原創翻譯:龍騰網 http://www.ktxyyo.live 翻譯:遼闊天空 轉載請注明出處

Iraqis have a well-honed instinct about approaching danger which stems from their grim experience during 40 years of crisis and war. Three months ago, I asked a friend in Baghdad how she and her friends viewed the future, adding Iraq seemed to me to be more peaceful than at any time since the US and British invaded in 2003.


She replied that the general mood among people she knew was gloomy because they believed that the next war between the US and Iran might be fought out in Iraq. She said: “Many of my friends are so nervous about a US-Iran war that they are using their severance pay on leaving government service to buy houses in Turkey.” She was thinking of doing the same thing.


My Iraqi friends turned out to have been all too right in their depressing prognosis: the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani by a US drone at Baghdad airport is an act of escalation by President Donald Trump that ensures that Iraq faces a violent future. It may not lead to a full-scale military conflict, but Iraq will be the political and military arena where the US-Iranian rivalry will be fought out. The Iranians and their Iraqi allies may or may not carry out some immediate retaliatory act against the US, but their most important counter-stroke will be to pressure the Iraqi government, parliament and security forces into pushing the US entirely out of Iraq.


I was speaking to my pessimistic friend in Baghdad in late September in what turned out to be the last peaceable days before violence returned to Iraq. I interviewed a number of paramilitary commanders from the Hashd al-Shaabi, the popular mobilisation forces, who all claimed that the US and Israel were escalating attacks on them inside the country. I wondered how much of this was paranoia.

9月下旬,我在巴格達對我悲觀的朋友說,這是暴力重返伊拉克前最后一個和平的日子。我采訪了一些來自哈什德沙比(Hashd al-Shaabi)的準軍事指揮官,他們都聲稱因為美國和以色列不斷升級對他們的攻擊。我想知道這有多偏執。

I spoke to Abu Alaa al-Walai, the leader of Kata’ib Sayyid al Shuhada, a splinter group of Kata’ib Hezbollah, one of whose camps had been destroyed by a drone attack in August. He said that 50 tonnes of weapons and ammunition had been blown up, blaming the Israelis and the Americans acting in concert. Asked if his men would attack US forces in Iraq in the event of a US-Iran war, he said: “Absolutely yes.” Later I visited the camp, called al-Saqr, on the outskirts of Baghdad where a massive explosion had gutted sheds and littered the burned-out compound with shattered pieces of equipment.

我采訪了卡塔伊布·賽義德·舒哈達(Kata''ib Sayyid al-Shuhada)的領導人阿布·阿拉·瓦萊(Abu al a a al-Walai),這是卡塔伊布真主黨的一個分裂組織,8月份的一次無人機襲擊摧毀了其中一個營地。他說,50噸武器彈藥被炸毀,歸咎于以色列和美國的一致行動。當被問及他的手下是否會在美伊戰爭中襲擊駐伊美軍時,他說:“絕對會的?!焙髞砦以L問了巴格達郊區的一個名為al-Saqr的營地,那里剛發生了大規模爆炸,棚屋被炸毀,燒毀的院落里散落著破碎的設備碎片。

I saw other pro-Iranian paramilitary leaders at this time. The drone attacks had made them edgy, but I got the impression that they did not really expect a US-Iran war. Qais al-Khazali, the head of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, told me that he did not think there would be a war “because Trump does not want one.” As evidence of this, he pointed to the failure of Trump to retaliate after the drone attack on Saudi oil facilities earlier in September that Washington had been blamed on Iran.

當時我看到了其他親伊朗的準軍事領導人。無人駕駛飛機的襲擊使他們變得緊張,但我得到的印象是,他們并沒有真正預料到美伊戰爭。Asaib Ahl al-Haq的負責人卡伊斯·哈扎利(Qais al-Khazali)告訴我,他認為不會有戰爭,“因為特朗普不想要戰爭”。作為這一點的證據,他指出,在9月早些時候無人駕駛飛機襲擊沙特石油設施,華盛頓指責是伊朗的責任之后,特朗普沒有進行報復。

Wars are reputedly won by generals who make the least mistakes. General Soleimani made a bad mistake over the last three months by turning a modest protest into something close to a mass uprising. Trump may have made an even worse mistake by killing General Soleimani and making Iraq, a place where Iran has far more going for it than the US, the arena in which the rivalry between these two powers will be fought out. I can see now that my friend in Baghdad may well have been right three months ago in suggesting that retirement to Turkey might be the safest option.