What Will The Antichrist Do To Get Washington’s Backing?

What Will Iraq’s Sadr Do To Get Washington’s Backing?- Analysis

Al Bawaba NewsApril 19, 2021

Iraq’s Muqtada al-Sadr. Photo Credit: Tasnim News Agency.

Informed Iraqi sources said that the Sadrist movement has begun to prepare for the upcoming Iraqi elections and that it will present itself to the US as a “moderate” movement and the best option in the Iraqi Shia community.

The sources told The Arab Weekly that the Shia political spectrum is now divided between the pro-Iranian Popular Mobilisation Forces, accused by the US of responsibility for attacks targeting its forces in Iraq; the Dawa Party, which is internally splintered and the remnants of smaller formations, such as the Al-Hikma groups.

In this context, the Sadrist movement finds itself to be the strongest and most influential political faction, despite the fact that many forces within the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) were originally offshoots of the Sadrist movement.

An Iraqi source familiar with the movement’s internal discussions said, “The time for propaganda against American occupation is gone after the Sadrist movement had a taste of power. It has benefited from the quota system through the appointment of cabinet members in various positions and subsequently gained a level of influence within Iraqi state institutions that is similar to that wielded by the Dawa Party.”

He added that, “The leader of the movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, realises that the options of the United States are limited. There is no way to deal with the PMF, which is almost completely under the thumb of the Iranian Quds Force, nor with the Dawa Party, whose fortunes are eroding and which stands accused by many of its followers of corruption, nor with the smaller Shia groups that enjoy more popularity in the media than among political activists. The Sadrist movement has become the ‘moderate tendency’ despite all that happened during the past few years.”

On Monday, Iraqi President Barham Salih signed a decree to hold early elections on October 10.

Despite the endeavours of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi to co-opt a large segment of the Shia electorate within the civil state, the Sadrist movement is betting on its popularity among the poor in major popular neighbourhoods of Baghdad, in addition to segments of the population in the central Euphrates and southern Iraq regions that are dissatisfied with the government.

Kadhimi has yet to flesh out his personal political plan even though time is running out for him.

It is unclear whether he will enter the election race as a separate political movement or whether Iran will allow him to operate politically outside the Shia grouping that is loyal to Tehran. This is especially so because the Iranians consider him to be close to Washington and to the West and hold him responsible for opening the door for the return to Iraq of the pan-Arabist policies.

The Kadhimi government has vowed to ensure “a fair voting election process under international supervision, far from the influence of arms,” but it would be difficult for the PMF militias to leave the scene without putting up a struggle.

The position of the Sadrist movement in relation to the political system in Iraq has evolved from attacking it for lack of legitimacy, when not prohibiting it altogether, to infiltrating Iraqi state institutions, the army and security services and exerting partial control over the powers of the prime minister.

The United States does not seem totally opposed to the option of backing to Sadr, as long as he is able to curtail the domination of the Popular Mobilisation Forces over the state, or confront Kadhimi’s reluctance to thwart the PMF’s daily challenge to the authorities in line with the Iranian policy of targeting US forces in Iraq with “light” strikes that do not provoke President Joe Biden’s administration and push it to a tough response against Iran or its militias.

Sadr often tries to suggest that he is outside the Iranian orbit in Iraq and that he deals with Tehran as an equal.

He stresses also that his late father, Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, saw himself as an Arab standing up to Iran’s hegemony over the supreme Shia authority of Iraq and whoever assumed it.

With the elections approaching, Nuri al-Maliki, who heads the State of Law coalition, is seeking to flirt with Sadr and bring him into the fold of Iran’s allies, minimising his differences with the populist leader.

Maliki said, “my hand is extended to whomever wants to reconcile with me, and I do not want disputes, and I do not want the continuation of the dispute, neither with Muqtada al-Sadr nor with anyone else,” denying “the existence of mediation for reconciliation with Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr.”

Iraqi observers believe that Sadr may achieve good results in the upcoming elections by billing himself a “moderate” and keeping his distance from Iran. But he will nevertheless remain part of the “Tehran system” which controls the Iraqi scene and uses it regionally for its own purposes.

Iraqi political analyst and writer Mustafa Kamel, believes, “Sadr is Iran’s most dangerous agent in Iraq (…) and the role assigned to him is limited to reshuffling cards and providing a lifeline to the political system, and this is the secret of his fluctuating positions and wavering between right and left.”

Talking to The Arab Weekly, Kamel added that Sadr might win the elections “not because he enjoys support among the Iraqis, as he is widely rejected by them,  but because overt and covert bargaining, influence-peddling and foreign interferences might push him to the fore”.

He pointed out that, during the past few years, Arab efforts have been devoted to polishing Sadr’s image but he has failed to play a national leadership role as he quickly reverted to his usual sectarian and chaotic course.

Domestic, foreign factors could boost the fortunes of the Antichrist in Iraq’s elections

Domestic, foreign factors could boost the fortunes of Sadr in Iraq’s elections

BAGHDAD – Informed Iraqi sources said that the Sadrist movement has begun to prepare for the upcoming Iraqi elections and that it will present itself to the US as a “moderate” movement and the best option in the Iraqi Shia community.

The sources told The Arab Weekly that the Shia political spectrum is now divided between the pro-Iranian Popular Mobilisation Forces, accused by the US of responsibility for attacks targeting its forces in Iraq; the Dawa Party, which is internally splintered and the remnants of smaller formations, such as the Al-Hikma groups.

In this context, the Sadrist movement finds itself to be the strongest and most influential political faction, despite the fact that many forces within the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) were originally offshoots of the Sadrist movement.

An Iraqi source familiar with the movement’s internal discussions said, “The time for propaganda against American occupation is gone after the Sadrist movement had a taste of power. It has benefited from the quota system through the appointment of cabinet members in various positions and subsequently gained a level of influence within Iraqi state institutions that is similar to that wielded by the Dawa Party.”

He added that, “The leader of the movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, realises that the options of the United States are limited. There is no way to deal with the PMF, which is almost completely under the thumb of the Iranian Quds Force, nor with the Dawa Party, whose fortunes are eroding and which stands accused by many of its followers of corruption, nor with the smaller Shia groups that enjoy more popularity in the media than among political activists. The Sadrist movement has become the ‘moderate tendency’ despite all that happened during the past few years.”

On Monday, Iraqi President Barham Salih signed a decree to hold early elections on October 10.

Despite the endeavours of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi to co-opt a large segment of the Shia electorate within the civil state, the Sadrist movement is betting on its popularity among the poor in major popular neighbourhoods of Baghdad, in addition to segments of the population in the central Euphrates and southern Iraq regions that are dissatisfied with the government.

Kadhimi has yet to flesh out his personal political plan even though time is running out for him.

It is unclear whether he will enter the election race as a separate political movement or whether Iran will allow him to operate politically outside the Shia grouping that is loyal to Tehran. This is especially so because the Iranians consider him to be close to Washington and to the West and hold him responsible for opening the door for the return to Iraq of the pan-Arabist policies.

The Kadhimi government has vowed to ensure “a fair voting election process under international supervision, far from the influence of arms,” but it would be difficult for the PMF militias to leave the scene without putting up a struggle.

The position of the Sadrist movement in relation to the political system in Iraq has evolved from attacking it for lack of legitimacy, when not prohibiting it altogether, to infiltrating Iraqi state institutions, the army and security services and exerting partial control over the powers of the prime minister.

The United States does not seem totally opposed to the option of backing to Sadr, as long as he is able to curtail the domination of the Popular Mobilisation Forces over the state, or confront Kadhimi’s reluctance to thwart the PMF’s daily challenge to the authorities in line with the Iranian policy of targeting US forces in Iraq with “light” strikes that do not provoke President Joe Biden’s administration and push it to a tough response against Iran or its militias.

Sadr often tries to suggest that he is outside the Iranian orbit in Iraq and that he deals with Tehran as an equal.

He stresses also that his late father, Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, saw himself as an Arab standing up to Iran’s hegemony over the supreme Shia authority of Iraq and whoever assumed it.

With the elections approaching, Nuri al-Maliki, who heads the State of Law coalition, is seeking to flirt with Sadr and bring him into the fold of Iran’s allies, minimising his differences with the populist leader.

Maliki said, “my hand is extended to whomever wants to reconcile with me, and I do not want disputes, and I do not want the continuation of the dispute, neither with Muqtada al-Sadr nor with anyone else,” denying “the existence of mediation for reconciliation with Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr.”

Iraqi observers believe that Sadr may achieve good results in the upcoming elections by billing himself a “moderate” and keeping his distance from Iran. But he will nevertheless remain part of the “Tehran system” which controls the Iraqi scene and uses it regionally for its own purposes.

Iraqi political analyst and writer Mustafa Kamel, believes, “Sadr is Iran’s most dangerous agent in Iraq (…) and the role assigned to him is limited to reshuffling cards and providing a lifeline to the political system, and this is the secret of his fluctuating positions and wavering between right and left.”

Talking to The Arab Weekly, Kamel added that Sadr might win the elections “not because he enjoys support among the Iraqis, as he is widely rejected by them,  but because overt and covert bargaining, influence-peddling and foreign interferences might push him to the fore”.

He pointed out that, during the past few years, Arab efforts have been devoted to polishing Sadr’s image but he has failed to play a national leadership role as he quickly reverted to his usual sectarian and chaotic course.

Maliki offers to reconcile with the Antichrist ahead of elections

Maliki offers to reconcile with Sadr ahead of elections

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has offered reconciliation with influential Shiite cleric and political leader Muqtada al-Sadr, hinting about his hopes of returning to power again.

Speaking to al-Shariqyah TV on Thursday, Maliki said that he is ready to reconcile with Sadr.

“My hand is open to everyone who wants to reconcile with me. I do not want rivalries, and I do not want disputes to continue, neither with Muqtada al-Sadr nor with anyone else,” said the current leader of the State of Law coalition.

Sadr leads the Sairoon coalition, the largest bloc in the Iraqi parliament, which has recently began speaking explicitly about its desire to head the next government.

The Shiite cleric is Maliki’s most prominent opponent. Maliki also faces resistance from Iraq’s Shiite religious figures, led by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who supported his removal from power in 2014.

Maliki confirmed that the Will movement, led by former MP Hanan al-Fatlaw, will ally with the State of Law in the upcoming elections, but he is “afraid” of international supervision on the upcoming elections.

Parliamentary elections in 2014 toppled Maliki after two successive terms in office. He has been widely criticized for his response to the rise of ISIS, and its occupation of Mosul.  

There is a history of disputes between Maliki and Sadr, the most recent of which took place in February. 

The bickering began with statements by Maliki, in which he said that he would not allow “the Batta [duck] to frighten people again.”

Batta is an Iraqi nickname for vehicles used by the Sadr-affiliated militia Mahdi Army to kidnap and murder people during sectarian violence in 2006 and 2007. 

A close associate of Sadr, Salih Muhammad al-Iraqi, responded, saying :”the Batta is the only solution to the corrupt, and to those who sold Iraq to ISIS,” referring to Maliki.

Iraq had initially planned to hold early elections on June 6. However, in January, Iraq’s council of ministers decided to postpone the elections to October 10.

Antichrist’s representative survives assassination attempt in Baghdad

Sadr representative survives assassination attempt in Baghdad

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Hazem al-Araji, the representative of firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, survived an assassination attempt in Baghdad on Friday, his secretary has told Rudaw.

Ali al-Obeidi said that the incident took place at 5:30pm, in a ceremony commemorating killed members of a Sadr-led militia in al-Shuala district, eastern Baghdad.

“Armed men in two BMWs opened fire near Araji and hit a member of his personal bodyguard, which led to an exchange of fire between Araji’s bodyguards and the militants,” Obeidi said.

He believes political parties are behind the attempted murder, but would not name them. 

In February, Araji was assigned by Sadr to represent “the administration of Basra Governorate” which has seen significant bloodshed since the protest movement began in 2019. 

Hundreds of protesters have been killed and kidnapped by security forces and Iran-backed militias since October 2019. 

The ceremony was commemorating members of the “Mahdi Army,” created in 2003 by Sadr in a response to US invasion at a time. The  Madhi militia was involved in acts of violence and killing of civilians that led to Sadr’s decision to freeze its activities in 2007. However, in February 2020, Sadr said that “defrosting” the Mahdi Army and returning it to the forefront only needs “a matchstick”.

Sadr has been a vocal supporter of reform and anti-corruption campaigns for years. When anti-government protests broke out in October 2019, he sent members of his Saraya al-Salam militia to protect the demonstrators. However, Sadr changed his position and by February 2020, his militias were involved in suppression of the protests. 

Renewed demonstrations in Nasiriyah as violence escalates from Antichrist’s men

Renewed demonstrations in Nasiriyah as violence escalates against protesters

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Protests renewed in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah on Sunday after an explosive device detonated at a Saturday memorial ceremony to commemorate those killed in Iraq’s protest movement, an activist has confirmed to Rudaw English.

Three people were injured at an explosion at the Tishreen martyrs ceremony, activist Muhammad al-Khayyat told Rudaw English on Sunday. One is in a critical condition.

Video shared to social media showed a group of protesters erecting tents in the city’s central al-Habboubi Square on Sunday in preparation for an open sit-in demanding authorities reveal those behind the killing of protesters and calling on the government to protect activists from threats, kidnappings, assassinations.

At least 600 people have been killed across Iraq and more than 18,000 injured since the protests began, according to figures released by Amnesty International last year.

In November 2020, protesters in Habboubi Square were forced out of their tents and shot at by supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, leaving seven people dead and scores wounded. Protesters moved back into the square a week later and vowed to continue protesting.

In February, bloody clashes left several dead and wounded in the city.

RELATED: Protesters gather across Iraqi cities in support of Nasiriyah demonstrators

“We closed a number of official departments in the governorate, in addition to main roads in preparation for the open sit-in,” Khayyat said.

Protests said they reject Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s decision to appoint Abdul Ghani al-Asadi as the Dhi Qar governor after Nathim al-Waeli stepped down following bloody protests calling for his dismissal.

Local government officials in other provinces have also come under fire, accused of involvement in the kidnap of activists.

Haidar al-Khashan, who was kidnapped and held for several hours early Thursday by unknown gunmen, accused agencies affiliated to the Governor of Muthanna of kidnapping and threatening him on Sunday.

“Four people got out of a government Land Cruiser, kidnapped me in front of my mother, handcuffed me and put a bag on my head before taking me to an unknown place and interrogating me for an hour and a half,” Kashan said told Rudaw English on Sunday.

The people who interrogated Khashan said they were from Samawah, and threatened to kill him if he went to demonstrations against Governor Ahmed Manfi, according to Khashan.

“Today we kidnapped you and we will release you, but tomorrow we will finish you by placing a bullet in your head,” Khashan quoted the kidnappers as saying.

“What hurt me the most when I was kidnapped was my mother; she is still in shock,” Kashan said.

“I fear for my life now, I cannot go out alone at night, and I make sure to go out with my friends during the day,” he added.

A day after the incident Kashan was back on the streets, leading a large demonstration in the city of Samawah on Friday.

“We will not be afraid of such threats, and we will not back down,” he said, pledging to continue protesting until the local government is removed from power.

Antichrist: PM Al Kadhimi’s visit to Saudi Arabia will bring Iraq ‘out of isolation’

Sadr: PM Al Kadhimi’s visit to Saudi Arabia will bring Iraq ‘out of isolation’

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi performs Umrah at the Grand Mosque complex in the holy city of Makkah on April 1, 2021. Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi’s trip to Saudi Arabia will allow the country to restore ties with its Arab counterparts, influential Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr said on Thursday.

After former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Saudi Arabia, along with many countries in the region and the wider world, severed ties with Iraq.

Baghdad has been working to restore regional ties since the US-led invasion of 2003.

“I’m looking at my brother Al Kadhimi’s visit to Saudi Arabia with eyes of hope,” Mr Al Sadr said on Twitter.

Mr Al Sadr commands a large following among the urban poor of Baghdad and southern cities and was once the leader of a powerful militia who fought against American forces stationed in Iraq.

Iraq lies on the fault line between the Shiite Muslim power Iran and the Sunni-ruled countries that are Tehran’s regional rivals, among them Saudi Arabia.

“It is a door that takes Iraq out of isolation from its historical Arab environment, hoping that it will be a visit of friendship and partnership in various fields and an end to conflicts and crises,” he said.

Mr Al Sadr made a rare visit to Saudi Arabia in 2017, where he met Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other officials.

It was seen by experts and officials as a significant development for regional stability and countering Iran’s expansionism in the region.

Since 2003, successive US administrations have pushed for more Saudi engagement with the new Iraqi government, which Baghdad embraced by maintaining good ties with Riyadh and Tehran.

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iraq have improved since Riyadh reopened its embassy in Baghdad in late 2015.

The kingdom has taken a more proactive role in regional policy, building stronger ties with Iraqi leaders has become a priority to limit Iran’s influence in the country, where it has ties to Shiite groups that have dominated Iraqi politics since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Mr Al Sadr rose to prominence as a firebrand who led militias against US troops in Iraq who were seen as backed by Iran, but his ties to Tehran have been ambiguous.

Mr Al Kadhimi’s first trip abroad as leader last year was to Iran, shortly after he visited the US.

He was scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia in his first foreign trip as prime minister last July, but the visit was cancelled at the last minute when King Salman had an operation to remove a gall bladder.

The Iraqi leader began his visit to the kingdom on Wednesday where he was received at Riyadh’s international airport by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Iraq and Saudi Arabia agreed to set up a $3bn fund to boost the private sector in Iraq.

Updated: April 1, 2021 05:04 PM

Antichrist’s commander killed in clash with ISIS

PMF commander killed in clash with ISIS

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ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — A commander of the state-sponsored Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF, Hashd al-Shaabi in Arabic) was killed in a clash with Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Iraq’s Salahaddin province, the PMF said on Monday.

Hassan Muhammad al-Asadi, commander of a regiment in Brigade 314, and a fighter from Brigade 315 were killed on Monday during clashes with ISIS militants southwest of Samarra, the PMF said in a statement shared on its official Telegram channels.

Brigades 314 and 315 belong to Saraya al-Salam, a militia linked to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

ISIS has attacked PMF forces several times this year – particularly in territories disputed by Erbil and Baghdad, where ISIS sleeper cells thrive.

On February 28, six members of Iraq’s state-sponsored Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF, Hashd al-Shaabi in Arabic) were killed and two others wounded in a car explosion in Anbar province, western Iraq.

On February 2, five members of the PMF were killed in a clash with ISIS militants in Diyala, according to state media and the PMF. At least 11 fighters from the PMF were killed in an ambush by ISIS in Salahaddin on January 24.

ISIS claimed in its weekly propaganda newspaper al-Naba, last published on Thursday, that it had conducted 17 operations in Iraq from March 17 to 23, killing and injuring 31 people, including PMF fighters.

The PMF took part of the territorial defeat of ISIS in Iraq in late 2017, but it’s role in Iraq has increasingly been called into question.

PMF units close to Iran are widely accused of abducting and killing opponents, and are believed to be responsible for some of the deadly rocket attacks targeting US and coalition personnel stationed at bases across Iraq.

Antichrist Returns Property to Iraqi Christians

Committee of Christian Property Expropriations Makes Headway

03/28/2021 Iraq (International Christian Concern) –  A recently formed Iraqi parliament committee has returned at least 50 houses and other properties to their rightful Christian owners. The committee was formed in January by a prominent Shia leader, Muqtada al-Sadr, to explore the complaints from Christians regarding illegal property expropriations.

Iraq’s Chaldean patriarch, Cardinal Sako, expressed commendation for the work that has already been done and suggested that it would encourage Christians to return home to Iraq. Some also linked the progress of the committee in part to the Pope’s visit earlier in March. Christians are hesitant to return to Iraq for many reasons, one of which being the loss of property that began in 2003 and the fall of Saddam Hussein. Legalized theft of Christian property turns a blind eye to those seizing homes, land and other belongings, despite the fact that many Christians still retained their legal paperwork to their homes.

Only around one-fifth of Christians remain in Iraq after the conflicts and economic hardship the country has faced.

Antichrist offers his own men help to disarm other militias in Iraq

Sadr offers his own militias’ help to disarm other militias in Iraq

BAGHDAD–Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr is increasingly wanting to appear as a statesman while his political ambitions to hold the reins of the executive authority in the country are growing.

Earlier in February, the populist Shia cleric said he backed early elections overseen by the UN, in a rare news conference outside his home in the Iraqi shrine city of Najaf.

Iraq is meant to hold earlier parliamentary elections this year, a central demand of an anti-government protest movement which erupted in 2019 and involved Sadr’s supporters.

The elections will be taking place under a new electoral law that has reduced the size of constituencies and eliminated list-based voting in favour of votes for individual candidates.

Sadr’s supporters are expected to make major gains under the new system.

In November, Sadr said he would push for the next prime minister to be a member of his movement for the first time.

With eyes on the executive authority, the Shia cleric has been calling recently for control of the weapons’ chaos in the country so as to curb attacks by armed factions on foreign forces, their supply convoys and the headquarters of the US embassy in Baghdad.

Sadr’s calls come even though the Shia cleric himself is at the head of the most powerful militias in Iraq, the Peace Brigades, which are seen as a heir to the Mahdi Army militia that had previously led an offensive against government forces under the rule of former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Sadr had also been involved in a crackdown on a massive uprising that took place in the cities of central and southern Iraq starting from October 2019. In that period, he employed a militia called Blue Hats to confront demonstrators in the streets and sit-in squares, as part of his efforts to crush the protest movement and protect the regime.

In recent statements, the leader of the Sadrist movement offered to help the government of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi  end the spread of illegal weapons in the country.

“The Iraqi government must work diligently and firmly against all armed actions that target the security of Iraq and its citizens, regardless of the affiliation of the perpetrators,” Sadr said, adding, “I am aware that they (the militants who launch attacks) are recruited to destabilise security, threaten stability and weaken the state with the aim of discrediting the honourable reputation of the government for the benefit of those who carry foreign agendas.”

The majority of these militias have links with Iran and have been helping pursue Teheran’s agenda, which is to expand the Islamic Republic’s influence in Iraq and the region.

Most of the Iraqi Shia militias that were trained to fight ISIS in 2014 are with the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), formally affiliated with the Iraqi armed forces. Some PMF factions, however, respond only to the orders of leaders who are close to Iran.

In his recent statements, Sadr stressed that “the security chaos and the spread of weapons should not last,” calling on the government to “double its efforts” and offering his services when saying, “We are ready for cooperation.”

Sadr is known for his extreme self-confidence, at times acting as a holder of absolute power by issuing orders, warnings and setting deadlines for his demands to be fulfilled. This is fundamentally contrary to the logic of thegovernment’s control that he has been preaching with his call for ending chaos in the country and halting the spread of weapons.

Since 2003, Sadr has been part of the political process in Iraq. He didn’t, however, hold any official positions like his major opponents and rivals from within the Shia political family.

In recent years, the Shia cleric, who hails from a prominent religious family in Iraq, has sought to distance himself from the bad governance that led to massive popular protests against the ruling class.

He portrayed himself as being different from other leaders of Shia parties and militias, and sought to act as a spokesman for the people, a defender of their cause, a reformer and an enemy of corruption.

Sadr, in fact, sees the failure of his political rivals as an opportunity to control the executive , especially in the light of new international and regional dynamics that may redraw the political map in Iraq.

After 18 years of mostly Shia rule in Iraq, the security situation in the country is still a serious problem affecting all aspects of life.

The Shia militias, who had obtained weapons and financial resources to help fight the Islamic State (ISIS) group, constitute today’s the biggest challenge to peace and security in the country, according to experts.

Washington accuses armed Iraqi factions linked to Iran, including Kata’ib Hezbollah, of being behind a number of attacks targeting its embassy and military bases, from which American soldiers are sometimes deployed in the country.

Kata’ib Hezbollah, whose leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was assassinated in January by the US military while he was with Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani near Baghdad airport, is considered one of the factions with the closest ties toTehran.

Iraqi politicians and activists from the protest movement accuse militias loyal to Iran of kidnapping and torturing protesters, placing them in secret prisons and shooting demonstrators.

Kadhimi promised to hold the killers of demonstrators accountable and made surprise visits to numerous prisons to find out whether they included detainees from the protest movement.

Last July, the Iraqi judiciary announced the formation of an investigative body to look into assassination crimes, hours after an expert on armed groups, Hisham Hashemi, was assassinated.

Antichrist’s Men will stop attacks on US targets if Iraq demands full withdrawal

Iran-backed groups will stop attacks on US targets if Iraq demands full withdrawal, report says

September 27, 2020

US soldiers in Kirkuk, Iraq on 29 March 2020 [Murtadha Al-Sudani/Anadolu Agency]

March 12, 2021 at 12:46 pm

Iranian-backed Iraqi paramilitary groups have agreed to stop attacking US targets if Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Khadimi formally demands the full withdrawal of American forces, Middle East Eye (MEE) reports.

The de-escalation agreement is conditional on Al-Khadimi demanding the complete withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, to be completed within 12 months.

The Iraqi PM must send a letter to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) requesting the US-led coalition’s mission in Iraq come to an end, according to the agreement.

Sources cited by the English-language site said they expected the Iraqi prime minister to comply with the agreement.

It was reportedly brokered after meetings in Baghdad, Beirut and Tehran, between the Iraqi government and a group of commanders known as the Coordinating Committee for the Resistance Factions.

Talks to achieve an agreement were mediated by Iranian and Lebanese parties, as well as an international organisation operating in Iraq.

One of the Iraqi negotiators confirmed to MEE that all the parties had agreed to the de-escalation and that attacks which break the agreement would be “a personal act” and that the culprit would be “considered outside the consensus”.

READ: Iraq’s Muqtada Al-Sadr supports PM call for national dialogue

A previous de-escalation agreement was brokered in October and largely held, despite a few violations, until armed factions announced it had ended on 1 March.

Earlier this month, back and forth attacks between US forces and paramilitaries led to a raid on Ain Al-Assad military base, which houses US-led coalition troops.

A series of ten rockets from a launcher five miles away hit the air base in western Iraq at 7:20am local time on 3 March.

A US contractor later died after suffering a heart attack during the raid, the Pentagon announced the next day.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has responded strongly to the rocket attack, saying the US will do what it sees as necessary to defend its interests.

He said: “We’ll strike if that’s what we think we need to do, at a time and place of our own choosing. We demand the right to protect our troops.”

He called on the Iraqi military to investigate the incident and determine who was responsible.

“We would hope that they would choose to do the right things,” he said.