A member of Iraqi security forces walks past the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, January 2020
Thaier Al-Sudani / Reuters

The assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani on the outskirts of Baghdad was a major escalation in the conflict between the United States and Iran. But the U.S. drone strike that killed the powerful commander of the Quds Force within Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps might claim another casualty as well: the U.S.-Iraqi relationship. Allied with both the United States and Iran, Iraq now finds itself as the frontline battleground for these two foes. 

The precarious state of Washington’s relationship with Baghdad was apparent even before the United States killed Soleimani on January 3. It was thrown into stark relief on New Year’s Eve, when Iraqi security forces looked the other way as hundreds of Iraqi militia supporters attacked the U.S. embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone. Embassy staff were kept under lockdown and U.S. Apache helicopters hovered overhead as the pro-Iranian militia

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  • EMMA SKY is Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg World Fellows Program at Yale University and a Senior Fellow at Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. The author of In a Time of Monsters: Travels through a Middle East in Revolt, she served in Iraq from 2003 to 2004 as Governorate Coordinator of Kirkuk and from 2007 to 2010 as Political Adviser to General Raymond Odierno, then Commanding General of U.S. forces in Iraq.
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