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Iraq's Foreign Affairs Advisor Warns of Potential Regional Conflict amid Israel-Hamas Truce

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Momen Zellmi
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Iraq's Foreign Affairs Advisor Warns of Potential Regional Conflict amid Israel-Hamas Truce

The Middle East remains a geopolitical hotspot, with Iraq at its center, caught in the crosshairs of escalating tensions. The recent conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, which saw the involvement of Iran-aligned armed groups, including Lebanese Hezbollah and multiple Iraqi factions, has amplified these tensions. The foreign affairs advisor to Iraq's prime minister has voiced apprehension of a potential wider regional conflict unless the temporary truce in Gaza manifests into a permanent ceasefire.

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Iraq's Involvement and Concerns

The involvement of Iranian-aligned militias such as Kataib Hezbollah, launching attacks on both Israeli and US forces, has positioned Iraq in the epicenter of the escalating conflict. The Iraqi government has denounced these attacks while emphasizing the indispensability of a Gaza ceasefire to avert further deterioration of the situation.

US Involvement and Response

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The United States, with its substantial military presence in Iraq and Syria, has felt the direct impact of the conflict. Steady rocket and drone fire directed at US forces have led to retaliatory strikes against militia sites in Syria and Iraq. However, these US airstrikes, aimed at Iran-backed militants, have met with criticism from the Iraqi government, which perceives them as escalatory and an infringement of Iraqi sovereignty.

Complex Dynamics of Militias and Regional Conflict

The convoluted dynamics of the situation are further amplified by the involvement of various armed groups and militias, both from within Iraq and neighboring countries. The Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a largely Shiite Muslim armed faction established to counter the Islamic State, has evolved into an official security agency under the command of the Iraqi prime minister. Yet, many of the PMF's most potent Iran-backed factions often operate outside the official chain of command, challenging the government's authority.

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Ceasefire and Regional Stability

The temporary truce between Israel and Hamas has offered a fleeting pause in hostilities. Major Iraqi armed factions have shown a readiness to respect the ceasefire, albeit with a caveat that they would recommence attacks if the truce collapses. This underscores the precariousness of the situation and the Iraqi government's broader concerns about the potential for a regional conflict with far-reaching consequences.

Implications for US Involvement in the Region

The ongoing conflict and US forces' involvement in Iraq and Syria raise questions about the broader US strategy in the region. The mission of aiding and assisting Iraqi forces to prevent an ISIS resurgence has been complicated by the recent hostilities and attacks on US troops. The delicate balance of power and complex relationships between various regional actors pose significant challenges for US involvement.

The intricate geopolitical dynamics of the Middle East, involving multiple state and non-state actors with competing interests, characterize the situation in Iraq. The recent conflict between Israel and Hamas has sent shockwaves across the region. As the balance of power continues to fluctuate, the urgency for diplomatic efforts to de-escalate tensions and work towards a lasting ceasefire becomes increasingly paramount.

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