Iraq has been caught for years in a tug of war between its two most powerful patrons, the United States and Iran. In recent months, public opinion began to tilt against Iran, with street protests demanding an end to Tehran’s pervasive influence.
But American airstrikes that killed two dozen members of an Iranian-backed militia over the weekend have now made Washington the focus of public hostility, reducing the heat on Tehran and its proxies.
Iraqi leaders accused the United States on Monday of violating Iraq’s sovereignty and expressed fear that increasing tensions between the United States and Iran could escalate into a proxy war on Iraqi soil.
Even the tenor of the street protests has shifted, as anti-Iranian slogans have given way to anti-American ones. Demonstrators and others attacked what they deemed to be America’s disproportionate response — the killing of 24 militiamen on Sunday in retaliation for the death of an American contractor on Friday. [Continue reading…]