UN envoy warns Mideast tensions could deal huge blow to Iraq

UN envoy warns Mideast tensions could deal huge blow to Iraq

The U.N. envoy for Iraq warned Wednesday that current tensions could deal “a huge blow” in efforts to rebuild a stable and prosperous country following the defeat of the Islamic State extremist group.

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert told the Security Council that “we must spare no effort in avoiding this prospect.”

Iraq’s fragile government is walking a fine line trying to manage its alliances with both the United States and Iran amid rising tensions between those two countries.

But anger is mounting in Iraq following a recent spate of mysterious airstrikes that have targeted military bases and a weapons depot belonging to Iran-backed Shiite militias. The drone attacks have not been claimed by any side, but U.S. officials have said Israel was behind at least one of the attacks.

The militias have blamed the attacks on Israel but hold the United States ultimately responsible. The attacks are threatening to destabilize security in Iraq, which has struggled to remain neutral in the conflict between Washington and Tehran.

Hennis-Plasschaert said Iraqi leaders are “engaging regional and international actors to ensure that their country is a meeting ground for stability and not a venue for proxy conflicts.”

She said she is “very encouraged by the government’s determination to bring all armed actors under state control” — but implementation will be crucial.

“Clearly, zero tolerance for any armed actor outside state control is the way forward,” Hennis-Plasschaert said.