carried out by pro-Iranian militias.

There are no other culprits in Iraq who likely have drones that can or would attack the Iraqi Prime Minister. While ISIS has used drones in the past, it is unclear why they would suddenly emerge now to attack the Iraqi leader. That leaves the groups backed by Iran.

While official reports have not yet specified which group was behind the attack and no one has claimed responsibility yet, the trend of drone strikes in the region points to groups linked to Iran. A drone was used to attack an American garrison in Tanf, Syria, in October. In July, a drone was used to attack a commercial tanker in the Gulf of Oman, killing two crew members. In both cases, the United States and other countries have singled out Iran.
In another incident in May, a drone was launched from Iraq, or possibly from Syria, at Israel during the 11-day war with Hamas. Iran is also believed to be behind this attack.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi addresses the nation following a drone strike targeting his residence in Baghdad, Iraq, on November 7, 2021 in this still image obtained from video. (credit: AL-IRAQIYA / REUTERS TV / VIA REUTERS)

For years, Iran has been building more sophisticated drones for use in surveillance and kamikaze-style attacks. Drones have improved navigation and pre-programmed flight paths or even real-time intelligence gathering. The fact that they have targeted a moving ship is a clear indication of this.

An attack on the residence of the Iraqi prime minister is another step in the drone war and also a likely message from pro-Iran groups in Iraq that the prime minister is not above being targeted.

On Sunday morning, the Iraqi armed forces announced the start of investigations to find out the location of the booby-trapped drone launch that targeted the home of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, according to reports. The images attest to the damage suffered by the house, but it is unclear if fragments of drones were found that would link the design to a single country or entity.

One of the reasons that pro-Iran groups, including Hezbollah, Hamas and the Houthis in Yemen, use drones is that it is difficult to track their launch site and know who is behind them once they are launched.

Israel, in the past, has accused Iran of creating a drone training center. Iran’s drones and Iranian technology have been key in helping the Houthis attack Saudi Arabia. Since January, pro-Iranian militias in Iraq have increasingly used drones to attack American forces. This has even happened in Erbil, where pro-Iran militias used a drone in the spring of 2021 to attack what the US media called, at the time, a CIA hangar at Erbil airport. Pro-Iran groups have held drone parades.

But, the type of drone used to attack the Iraqi prime minister may be smaller than some of the kamikaze drones, which tend to be larger than the size of a human.

The location of the equipment parts will be important, but Iraq’s security services may be reluctant to conclude that Iran or any of its power groups were behind the attack.

Why? Because in previous incidents in which the prime minister of Iraq acted against pro-Iranian groups involved in illegal attacks, they managed to free their imprisoned members as a result.

Now the groups, most linked to the Fatah party in parliament and the paramilitary Hashd al-Shaabi, have been holding a sit-in to demand the reversal of recent election results. This type of electoral protest is designed to increase tensions and put pressure on the prime minister.

The problem facing the Iraqi government is that militias are often linked to official paramilitary forces because former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi lobbied for militias to play a legitimate role.

The militias were given increased power in 2014, based on some existing pro-Iran units, to fight ISIS. After the war against ISIS ended, the militias refused to return home. Abadi, who was backed by the United States, empowered the militias.

They soon began to seize the Albukamal border area in Syria, alongside Al-Qaim of Iraq, and funnel weapons from Iran to Hezbollah. They have been the target of air strikes, several of which were carried out by the United States in retaliation for their attacks.

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