IRGC attack narratives diverge as Iraq strives for unity

At least a dozen ballistic missiles shot at the Kurdistan Region of Iraq claimed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the early morning hours of March 13, left many questions in their wake.

On March 14, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi traveled to Erbil to meet with Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) representatives, visit the sites hit and show support for the regional government.

KRG President Nechirvan Barzani and Kadhimi jointly described Iran’s attack on Erbil as a “serious development,” according to a statement by the president’s office afterward.

The Ministerial Council for National Security meeting March 13 chaired by Kadhimi issued a statement stressing Iraq’s refusal to allow “its lands to attack neighboring countries.”

Some see the attack as retaliation and/or a warning amid regional alliances affected by the war in Ukraine, while others consider it an attempt to influence Iraqi politics.

The KRG said no one had died in the attack. IRGC-linked media instead cheered the alleged killing of “Mossad operatives,” in reference to Israel’s national intelligence agency.

The IRGC claimed to have hit a “strategic center” for Israeli spies in its neighboring country.

Video footage of the attack shows several massive explosions and photos taken of one site show considerable destruction to a residence on a farm north of Erbil, the KRI capital, owned by a Kurdish businessman. The offices of the media outlet Kurdistan24 also suffered damage.

The target of the attack initially appeared to have been the new US Consulate on the outskirts of Erbil, but statements later denied this despite reported damage to the massive compound under construction.

As this Al-Monitor correspondent noted in January, “Iran-linked groups have long called the sprawling US Embassy in Baghdad a ‘cove of spies’ and are likely to consider the enormous new consulate in the KRI the same.”

A meeting advocating for normalization of relations between Israel and Iraq held in Erbil in September and organized by a US think tank had led to outcry and calls for all participants to be arrested.

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