The Chicago Journal

Lloyd Austin traveled to Baghdad in a show of support

Lloyd AustinThe American press made a surprising statement on Tuesday, revealing that a senior White House official had arrived in Baghdad.

They followed US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on an unannounced visit to Iraq, when he stated that US forces stationed there were ” ready to remain in Iraq.”

The news

Lloyd Austin is the highest-ranking Cabinet official to visit Baghdad since the commencement of the Biden administration in 2020.

Austin, according to the press pool, issued a statement confirming his presence in Iraq.

Austin’s presence is intended to reinforce the US-Iraq strategic alliance as it works to build “a more secure, stable, and sovereign Iraq.”

The visit

Lloyd Austin’s visit to Baghdad comes only days before the 20th anniversary of the United States’ invasion of Iraq to depose tyrant Saddam Hussein.

“We’re deeply committed to ensuring that the Iraqi people can live in peace and dignity, with safety and security and with economic opportunity for all,” said Austin.

“We’ll continue to harness the professionalism of the coalition’s diplomats and assistance experts and warfighters, as well as the incredible professionals in the NATO mission here.”

“We’ll continue to increase interoperability among our allies and partners, and we’ll continue working to accomplish this mission together.”

“Now, looking forward, US forces are ready to remain in Iraq at the invitation of the Government of Iraq,” continued Austin.

“And these forces are operating in a non combat, advise, assist, and enable role to support the Iraqi-led fight against terrorism.”

“This is a critical mission. And we’re proud to support our Iraqi partners.”

“We’re focused on the mission of defeating Daesh, and we are here for no other purpose, and threats or attacks on our forces only undermine that mission.”

The fight against ISIS

Iraq is a critical ally in the United States’ continuing fight to demolish ISIS.

The present campaign, on the other hand, is one-of-a-kind.

In Syria, American soldiers collaborated with the Syrian Democratic Forces and other allies.

Following the formal end of the combat operation in Iraq in 2021, the US military will provide advice and assistance.

“The United States will continue to strengthen and broaden our partnerships in support of Iraqi security, stability, and sovereignty,” said Austin.

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Lloyd Austin sat down with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani for a discussion.

On his visit to Baghdad, Austin is anticipated to speak with other top authorities.

According to Lloyd Austin’s press pool, his encounter with Iraq’s prime minister was not recorded on video.

Meanwhile, al-Sudani welcomed Austin’s visit, marking the continuation of collaboration with the US.

The creation of Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani’s administration ended months of political gridlock and occasionally violent demonstrations.

During their discussion, al-Sudani told Lloyd Austin that Iraq is keen to develop and cement its relations with the US, according to the prime minister’s office.

Iraq will be crucial in the United States’ efforts to limit Iranian influence in the region.

Iran has already sought to assert authority over Iraq through proxy troops and Tehran’s influence in Baghdad Shia political organizations.

Al-Sudani’s ascent

Prior to al-Sudani’s recent ascension to the position of Prime Minister, Shia Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr was a front-runner to take over the government following the recent elections.

Al-Sadr was outspoken in his opposition to both Iran and the United States.

Nevertheless, resistance from competing parties contributed to his inability to build a government.

Finally, al-Sadr’s failure presented an opening for al-Sudani, who has demonstrated a desire to strengthen Baghdad’s ties with the United States, notably Washington.

US support

After his visit to Baghdad, Lloyd Austin flew to Erbil, the northern Kurdish regional capital of Iraq.

He met with Nechirvan Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan Region and the Commander in Chief of the Region’s Military Forces.

Nechirvan Barzani and Lloyd Austin stressed the importance of American assistance for Iraq and the Kurdish region during a joint news conference.

Barzan underlined similar interests and ideals, drawing the two closer.

Lloyd Austin emphasized the US-Kurdish Peshmerga collaboration to improve counterterrorism in the fight against ISIS.

“Through the Global Coalition to Defeat Daash (ISIS), we liberated more than 50,000 square kilometers from Daash (ISIS) and we freed more than 4.5 million Iraqis from their cruel grip,” said Austin.

The USMNT move forward after beating Iran

The USMNT (United States Men’s National Team) finished their group matches by defeating Iran in the World Cup in Qatar.

After a draw in the first two games, the team needed a win to advance to the next round.

However, thanks to a goal from Christian Pulisic, the USMNT managed to break through.


The game against Iran was a make-or-break situation for Gregg Berhalter and the USMNT after they failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

Despite a past absence, the team more than made up for that after three games.

While the first two games were problematic, as Team USA dropped four points to Wales and England, the USMNT managed to move on to the next phase.

Christian Pulisic scored in the first half and gave Iran a mountain to climb.

At the final whistle, the USMNT reached the round of 16 for the first time since the 2014 World Cup.

However, Berhalter and the young Americans became concerned after star player Pulisic suffered an abdominal injury while scoring the game-winning goal.

Read also: USMNT ends first World Cup game in a draw


Gregg Berhalter fielded a solid eleven against Iran in a game they needed to win.

The team consisted of the following people:

  • Matt Turner
  • Antonee Robinson
  • Tim Ream
  • Cameron Carter-Vickers
  • Sergino Dest
  • Tyler Adams
  • Yunus Musah
  • Weston McKennie
  • Christian Pulisic
  • Josh Sargent
  • Tim Weah

Meanwhile, Iran assembled a strong team to make life difficult for the American side.

Carlos Queiroz built a team that included:

  • Alireza Beiranvand
  • Ehsan Hajsafi
  • Milad Mohammadi
  • Saeid Ezatolahi
  • Morteza Pouraliganji
  • Mehdi Taremi
  • Ali Gholizadeh
  • Majid Hosseini
  • Sardar Azmoun
  • Ahmad Nourollahi
  • Ramin Rezaeian

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The match

The clash between the USMNT and Iran would always be intense.

It was also their first meeting on the soccer field.

Gregg Berhalter’s team showed determination during the match, and the USMNT started with 65% possession.

However, Team USA’s first chance came after about half an hour.

The Iranian keeper quickly intercepted an attempt by Tim Weah, but that only spurred the USMNT to do better.

Finally, Christian Pulisic broke the deadlock while clashing with Beiranvand.

“Captain America” ​​​​​​​​​​​​​had to be helped off the field by two medics.

Even when he returned to the game, Pulisic was clearly in pain.

As the second half began, Iran did everything possible to hold back the United States.

Substitute Saman Ghoddos had two chances to level the field, but Matt Turner remained unmoved.

Iran claimed a penalty when Mehdi Taremi fouled Carter-Vickers.

However, VAR ruled it was not a penalty.

Referee Mateu Lahoz blew the final whistle signaling progress for the USMNT and heartache for Iran.

Team USA meets a robust Dutch side who beat hosts Qatar 2-0 in the next round.


USMNT advances to World Cup knockout stage with hard-fought victory over Iran

Protests continue in Iran: looking into what happened


Protests continue to erupt across Iran even as the government cracks down and state media say the protesters have ended their demonstrations.

The trigger

The protests, now on their tenth day, were sparked by the death of a 22-year-old woman named Mahsa Amini.

Amini died in a hospital three days after the Tehran morality police detained her and took her to a “re-education center.”

The reason for the arrest was that Amini violated the rules of the state headscarf.

The protests

Since then, protests have erupted in more than 40 cities, including Tehran.

Dozens were killed in clashes with security forces, and state-sponsored media revealed that at least 1,200 were arrested.

The demonstrations originally began as a call for justice for Amini’s death, but evolved into a broader protest: the unification of factions and social classes calling for the overthrow of the regime.

How are the protests different from the past?

The recent protests are not very different from previous anti-government movements.

However, according to experts, today’s fundamental problems have made the situation more relevant.

Esfandyar Batmangelidj, founder and CEO of London’s Stock Exchange & Bazaar Foundation, said the first waves in 2019, 2021, and earlier this year were driven by economic woes.

He also said this is one of the main reasons the protests have not spread to other sections of society.

“This is different, because what people are really asking for is a more significant kind of political change,” Batmanghelidj explained.

He added that the movement makes it easier to “generate solidarity among different social groups.”

According to Sanam Vakil, the protests also brought together young Iranians with internet access who were unfamiliar with Iran before the Islamic Republic.

Vakil is a Senior Fellow for the Middle East and North Africa Program at Chatham House Think Tank in London.

The Iranian government

Trita Parsi, vice president of the Quincy Institute in Washington, DC, says the Iranian government doesn’t seem to feel any more vulnerable than before.

However, he also says they may misunderstand the situation.

Experts believe that the protests will only grow.

On Sunday, one of the main Iranian teachers’ unions called for a nationwide strike.

Strikes by Iranian workers are more sensitive because they evoke memories of the 1979 revolution, when collective union action proved to be a tactical means of overthrowing the Shah.

“I think it is quite likely that we will see more strikes because the strikes were happening even before this [movement],” said Parsi.

“They may end up being mutually reinforcing.”

Possible end of the conflict

Analysts believe the protests will end with the use of brute force rather than concessions.

The Iranian government has accused the Western media of being behind the protests, especially foreign conspiracies.

According to analysts, this will determine how they will be treated.

“If they see this as a security threat and not as an issue of political expedience, then they are more likely to respond using the tools of their security apparatus,” said Batmanghelidj.

“The government has far more capacity for repression than it does for reform at this stage.”

Vakil said that if the authorities were to make concessions through small reforms, he would raise the question of how young women could put the hijab back on.

He says it would be a face-saving result if the government overthrew the morality police.

Vakil believes that the hijab law is unlikely to be abolished entirely.

He also suggests that a referendum in which Iranians can vote on the hijab issue could help quell the protests, but doubts will arise.

To what extent will the government become vulnerable?

The protests continue without a leader, even as the protests have spread across the country for ten days and the death toll is rising.

The protests’ most vocal and visible figures are living in exile after the government restricted internet access at home.

“This is an indigenous Iranian movement,” said Vakil.

“It is important to stress ordinary Iranians inside the country are the mobilizers of what is happening.”

According to Batmanghelidj, it is necessary to have a leader to negotiate changes with the government and lead the movement.

The protests bear the brunt of several grievances, including compulsory hijab and the brutality of the state security apparatus.

It remains to be seen whether there are members of the Iranian government who understand what is at stake and are prepared to push for a meaningful change in the existing power structure.


What you need to know about Iran’s raging protests