By Geneive Abdo

Under enormous pressure from the United States, on July 1, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi declared that his country’s Iranian-backed Shiite militias would now be under Iraqi government control. It is unlikely that he’ll be able to enforce his decree.

Iraq is fast becoming a battleground in the escalating conflict between the United States and Iran—and not by its own choosing. Some of the Shiite militias there, known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), are apparently doing Iran’s bidding.

On May 19, a rocket landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The United States has blamed Iran and its proxies in Iraq, including the PMF, for that attack.

That same month, the militias allegedly targeted Saudi oil facilities from Iraqi soil, presumably because Iran pushed them to do so in retaliation for U.S. sanctions on its own oil industry. There are doubts about the claim that the PMF was involved. Nonetheless, Saudi Arabia is reportedly deploying air surveillance and aerial monitoring systems on the border with Iraq, according to Arabic-language media sources, but this is not yet confirmed with Saudi officials.

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