Having been inaugurated as president a little over a month ago, Joe Biden is about to face the first real test of his presidency with the country of Iran. A recent rocket attack in Northern Iran found its target when it struck a US base, reportedly killing a military contractor and wounding a soldier. This attack is seen as both one to cause damage, as well as a possible test of American’s new president’s mettle.
The attack occurred where much of the remaining presence in Iraq is based, Erbil airport. The attach was boldly claimed by a Shia group loyal to Iran in the hours following. Although the group was until the attack unknown, they are now on the US Intelligence’s radar and undoubtedly behind the first such event since Biden took office.
As some see it, this bold declaration was a complete turnaround from the posture being held by Iran during the Trump presidency, when the country chose to way their moves very carefully.
This round of attacks, however, were openly dedicated to two former power players within the region—former head of Iranian proxy, Au Mahdi al-Muhadis, and Qassam Suleimani, once the most potent Iranian in Iraq—until both individuals were reportedly killed in an airstrike Trump authorized nearly thirteen months ago.
The vehicles that were used to launch the rockets and the site the rockets emanated from were found in a few short hours after the attack, only 4.3 miles from Erbil airport—placing them well within the borders of the region of Iraq currently secured by Kurdish forces. The attack’s message was very clear—the assumed safe zone had indeed been breached, and it could be again. There is no doubt that the ball is now in Biden’s court, and it is now his move.
US intelligence officials are working on the thought that the attack was perpetrated by Iranian proxies, possibly based in Iraq, in an attempt to put to the test the strength of the solidarity between Biden an
d Riyadh. After three weeks with no phone call from the new US leader, Iran may believe they have their answer. With that said, they may be choosing to test their boundaries on another front altogether. When the two sides decide to sit down together again, the attackers may feel they have shored up their front in the discussions.
In addition to the attack on Erbil airport, those claiming responsibility are also demanding that the US military pulls their troops from Iraq, sending a warning to Kurdish leaders and taunting that even more rockets have been stored within Erbil.
Only one month into his presidency, is Biden ready for such a far-reaching decision?