High-ranking leaders in Iraq and Yemen, close alliances with Iran and command over well-armed factions have cautioned the United States and threatened to target US assets should America step in on Israel’s side amid its conflict with Hamas in Gaza.
Amid the escalating situation, the US has openly backed Israel, promising further arms support and positioning a carrier strike group in the Eastern Mediterranean. In response, influential factions have declared their stance.
The Houthi militia leader in Yemen openly declared that US intervention would be met with drones, missiles, and a range of military countermeasures. Furthermore, there’s an expressed willingness to join forces with the “Axis of Resistance,” which encompasses Iran-backed Shia Muslim groups in Iraq and Hezbollah in Lebanon, already entangled in the current conflict.
Notably, Yemen had been witnessing a lull in conflict, especially with peace negotiations making headway, after years of tension with the Arab-led coalition, punctuated by attacks on the Gulf’s key resources.
Iraq’s Stance and Implications
In Iraq, the narrative echoes similar sentiments. Hadi Al-Amiri, a dominant politician with tight connections to Iran and a key player in the alliance backing the Baghdad government, issued warnings against American interests during a significant tribal meet in Baghdad.
As the leader of the Badr Organization, an Iranian-backed Shia political entity and a crucial part of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), his threats carry weight. Al-Amiri’s messages insinuated clear repercussions for American interests if the US becomes overtly involved. The PMF has shown clear backing for Palestinian factions against Israel, pointing to Israel’s “repressive” strategies as a primary reason for Palestinian retaliation.
Historically, Iranian-backed militias in Iraq have been known to target US military interests, including the US embassy in Baghdad. However, a truce in the recent past has led to a period of relative tranquillity in the region. The US has a significant military presence in the area, with 2,500 troops in Iraq and 900 more stationed in Syria, mainly focusing on aiding local units against ISIS.