Russian military presence in Iraq, reality or illusion

Alwaght- Since Russia started its military presence in Syria to fight the terrorists in the country, there were speculations on Russian possible military presence in Iraq.

Experts wonder whether Moscow will restrict its military operations to Syria or, regarding the fact that the terrorists are also active in Iraq, it will expand military operations into Iraqi soil.

Should the Iraqi officials ask for Russian military attendance in their country, Moscow will certainly consider their request, remarked the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. It must be noted that Russia is a strategic ally for Iraq, and in the time of the former Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, Baghdad signed several defense deals with Moscow, including ground and air defense deals, but due to some reasons the implementation of the contracts faced some challenges and Russia failed to take its share seriously in arming the Iraqi forces.

This issue is seen as a major factor behind Iraqi army’s defeat in confrontation of ISIS, which led in the occupation of major parts of Iraq’s territories by the terrorist network.

This background and the US-led anti-ISIS coalition’s failure have pushed the Iraqi officials to express favor for the Russian presence in their country. Therefore, Russia is in a process to move from Eurasia to the West Asia. Using its military forces, Moscow is intending to flex its muscles in a region beyond the Eurasia that could be viewed as a serious warning to the West.

The US has reacted in a confused way to the Russia’s new measures, because Washington is afraid that the Russians, as newcomers to the battlefield, could gain the control of the situation in Iraq. The US, which paid a high price in terms of military personnel fatalities and financial expenses, could not accept a renewed Russian power in Iraq.

The concerns over Russia’s presence in Iraq have driven the US and its allies to intensify airstrikes in Iraq’s Baiji and Ramadi cities. An American official has noted that the ISIS terrorists have never faced such a scale of coalition’s air raids.

In addition to the regional and International dimensions of Russia’s military presence in Iraq, it should not be forgotten that several groups of terrorists have come from Central Asian and Caucasian region, posing a big threat and danger to Russia. Because the members of these groups are well-trained, and in addition to having the potentials to personally conduct terror attacks in Russia or any other point, they could train other members to expand their terrorist networks into central Asia, Russia in particular.

Therefore, one of the drives that pushes Russia to carry out air strikes in Iraq is that it wants to crush the Chechenia terrorists or other elements that could be risky to Moscow.

For that reason, the Russian military presence in Iraq is of great significance, and it could have a remarkable impact on developments in Iraq as well the West Asia, as it could decrease the danger of the terrorist groups’ presence in the areas around Russia.

By Alwaght