The Future of Iraq: Troops Face Dangers in South outlines the increasing dangers US troops, as well as the rest of Iraq, face in the volatile south. The southern regions of Iraq are and always have been Shiite strongholds, a fertile crescent of Iranian influence and happy places for al Sadr’s people. Unfortunately, that’s also where much of the easy-to-get oil is.
Another sign that the south is going to be trouble for some time was today’s rocket attack against an Iraqi oil storage depot that set one tank ablaze in a rare assault on strategic southern oilfields. Dhiya Jaffar, head of the state-run South Oil Company, told Reuters the attack set ablaze one tank at the Zubair 1 storage facility. An Iraqi police source said bombs targeted four tanks at the facility, but only one of the tanks hit contained crude and ignited. Another bomb hit an empty tank and bombs at two other tanks were deactivated, the police source said.
While the attack disrupted relatively little of the oil flow, it was not for lack of trying. Expect more as the US-Iran proxy war and Iraq’s problems with raising its oil output continue to collide in the South.
Still want more evidence of the Southern mess? Have a look at the growing tensions in Maysan, where the new Governor refused to meet with US PRT personnel, and told local agencies and non-government organizations not to cooperate with them either. The Americans responded in turn, by cutting their training of local forces there. Can’t see all that leading anywhere good.
Note that the continued presence of US troops in the area simply adds fuel to the fire; there are enough soldiers to keep tensions high, but without the mandate or the force (after eight years!) to tamp down the sparks (end of fire metaphor).
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