Why is the U.S. attacking this Iraqi-Syrian border region on a regular basis?
June 29, 2021 – Tehran Times
In Syria’s eastern province of Dayr-Zawr, Al Bukamal city sits next to the Iraqi border and the town of al-Qaim sits opposite to the city of Al Bukamal on the Iraqi side of the border. (That’s the basic geography out of the way).
For many years, Iraq and Syria have been trying to control this desert border area to prevent Daesh terrorists from traveling between the two countries. At the height of the terror group’s territorial control, this region between Al Bukamal and al Qaim was in the hands of Daesh itself. This allowed the Takfiri group to transfer terrorists, logistical supplies and money between the two countries. Liberating the region was a grueling, challenging task. Thanks to Iran’s late war hero, the martyr, Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, his team of military advisors and thanks to the deputy chief of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), Abu Mehdi al-Muhandis, The Iraqi PMU launched a military operation in late 2016 along the Iraqi-Syrian border. They started west of Tal-Afar in Northern Nineveh province and marched down to al-Qaim, wiping out terrorists along the way and making the ultimate sacrifice themselves as Daesh killed many PMU members. It’s important to highlight, this was not an easy task. The U.S. military, which has troops stationed along the Syrian side of the border were warily or worryingly (depends on who you listen to) overlooking what was unfolding before their eyes.
At the same time, and again credit goes to the late Iranian Martyr, Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, and a small team of advisors from Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement, the Syrian Army was liberating town after town in Dayr-Zawr province where al Bukamal is situatated.
To make the task easier, Damascus and Baghdad signed a security agreement so each nation’s forces coordinated to the extent Iraqi forces would cross into Syrian territory (sometimes up to 2 kilometers) to eliminate Daesh terror cells and visa-versa. They fought and they fought and they fought Daesh until popular footage emerged showing Iraqi and Syrian soldiers embracing each other at the al Bukamal – al Qaim border crossing. These victories and developments and military successes came at a cost. U.S. forces occupy chunks of eastern Syria, especially the oil fields in Dayr-Zawr province. Washington has military bases on both sides of the border.
The ain al Assad base in Iraq’s Western Anbar province and several others in Syria’s Eastern Dayr al-Zawr; the most prominent of which is most certainly al-Tanf in a broader territory known as the Badia desert. At one point during the war against Daesh, Russia accused the U.S. of providing cover for Daesh near al-Tanf instead of fighting the terrorists. In fact every time PMU forces or Syrian government forces tried to target Daesh cells near al-Tanf, U.S. warplanes carried out deadly airstrikes against the forces that were chasing Daesh. Similar attacks were conducted at the al Bukamal – al Qaim border crossing. One major attack at this border crossing led to a quick chain of events that resulted in the martyrdom of Iran’s Lieutenant General, Qassem Soleimani and senior Iraqi PMU commander Abu Mehdi al-Muhandis. Both leading anti-terror figures that prevented terrorism from spreading around the world. A U.S. airstrike at the same border crossing in late December 2019 on PMU forces killed more than 50 of its members. A few days later, a funeral procession took place that went through Baghdad’s green zone, some of the mourners demonstrated outside the so-called American embassy. The mourners planned to camp and rally outside the embassy for weeks.
According to then Prime Minister, Adel-Abdul Mehdi, it was Abu Mehdi al-Muhandis himself who ordered the mourners to return home. Despite Baghdad providing sufficient security for the embassy, the following day or two on January 3rd 2020, at the direct instructions of then U.S President Trump, Washington assassinated General Soleimani, Iraqi commander al-Muhamdis and a number of their security personnel citing imminent security threats.
Following the assassination at Baghdad International Airport, Iraq’s parliament passed a bill that called on the U.S. forces to leave the country. Some analysts say there was no need for such a bill, as the Iraqi constitution clearly stipulates that any foreign occupation is against the law. But America refuses to leave. There are several reasons for this; many of them go back to the al Bukamal-al Qaim border crossing.
The reality on the ground is that the Pentagon has never fought Daesh in this border area or anywhere else in Iraq and Syria. Daesh was not an army that you could erase with airstrikes, they hid in urban areas and desert hideouts.
The only way to terminate the group was using ground forces, sometimes to the extent of face to face fighting. What America did was carpet bomb cities like Mosul and Raqqah which now need decades of infrastructure work to bring back the internally displaced people.
The PMU liberated cities like Tikrit with ground troops and it was business as normal the next day. The fact of the matter is that America needs two things in Iraq and Syria. Instability and oil.
Instability in Iraq and Syria weakens the Islamic Republic’s allies in the region. Syrian oil fields just happen to be in Dayr al-Zawr, by maintaining its military presence in the province, Washington is preventing the Syrian government, that has now liberated all the country’s territory barring Idlib province, from using oil revenue to rebuild the country.
Likewise, the U.S. military occupation that protects thousands of military contractors at the so-called U.S. embassy ensures the continuation of disinformation campaigns that bring about infighting among Iraqis. PMU commanders regularly complain of individuals entering the embassy in the Iraqi capital or the U.S consulate in southern Iraq and then spreading poisonous disinformation against the PMU and/or Iran. Baghdad must shut down (at least temporarily) social media platforms that are serving these interests.
There are no so-called Iranian backed Shia militias in Iraq or Syria. In November 2016, The Iraqi parliament passed legislation that incorporated the PMU as part of Iraq’s armed forces. In other words, they receive their paychecks from Baghdad, their pensions from Baghdad and their orders from the Iraqi Commander in Chief, who at present is the interim Prime Minister, Mustafa al-Khadhimi. The other fact Western mainstream media ignore is that the PMU has more Christian and Sunni soldiers than the regular army.
Many ask, so why doesn’t the Pentagon want Iraq to prosper?
Iraq has oil and a lot of it. Washington thought it would take its share of the pie but that didn’t exactly materialize the way the the Pentagon has planned. A strong Iraqi economy and a strong Syrian economy alongside a strong Iran is a powerful alliance that America’s regional Persian Gulf Monarchies paid a lot of money to prevent.
This is despite the fact that all three countries, especially Iran has offered many olive branches, most recently the Hormuz Peace initiative.
But peace in West Asia would destroy the profits of the U.S. military Industrial complex.
Iraqi and Syrian officials accuse Daesh of being a U.S., Israeli proxy. Washington needs Daesh as a pretext to maintain its occupation of both countries. And so all roads lead to the al Bukamal – al Qaim border crossing, where America is playing a huge destabilizing role for the region (and the world) with its airstrikes.