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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.

伊拉克人在感知即將來臨的危險方面的感知能力已經得到了很好的磨練,這源于他們擁有了近40年在危機和戰爭中的殘酷經歷。三個月前,我問過巴格達的一位朋友,她和她的朋友們如何看待未來,她說,在她看來,目前伊拉克比2003年美英入侵以來的任何時候都要和平。

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.

她說,她認識的人普遍情緒低落,因為他們認為下一場美國與伊朗之間戰爭可能會發生在伊拉克。她說:“我的許多朋友對美伊戰爭非常緊張,他們在離開政府部門時用遣散費在土耳其買房?!彼苍诳紤]這樣做。

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.

我的伊拉克朋友們目前對未來的預測普通很沮喪,但表現狀態一直都還好:唐納德·特朗普總統的戰爭升級行為是用無人機在巴格達機場殺害伊朗將軍卡塞姆·索萊馬尼,這坐實了伊拉克將面臨充滿著暴力的未來。這可能不會導致全面的軍事沖突,到那個時候,美伊的競爭可能不會擺到明面上,但伊拉克會是政治和軍事舞臺,伊朗及其伊拉克盟友可能會或不會立即對美國采取某種報復行動,但他們最重要的反擊將是向伊拉克政府、議會和安全部隊施壓,迫使美軍完全撤出伊拉克。



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.

據說戰爭是由犯錯誤最少的將軍們贏得的。索萊馬尼將軍在過去的三個月里犯了一個嚴重的錯誤,把一場溫和的抗議變成了一場接近大規模起義的事件。特朗普可能犯了一個更嚴重的錯誤,他殺害了索萊馬尼將軍,并讓伊拉克成為一個伊朗比美國更有影響力的地方,在這個區域上,這兩個大國之間的競爭將被擊退?,F在我明白了,我在巴格達的朋友三個月前可能是對的,他建議退休到土耳其可能是最安全的選擇。