Atheel al-Nujaifi, the governor of Iraq‘s Nineveh province said last week that signs calling on the destruction of America ‘are evidence of the government‘s inability to control pro-Iranian groups who want to drag Iraq into an international conflict that endangers the country‘s future on behalf of Iran‘.
One of the billboards in the Iraqi capital shows a shocking depiction of the Statue of Liberty and President Donald Trump with the caption: ‘The U.S.
is responsible for the region‘s insecurity and instability,‘ for supporting Israel.
There are at least five signs in central Baghdad, with some less than a mile from the U.S.
embassy, the Iraqi presidential palace and the government‘s headquarters.
Iraqi President Barham Salih said in May that he was ‘very worried‘ by the potential for more conflict in Iraq.
‘Iraq has been living through hell for the last four decades,‘ he said to CBS News.
‘Enough of wars, enough of conflict, and certainly, Iraqis do not want to see this country yet again turn into a zone of proxy conflict.‘
The relationship between Iran and Iraqi militia groups extends back to their joint efforts to drive ISIS out of Iraq.
To this day, the Shiite, Iranian-backed ‘Popular Mobilization Units‘ (PMU) still have influence across swathes of Iraq, not least in Baghdad.
This puts Iraq, who are US allies, in a tenuous position because the government still relies on the support of local militias.
A former Iraqi presidential adviser Hiwa Osman told CBS News that the signs indicate how big a grip Iran has in parts of the country.
Osman said: ‘America doesn‘t scare anyone‘ in Iraq, but ‘Iran does.
If you speak against America nothing happens.
‘If you speak against Iran, you are likely to get killed.‘
Last month, Ambassador Jonathan Cohen, then the USA‘s acting permanent representative to the United Nations, warned that ‘Iran‘s sponsorship of destabilizing armed groups in Iraq operating outside of government control undermines Iraq‘s sovereignty and threatens the safety of civilians.‘
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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