With the American warplanes targeting Iranian militias in Syria, in a plan that is the first of its kind since the new American president, Joe Biden, assumed his constitutional duties, the debate about the indications and connotations of these raids and the meanings they bear, especially as they come at a time, many of the likelihoods are that the Biden administration will ease the tension with Tehran.
Identical sources confirmed that the death toll caused by the American strike on Syria rose to 22, all of them from the Popular Mobilization Forces, especially the Iraqi Hezbollah, explaining that the strike targeted a shipment of weapons for militias loyal to Iran at the moment they entered Syria coming from Iraq near the Qaim crossing point in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor.
Satellite images also showed the effects of the massive damage, the American air strikes on the Iranian militia headquarters in Syria, had left behind.
Counterattacks and Obama Out of Power
Although the raids took place in Syria, Muhammad Haj Ali, political analyst, links them to the recent attacks, which affected US interests in Iraq last week, indicating that, under the current situation in the Middle East and Iranian influence in the countries of the region, the arenas cannot be separated from each other, whether in Iraq, Syria or Lebanon.
Hajj Ali also believes that the American raids carried a message that Biden does not adopt the same policy taken by former US President Barack Obama, which is described as being complacent with the Iranian regime, indicating that the current period will witness many confrontational incidents between the two parties, especially with the increase of talk about the possibility of holding negotiations between the two parties on the Iranian nuclear agreement.
It is noteworthy that, during the past ten days, Iraq has witnessed a series of attacks on vital areas in the country where US forces and coalition bases are deployed near them, including Irbil Airport, Balad Air Base and the US Embassy in Baghdad.
In the same context, Hajj Ali likely sees that the American forces will intensify their air attacks targeting Iranian-backed militias inside Syria, pointing out that the American strikes will not focus on the militias inside Iraq, given that they do not want to escalate the security situation in Iraq, which means that the confrontations between the two sides will focus on the Syrian arena, as he described it.
Simultaneously, Hebrew websites quoted as Israeli sources saying: “The Iranians do not realize that Biden is not Obama, and that if they continue on the path of this miscalculation, they will receive a blow in the end” noting that Washington had previously informed Israel about air strikes against Iranian targets.
Official Statements and Direct Avowal
The link between the attacks in Iraq and the air strikes against militias in Syria, confirmed by the US Secretary of Defense, “Lloyd Austin”, stressing, in declarations after the strikes, that the US administration is confident that the target which was hit in Syria belongs to the same militias responsible for the Erbil attack. In reference to the responsibility of the Iraqi Hezbollah militias and the Popular Mobilization Forces for the Iraq attacks.
The direct avowal also brings the Iraqi militias responsible for what is happening in Iraq, through the statement of the US Department of Defense, in which it confirms that the American warplanes launched a raid on facilities in eastern Syria used by Iranian-backed armed factions, which came in response to the recent missile attacks on sites of the American forces in Iraq.
In the same context, “Austin” explains: “I advised the president about the process, we said repeatedly that we will respond according to a schedule” while the Ministry of Defense affirms that the military strike came under the direction of President “Joe Biden”, against those whom the American administration considers a threat to stability and security.
It is noteworthy that the White House issued a statement after the attack on Erbil airport, confirming that the United States reserves the right to respond to these attacks, without indicating the nature and location of the response.
Simultaneously, Abdul Hamid Al-Raji, a researcher in Middle East affairs, notes that the US raids on Syria are not related to the role it plays inside Syria and to its standing with the regime of Bashar al-Assad, adding: “The raids cannot be interpreted as an American position on the Syrian regime. The last strike is outside the equation, but it can be considered an indication that the American administration is strict with regard to Iranian influence or any moves that undermine stability in the region. As for the part related to Syria, the Biden administration rejects the presence of these militias in Syria, as required by the demands and interests of Israel.
Willingness for War Relieves Tension
As per the American response, Al-Raji sees that the United States wants to send a message to Iran that it is ready to enter a confrontation with the Iranian regime, and that any Iranian action will face a harsher response from the American administration, pointing out that this policy, through which the Biden administration, aims to prevent Tehran from sliding further into violations and abuses, in a way that forces Washington to give reactions that it does not want and time is not suitable.
Al-Raji indicates that Biden may hold a less militant position than his predecessor, Trump, but he is more willing than the latter to engage in direct or indirect military operations, if imposed on him, which is what the Iranian leadership should end up with, according to his description.