CENTCOM Commander Kenneth McKenzie noted that “we’re seeing a beginning of a spike in unprovoked rocket attacks on Iraqi bases that host U.S. forces in Iraq. It’s my belief that Iran and its proxies are beginning to turn to that because they see they've been unable to prevail in the political realm in Iraq”. Describing Iraq as “the principle theatre of confrontation”, McKenzie posited that the Iranians “do, as a policy objective, want to eject us from the theatre. And they’d like to begin with Iraq going to that end”. He further acknowledged the Kadhimi government’s commitment “to provide protection for U.S. forces” in Iraq and maintained: “we have seen the Iraqis be very aggressive in attempting to respond against those attacks”. “We’re in the process of right sizing our force structure there”, McKenzie noted, predicting that “we’re probably going to get smaller… I do not believe that number is going to be zero. I believe they’re going to want us to stay”. Citing a recent survey, the commander maintained that “for the first time in a long time, the U.S. had a higher favorability rating than Iran in Iraq… [It] is something that should give us all pause that we're actually perhaps beginning to accomplish some of our objectives in Iraq that we've pursued for a long time”.
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