is an empire once again at last, and its capital is Baghdad”
Younesi, an adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and
Special Assistant on Ethnic and Religious Minorities Affairs
eastern and southern regions of Iraq, with majority Shia populations,
has always tended to fall within the orbit of Iran's
influence. During the Iran-Iraq war - 1980 to 1988 -
Iran funded Shiite militias with the aim of overthrowing
Saddam Hussein's government.
two countries ultimately ground each other into a stalemate but after
the US invasion and subsequent withdrawal from Iraq, Iran's ability
to project power into Iraq has only grown exponentially to the point
where they are the predominant force influencing internal affairs in
the Islamic State group's blitz through Iraq and march toward
Baghdad, Iranian-funded Shiite militias were remobilized. The most
powerful of them was the Badr Organization, an Iranian-backed
political and military organization that has carried out revenge
attacks against Sunnis throughout Iraq.
Shiite Militias Inflame the Sectarian Divide
Khorasani Brigade is just one of dozens of similar militias that are
essentially running their own show in parts of the country. These
Shiite militias are supplied with weapons and equipment from the
central government in Baghdad, which is now being assisted by a
U.S.-led military alliance in its fight against the Islamic State.
is mounting evidence that Iraq’s Shiite militias are using the
fight against the Islamic State as cover for a campaign of sectarian
violence targeting Sunni Arab communities.
Baghdad authorities have turned a blind eye to these militias’
crimes, while foreign governments have ignored the militias’ use of
their military aid to pursue their campaign against Sunni Arabs.
became an issue for the US, because such sectarian militias,
generally loyal to Iran, killed and maimed hundreds of American
troops during the Iraq war.
a little hard for us to be allied on the battlefield with groups of
individuals who are unrepentantly covered in American blood,"
Ryan Crocker, a career diplomat who served as the US ambassador to
Iraq from 2007 to 2009, told US News.
recently the so-called Special Groups have played a pivotal role in
halting the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, after the
Iraqi Army disintegrated.
and its Iraqi proxies have been carving out a zone of influence in
eastern Iraq for well over a decade," writes Michael
Knights, a fellow at the Washington Institute. "And this zone,
as [US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey]
noted, is expanding."
Suleimani & Iran's QUDS Force
military mastermind, Qassem Suleimani, has played pivotal roles in
the deployment of Iranian assets against ISIS in Iraq. Suleimani
was present during the successful siege of Amerli in August
2014, and he is on the frontlines of the battle against
ISIS in Tikrit.
is the head of the Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps,
putting him in charge of directing Iranian proxies throughout the
presence in various frontline battles serves to underscore the
propaganda of an ascendant Iran with its forces battling for control
throughout the region.
Battle for Tikrit
is under siege by a coalition of Iranian-backed Shiite
militias and Iraqi army forces. The offensive is being overseen by
the forces liberate Tikrit from ISIS, Iran will have scored a
significant propaganda win.
seizure will place Iranian-backed forces on the road to
ISIS-controlled Mosul, Iraq's second-biggest city, and humiliate
Sunnis by having Iran take control of Saddam Hussein's hometown.
the US has to sit back and watch. The image below by Ahmad
Al-Rubaye shows Iraqi Shiite militia fighters after pushing back
ISIS militants on September 3, 2014 on the road between Amerli and
Tikrit in Iraq.
Attitude to Suleimani & Iraq
just no way that the US military can actively support an offensive
led by Suleimani" says Christopher Harmer, a former
aviator in the United States Navy in the Persian Gulf.
who is now an analyst with the Institute for the Study of War,
also told Helene Cooper of The New York Times that
Suleimani is "a more stately version of Osama bin
assist in the siege of Tikrit and further military operations against
ISIS, Iran has moved advanced rockets and artillery systems into
Iraq, The New York Times reports.
systems have introduced a new level of sophistication into the Iraqi
warzone and could further inflame sectarian tensions as the artillery
is often imprecise and has the potential to cause collateral damage.
Fajr-5 rocket and Fateh-110 missile launching systems are typically
carried on a specially designed truck and are formidable additions to
the Iraqi arsenal," The Times notes. "Fajr-5 rockets, which
are named after the Persian word for dawn, have a range of about 45
miles. Each is 20 feet long and weighs more than 2,000 pounds. The
Fajr-5 warhead alone weighs 375 pounds ... The Fateh-110 missile is
even more capable than the Fajr-5."
November 2014, Iranian pilots bombed ISIS positions in
Diyala, a religiously mixed Iraqi province that abuts Iran.
presence of Iranian planes conducting airstrikes at the same time and
in the same region as US military operations showed at least a
deconfliction between the two countries' militaries. (The same thing
is happening in Syria.)
ambitions go far beyond Iraq and are taking
them increasingly closer to the borders of the
country's regional adversaries.
month, Suleimani gloated: "We are witnessing the export of
the Islamic Revolution throughout the region. From Bahrain and Iraq
to Syria, Yemen and North Africa."
Badran, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of
Democracies, explains what Iran's military mastermind means by this:
"When he talks about exporting the Islamic Revolution, Suleimani
is referring to a very specific template. It's the template that the
Khomeinist revolutionaries first set up in Lebanon 36 years
ago by cloning the various instruments that were burgeoning in Iran
as the Islamic revolutionary regime consolidated its power.
a result, Hezbollah remains the most comprehensive and developed
export of the Iranian model ... Now the Islamic revolutionary model
is being reproduced in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen as well, by setting up
those same structures."
is why Ali Khedery, who served as a special assistant to five US
ambassadors and as a senior adviser to three heads of US Central
Command between 2003 and 2009, told The New York Times in
December that Suleimani was "the leader of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq,
and Yemen," adding that "Iraq is not sovereign. It is led
by Suleimani, and his boss," Iranian Supreme Leader Grand
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei."
Knights, Fellow at the Washington Institute
Lengler, Experience Consultant, https://www.quora.com/Ralph-Lengler
Foreign Policy Group
Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East
- Ali Mamouri, Columnist,
Al-Monitor's Iraq Pulse
ShahidSaless, Political Analyst and Freelance Journalist
Rybak, TMG Corporate Services
Labels: AQAP, Fars News Agency, Hezbollah, Iran, Iraq, IS, ISIL, ISIS, Islamic State, Islamic State of Iraq & the Levant, Syria, Turkey