Rising Violence in Basra Highlights U.S.-Iran Fight for Influence in Iraq by Isabel Coles and Ali Nabhan – Wall Street Journal
The firing of rockets toward American diplomatic missions in Iraq after protesters torched the Iranian consulate in Basra raised tensions as the U.S. and Iran vie to shape the country’s next government.
On Sunday, an uneasy calm held after more troops were sent to the southern city and a curfew imposed to restore order following a week of protests in Basra.
Demonstrations flared in Basra this month after thousands fell ill because the water supply was contaminated, and intensified last week after several protesters were killed. Protesters burned the offices of most political parties in Basra, including powerful Iran-backed paramilitary groups.
It isn’t clear who fired the rockets toward the U.S. diplomatic missions and no damage was caused. But some politicians and analysts saw the attacks as a warning signal to Washington as it sought to prevent factions close to Iran from dictating government formation after the parliamentary election in May. U.S. envoy Brett McGurk had leaned heavily on Kurdish and Sunni parties to back the coalition of which Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was a part…