A barrage of seven mortar shells targeting the US embassy in the early hours of 8 December broke almost a year of calm in Baghdad’s Green Zone. The strike is the highest profile attack in a series conducted by the country’s Iran-aligned militias against American interests in Iraq and Syria over the past two months, and calls into question Iraqi PM Mohammed al-Sudani’s pledge to protect diplomatic missions. Mounting instability could also threaten efforts to attract foreign investment.

These militias have now conducted more than 100 such strikes according to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, part of a coordinated regional retaliation by Tehran’s proxies against Washington’s staunch support of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. This includes Hezbollah’s daily bombardment of Israel from southern Lebanon and regular maritime attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels ( MEES, 1 December). Baghdad, by lobbying Tehran, has been able to contain the severity of these attacks so as not to provoke a major American response. But while there have to date been no US casualties, an attack on the US embassy must come close to crossing US red lines. (CONTINUED - 1803 WORDS)