EIFA statement on the eve of Arab-Islamic-American Conference in Riyadh
Call for practical and decisive action to end the Iranian regime's domination in Iraq, as the mullahs' most important base for threats to regional and global security
Confronting the Iranian regime's terrorism and its destructive meddling in the region is among the most important topics to be discussed in the summit in Riyadh. Through their warmongering, expansion of sectarianism, support of armed militias and their fostering of terrorism, the mullahs ruling Iran have become the main challenge against security and stability in the region.
Iraq, which used to be the foremost barrier against the Iranian regime prior to the invasion in 2003, has now become the most important base for it’s support for the Assad regime in Syria and for threatening other countries in the region. Parties and militias linked to the mullahs now dominate the Iraqi government and all its military and security agencies. President Trump has reiterated that the military attack on Iraq in 2003 as well as the irresponsible departure of US forces from that country in 2009 by the Obama administration was a mistake that has led to the Iranian regime's ascendancy in Iraq.
In Riyadh, it is important that all efforts are not solely concentrated on combating ISIS. The total eviction of the Iranian regime and its proxies from Iraq must be a key item on the Riyadh agenda. If not, the Iranian regime will continue to be the winner and Iraq will move towards disintegration and internal war and will turn into the main center of instability and terrorism in the region.
The Iranian regime is pursuing a shrewd post-ISIS plan. With the formation of the militant Shi’ite Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary force and its recognition as a legal entity in the Iraqi parliament, it has created its fighting arm and by strengthening the former venally corrupt and sectarian Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his affiliated parties, it has laid the groundwork for hi-jacking next year’s Iraqi elections.
Iraj Masjedi, senior deputy to the brutal Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commander General Qasem Soleimani, was recently appointed as the regime's ambassador to Iraq and is in charge of pursuing this plan. In addition, the Badr organization, which was set up by Iran's IRGC, has effectively taken control of Iraq's interior ministry and hundreds of thousands of its personnel. Qasim al-Aaraji, Iraq's Interior Minister, is the head of the Badr faction and a very close ally of Qasem Soleimani. All Iraq's security organs are in the hands of the Shi’ia Dawa party or other parties linked to the Iranian regime. Many of the areas liberated from ISIS are now under the control of militias associated with the IRGC who have prevented hundreds of thousands of displaced people from returning to their homes.
Evidence of the repressive brutality of the Shi’ia militias is overwhelming:
- Dr. Ayad Allawi - Iraq’s Vice President - revealed at a press conference in Iraq's Babil province that the Iranian regime is preventing the return of displaced people of Jurf al-Sakhr to their home town. (Al-Jazeera, May 3).
- Muhamed al-Karbouli – an Iraqi MP from al-Anbar province - accused Shi’ia militias of Iraqi Kata'eb Hezbollah, as part of Hashd al-Shaabi, of kidnapping 2,900 inhabitants of al-Anbar, Diyala and Babil provinces and imprisoning them in secret prisons. (Middle East Online, 12 May 2017)
- Al-Arab daily wrote on May 15: "The reason that abduction crimes are not prosecuted in Iraq is because the same parties in charge of abductions are in charge of Iraq’s security and these same Iraqis control the Shi’ite parties that run the powerful militias and they control the key Ministries, in particular the Interior Ministry and it is these militias that are both involved in carrying out the abductions and prosecuting the culprits.”
- Abu Mehdi al-Mohandes, the commander of Hashd al-Shaabi, emphasized publicly on Iran-associated Ofoq TV that he is a soldier of Qasem Soleimani and executes the orders of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Iranian regime's supreme leader.
- Qais al-Khazali, the leader of the Asaeb militias that are part of Iraq's Hashd al-Shaabi, claimed that the militias under his command, including Iran's IRGC, the Houthi militias in Yemen, Lebanese Hezbollah and Hashd al-Shaabi in Iraq will constitute the forces which he called ‘Shi’ite Badr’. He said Iraq's next prime minister must be from Hashd al-Shaabi (Al-Arabiya, May 11).
- By forming these Shi’ia parties, Hashd al-Shaabi and the militias linked to the Iranian regime have the intention of seizing control of the Iraqi government. The Iraqi Electoral Commission is under the control of Nouri al-Maliki and other pro-Iranian factions, which is why widespread demonstrations, which took place on 12 Februrary 2017, demanded the replacement of the Electoral Commission.
- The Iranian Foreign Affairs Ministry wrote on 1 May 2017 that its “current plan is to focus on obtaining and maintaining a predominant position in Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria.… These pathways would traverse from Iran’s western borders through the Euphrates and Tigris valleys and the vast expanses of desert in Iraq and Syria, providing a link to Hezbollah in Lebanon, and finally ending at the edge of the Golan Heights. The two corridors would serve as chains to move military supplies or militiamen when needed.” The idea, according to several senior Iranian officials, would be to outsource the supervision of the corridors to proxy forces, such as Hezbollah and the various Shi’ite militias Iran sponsors in Iraq and Syria, in order to avoid using its own military forces to control the routes. (Iran has a long-standing aversion toward investing manpower abroad.) Tehran’s proxy militias would be able to field a force numbering 150,000 to 200,000 fighters, including 18,000 Afghani Shi’ites, 3,000 to 4,000 Pakistani Shi’ites and small Christian and Druze militias.
- Asharq al-Awsat wrote on May 1st: “Dozens of Quds Force (the extra-territorial wing of the IRGC) affiliated military and political bases have been formed west of Mosul, under the guise of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) militia forces. Iran is attempting to establish a ground route through Mosul to Syria to provide the Assad regime and the Lebanese Hezbollah with weapons, ammunition and reinforcements, experts say.”
Obama in 2011 described al-Maliki as the leader of a democratic state. However, he was in fact Iran’s number one man in Iraq, who during his eight years in office engulfed the country in corruption and crimes against humanity, plunging Iraq into civil war. He held onto office for a second term only as a result of an agreement reached between Obama and Khamenei. With the support he enjoyed from Iran and the blind obeisance of the Obama administration, Maliki launched a massive crackdown against widespread popular protests in Iraq in April 2013, as the Iraqi masses demanded an end to corruption and the restoration of civil rights. The subsequent oppression and mass slaughter Maliki launched against peaceful demonstrations in the mainly Sunni Iraqi provinces allowed Daesh to invade the country successfully from Syria and to seize control of over one third of Iraq’s territory.
Currently, pro-Iran parties are preventing any reforms in Iraq. For example, the current Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi belongs to the al-Dawa Party, with a majority of its senior elite linked to Iran. He has failed to implement his pledges of reform, including his reform agenda based on which he received a confidence vote from the Iraqi Parliament back in September 2014. He also was unable to execute his reform initiative in August 2015 and failed to establish a promised cabinet of technocrats to replace his widely reviled and corrupt ministers.
Currently, the Riyadh and the Arabic-Islamic-American conference are fully aware of the dangers and consequences of previous mistakes in Iraq. To this end, expectations are high for firm practical measures to be placed on the agenda to uproot Iran’s influence in Iraq and across the region and to dismantle its swathe of Shi’ite militias. The mullahs’ Revolutionary Guards, being the main Iranian asset in the export of terrorism and insecurity across the region, should be designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United Nations, United States, Europe and Middle Eastern states. Furthermore, new strategies must be implemented for the war against Daesh, uprooting Iran’s influence and rebuilding Iraq.
Focus must particularly be placed on establishing a balanced political state, far from Iran’s dominance, otherwise, Iraq after the fall of Daesh, will be a cradle for terrorism and a phenomenon far more dangerous than Daesh, namely the Iran-linked militias that will emerge with even more power than before. Such an outcome will demand a far graver price to resolve the dossiers of Syria and Yemen and to continue the struggle against terrorism and insecurity.