Iran is said to have sent Fateh-110 missiles and others to Iraq (Missile Threat)
December 4 the New York Times reported that U.S. officials warned that Iran continued to move short range missiles into neighboring Iraq. It noted in August 2018 Reuters reported the same thing. In fact, this was no new news at all. As early as March 2015, there were stories that Tehran was giving missiles to its allies within the Hashd al-Shaabi to use in its war against the Islamic State. Iran has now shifted its strategy to use these missiles as part of its regional and international policy towards its rivals.
On March 16, 2015 the New York Times had a story that from February to March Iran sent missiles to the Hashd groups it supported. These included the Fajr-5 and Fateh-110 missiles. U.S. officials thought they would be used in the upcoming assault upon Tikrit. One military analyst said that these were largely inaccurate weapons, and best used at a large urban targets like Tikrit. This was the start of Iran’s strategy. Initially, the missiles were being sent to eliminate the short term threat of the Islamic State. They were used as tactical weapons by Hashd units during the war.
Three years later an array of officials from different countries told Reuters that the missiles were still flowing into Iraq. 3 Iranian, 2 Iraqi, and 2 western sources all confirmed that missiles were still going to pro-Iran Hashd units. This included the Fateh-110 missiles mentioned by the Times in 2015, but other versions as well such as the Zelzal and Zofaqar. Instead of being used against the Islamic State, Iran had moved onto a new goal. The missiles were being placed in Iraq for strategic depth to ensure that Tehran had an array of launch systems from a variety of areas within and without its territory to be used in case of a U.S. attack, and also to deter Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Iran’s policy actually backfired when Israel struck a series of targets in Iraq during the summer. Starting in July 2019, four bases in Salahaddin, Baghdad and Diyala used by pro-Iran Hashd were struck by Israeli jets that were in part going after some of these missiles. Rather than deter Israel, Iran’s policy seemed to provoke it instead. Even though these attacks only lasted two months it was a message to Tehran that Israel could hit these missiles anytime and anyplace it wanted.
The U.S. on the other hand has been more constrained because of the disinterest of President Trump. Besides American officials going to the press, no moves have been made against these actions. The U.S.’s influence in Iraq has severely decreased in recent years. Recently resigned Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi welcomed American training, but did nothing about Iranian influence. More importantly, President Trump has no interest in Iraq, and despite the “Maximum Pressure” policy barely pays attention to Iran either. Without the support of the White House there is little policy makers can do.
Barnes, Julian and Schmitt, Eric, “Iran Is Secretly Moving Missiles Into Iraq, U.S. Officials Say,” New York Times, 12/4/19
Al Hurra, “The scenes of the transfer of Iranian missiles to Iraq .. and the secret of the secret documents,” 12/5/19
Johnston, Holly, “Iran moving ballistic missiles into Iraq: US officials,” Rudaw, 12/5/19
Reuters, “Iran moves missiles to Iraq in warning to enemies: Sources,” 8/31/18
Schmitt, Eric, “Iran Sent Arms to Iraq to Fight ISIS, U.S. Says,” New York Times, 3/16/15
Starr, Barbara, “Intelligence agencies have tracked Iranian short-range ballistic into Iraq, US official says,” CNN, 12/5/19