Analysis |

Iran-backed militias undermine Iraq's sovereignty: analysts

By Faris Omran

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Iran-backed Iraqi militias are seen taking part in combat training in this photo, disseminated by the Imam Ali Brigades on October 11th, 2018.

Iran-backed militias operating in Iraq, including Kataeb Hizbullah (Hizbullah Brigades) and the Badr Brigades, are actively undermining Iraq's sovereignty, Iraqi analysts told Diyaruna.

These armed factions follow the directives of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), they said, and operate with complete disregard for Iraqi law.

Though they took part in the recent battle against the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS), Kataeb Hizbullah and other Iran-backed militias "never showed allegiance to the Iraqi state", strategy expert Alaa al-Nashou told Diyaruna.

These militias follow the orders of IRGC Quds Force commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani and show "complete disregard for Iraqi laws", he said.

"Since their emergence, [Iran-backed] brigades and militias have never been under the control of the Iraqi state, and have done everything to undermine Iraqi sovereignty," he said.

These militias also are fighting in the Syrian war, but not under the auspices of the Iraqi government, he added, which constitutes a "massive transgression" of Iraqi sovereignty.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, there have been numerous documented instances of violations committed by Iran-backed militias operating as part of the Popular Mobilisation Forces, he said.

Targeting Iraqis under false pretexts

A number of reports have emerged that show these forces have been targeting Iraq's Sunni population under the pretext that they are supporting ISIS, al-Nashou said, pointing out that this "is mere lies and deception".

In a June 9th, 2016 report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), for example, eyewitnesses confirmed that Kataeb Hizbullah and the Badr Brigades had rounded up about 1,700 civilians from al-Saqlawiyah, near Fallujah.

The civilians were taken to a detention centre and tortured, with some dying as a result, HRW said.

Around 600 men and boys who were later released showed signs of rape, burns, knife wounds and marks as a result of being beaten, bound or dragged by cars, the report said.

The ultimate goal of these militias is not to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria but to "destabilise Iraq and the region" and keep Iraq under the sway of Iran, strategic and military analyst Rabie al-Jawary told Diyaruna.

"These Iran-backed gangs, which are listed as terrorist groups, are trying to take advantage of any opportunity to bypass the law and take control by force," al-Jawary said.

"However, with the latest demonstrations in Basra and the southern provinces, Iraqis have chanted slogans that clearly reject Iranian intervention," he noted.

Protesters burned the offices of Kataeb Hizbullah and affiliated factions in Basra and Najaf in a show of anger and resentment of Iranian dominance, he said.

"People are fed up with the influence of these militias, that have brought nothing but destruction and harm," al-Jawary said. "The demonstrations and objections carried a clear message for the Iranians to stop their intervention."

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