Sunday, 19 July 2015

Quds Force plot to form Iraqi Revolutionary Guards

From long ago due to the degrading position of former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki and continuing uprisings in this country that led to numerous defeats for Maliki’s army, Iran’s Quds Force has been plotting to form a proxy militant force similar to the Revolutionary Guards and Bassij forces inside Iran. 

The Quds Force has to this day pursued this plan by using militant groups such as Asayeb al-Haq, Katayeb Hezbollah and the 9th Badr Corps. To this end the plot to establish the Iraqi Revolutionary Guards with a lesser number of units was placed high on Quds Force’s agenda. Salar Abnush, commander of the Revolutionary Guards forces in Iran’s Ghazvin Province, in a speech back in May 2014 shed some light on the formation of the Iraqi Revolutionary Guards. “We are currently witnessing the fact that the Revolutionary Guards has formed units in other nations, and they are playing important roles in their respective countries. This includes the Iraqi Revolutionary Guards that is playing a major role in this country,” he said.
Iran’s plot was for this militant group to be official like other organizations and military units. Like Iran’s own Revolutionary Guards, Tehran wanted this unit to be existent in Iraq. Quds Force commanders recalled the formation of the ‘State Defence’ force in Syria, to help Assad’s military units, as a positive example in order to confront the Free Syrian Army rebels. The Quds Force also attempted to establish such a force in Iraq and have all the ranks and files organized by Quds Force-associated militants.

Training for militants in Iraq
Dispatching militants to Iran to receive training, in addition to being very expensive for Iran, was very time consuming. Therefore, by dispatching a number of its commanders to Iraq and establishing training centers Tehran began carrying some more serious measures to form the Iraqi Revolutionary Guards. By raising the issue of sectarian warfare to maintain Shiite dominance in Iraq, Tehran began focusing on registering Shiite volunteers and used this opportunity to materialize its idea to form the Revolutionary Guards in Iraq by using militants and other volunteers. Therefore, by using local resources the Quds Force began training Shiite volunteers and militants. The following depicts a large portion of this plan:
1. The Quds Force used a training base in Karbala’s Ibrahimiya district and carried out numerous courses for volunteer recruits. A number of local Quds Force members and other trustworthy militants were used as instructors in this facility. Those who received training in this facility first numbered at around 250 and they were mainly dispatched from Diyala Province to this centre. All these people receive very special training.
2. Quds Force provided training for another portion of these forces in Diyala Province. For some time after Qassem Suleimani visited this province a five-man Quds Force team of commanders stationed in the 9th Badr office in the town of Khalis to supervise and pursue the training. Two members of this team are from the Lebanese Hezbollah. After receiving preliminary training the volunteer forces were sent to the Quds Force training centre in Karbala’s Ibrahimiya district.
3. The Quds Force used Asaeb militants to provide training for the volunteers. A number of volunteers received their training from Asaeb militants in Khalis under the supervision of the Quds Force.
4. Iraqi Katayeb Hezbollah used the Khalis Youths Center building in Khalis to train volunteers, and this training was always under Quds Force supervision.
5. A number of the volunteers, used by the Badr and Asaeb militants were transferred to the Khalis sports center to receive training, and undergo tactic training courses lasting for a few days. Although the training center in Diyala Province was located in Khalis, other parts of this training were provided in other areas, such as the town of Sa’diye and Jizani.
6. Following the official formation of the Popular Mobilization Force, the Quds Force summoned a large number of former Badr commanders from Iraq’s southern province to Baghdad in mid-June 2014. All these commanders received promotions in ranks and placed in command posts. These commanders went through specific and very tightly scheduled training in the main Badr base in Baghdad’s Jaderiya district under the supervision of Quds Force commanders. The responsibility of a portion of these voluntary forces from various provinces including Karbala, Najaf and Babel was placed under their watch.
7. In line with establishing the Iraqi Revolutionary Guards, Qassem Suleimani – in coordination with Badr militant commander Hadi al-Ameri and Asaeb militant commander Gheis al-Khaz’ali – ordered the recruiting of a large number of militants from these groups and sent for special militant training to Karbala’s Ibrahimiya district.
8. Quds Force elements in Karbala launched a second facility in this city to train these new militants, located in the Tal Zeinabiye district. This location was especially designed to train those lacking any military training at all and those who had not received any training even in small arms.
9. The Quds Force specifies training courses, the types of training and the location of this training based on the status of the individuals. For example, a number of recruits close to the Katayeb Hezbollah, Katayeb Seyed al-Shohada and Asaeb groups were sent to the al-Mothana airport and Fort Taji for training. Al-Mothana was a facility used by Asaeb militants in Baghdad and a number of Quds Force experts and training officers were supervising the courses provided in this facility.

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