Reuters is reporting, from seven different sources – three Iranian, two Iraqi and two Western Intelligence sources – that Iran is moving short range ballistic missiles into Iraq. It seems that Iran’s war by proxy – which it has been conducting for years with Hezbollah in Lebanon and more recently, the Houti’s in Yemen – is now expanding to include it’s militia allies in Iraq. Iran has provided Hezbollah with literally thousands of missiles over the years and the Houti’s have recently launched many of these same ballistic missiles against the Saudis.
While Iran has waged this war by proxy for several years, they appear to be expanding this in Iraq by providing its local allies there with the capability of manufacturing them in Iraq as well. Intelligence sources are claiming that three factories exist: One in in al-Zafaraniya, east of Baghdad, and one in Jurf al-Sakhar, north of Kerbala. They also supposedly have one Iraqi Kurdistan.
The missiles that Iran has introduced into Iraq have ranges anywhere from 200 km to 700 km – which means that missiles launched from Iraq’s western Anbar province would have the capability of hitting a wide range of targets, from Riyadh to Amman, Jordan; and Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
An obvious question about all of this is how the Iraqi government could allow this, especially when the US still has several thousand troops in both Iraq and Syria fighting ISIS. However, an Iraqi intelligence source noted that “It was clear to Iraqi intelligence that such a missile arsenal sent by Iran was not meant to fight Daesh (Islamic State) militants but as a pressure card Iran can use once involved in regional conflict.” This source continued: “We can’t restrain militias from firing Iranian rockets because simply the firing button is not in our hands, it’s with Iranians who control the push button,” he said. The militias referred to here are known locally as the Popular Mobilization Forces and they are scattered throughout Iraq. Those PMF groups that have a strong Shiite contingent have a fierce loyalty to Iran and it’s Quds Force leader, General Qassim Soleimani.
Not surprisingly, all representatives of the Israeli government declined to comment on this. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo simply indicated that he was “deeply concerned.” Obviously, nothing good can come from this latest development.