Iraq stuck in the middle of escalating U.S.-Iran tensions

The lyrics from a song by a Scottish folk-rock band that was popular several decades ago might seem like an unusual and absurdly specific cultural frame through which to view the tensions that have engulfed the United States and Iran in recent times. 

But for Iraqis, as evidenced by their social media posts, protesters and statements and testimony from humanitarian aid groups, religious figures and political analysts, the 1973 Stealers Wheel song, “Stuck in the Middle with You,” makes a kind of perfect sense.

Ever since the Trump administration exited the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, reimposing sanctions and pursuing a “maximum pressure” policy on Tehran that has left the country economically and diplomatically isolated – culminating this week with an Iranian missile attack on two bases in Iraq that house U.S. troops after the Pentagon killed a top Iranian commander in a drone strike there – Iraq has been at the center of an intensifying tug of war between Tehran and Washington, according to Osamah Khalil, a historian of U.S. foreign relations and the Middle East at Syracuse University. 

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