The context on the ground in Iraq and Syria is becoming a “major challenge”, as a US military source discreetly comments on it. Great challenge of which “Italy is also part”, which on the eastern shore of the enlarged Mediterranean has part of its national interests – and military missions abroad. For example, in a few months the Italian military will take control of the NATO anti-terrorism mission in Iraq based in Baghdad, where even in these days the Iraqi Shiite militias are venting their interest in maintaining a constant and continuous level of armed engagement. against Western (mainly American) forces.
From 6 June to today, 8 July, there have been thirteen attacks with missiles and drone-kamikaze against Iraqi bases also used by Westerners. In the night between Wednesday and Thursday, for example, the Union III Forward Operating Base, which is the headquarters of the NATO Mission in Iraq, came under attack. On June 27 and July 6, the airport of Erbil was instead under the weapons that the Pasdaran provide to the Iraqi militiamen. There, in Iraqi Kurdistan, Western forces – including an Army device framed in Task Force Land – train the Peshmerga.
The Kurdish security units have shown all their worth in the fight against the Islamic State: now Italian soldiers are engaged in the Kurdistan Mentoring Coordination Center to allow continuous training in the face of a problem, IS, creeping and clandestine but not completely solved . The presence of the military from Italy, the US or other Western countries is legally legitimized through agreements with the Baghdad government, but for the Shiite militias they are occupation forces. As during the Iraq War, and this is the ideological reason they use to fight them.
More in practice, there are two issues. The first, internal: if the Iraqi security forces are able, thanks to Western training, to build their own full capacity then the role of the militias will fail; the paramilitary groups have been partially integrated into the security system in Iraq after gaining gallons in the fight against the Baghdadists, they are militias connected to the parties, which often move like a mafia, replace the state following their own interests and gains, which moreover in some cases they see them in competition. Second, external question: the militias are independent realities, but have various levels of connection (and coordination) with Iran, and the Pasdaran use them as a multiplier of influence; are part of the match between Tehran and Washington,
Iraq for years has been a battleground in this match, which although with the Biden administration has returned to play also on the negotiating tables, remains very delicate on the military one. An incident, such as the killing of an American soldier in one of those attacks, could lead to a violent reaction that could also involve the Islamic Republic. The White House of Democrat Joe Biden , despite continuing to push talks with Tehran, has already twice (in February and June) ordered bombings of militias linked to the attacks on Erbil. Now he is offering three million dollars for information on the latest actions of the Pasdaran militia godchildren, and it is not excluded that there will be more bombings in the coming days.
Military escalation is not in Washington’s plans, but in the face of certain situations it cannot be avoided; the risk of appearing too weak and an unacceptable cost. In recent days, the Pentagon explained that the latest attack on Erbil was aimed at an “important goal”: it is not specified, but there are several inside. The militias have announced that they will shoot down planes in the Kurdistan base: these are logistics aircraft, such as the four Italian transport NH90s of the “Griffon” Airmobile Task Group. That of the militiamen and propaganda that exceeds their operational capabilities, but when the rudimentary missiles fall into the compound of the base, at night, they hit randomly. Drones, on the other hand, have a GPS system that guides them, and therefore greater efficiency:
The transfer of Italian assets from the anti-IS coalition to the NATO Mission will soon begin, “thus privileging training and capacity building activities, peculiar to the NATO mission”, explained Defense Minister Lorenzo Gueriniduring the “quadrangular” on international missions. A further sensitive moment. Iraq, said the minister, for Italy is “a country with a high strategic priority”, and it is both “in terms of regional balances, and to protect our national interests” – Italian oil imports from Iraq has overtaken the Libyan one, so to speak. Guerini described the situation in the country as “critical”, both on a socio-economic and security level: in recent days, during the Iraqi Prime Minister’s visit to Palazzo Chigi, the Defense hosted the Iraqi minister, Jumaah Enad , to coordinate the line.
Enad confirmed how the Italian presence in the country is well received, a role that Italy plays directly in the commitment that NATO is increasing in training and capacity building, but also indirectly in the management of those very complicated (dis) balances between forces within the country. Everything therefore takes place in a local context and in a rather complicated regional phase, where realities interested in continuous destabilization move, like stabilizing dynamics in the entire enlarged Mediterranean. The same ones that from Iraq are projected into the Gulf – where Italy has also increased its presence by joining the European mission Emasoh, the national air-naval device for presence, surveillance and security activities of the thalassocratic lineage of Hormuz.

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