On October 25th and 26th Iraqi Shiite militias escalated their tone against America following US special forces attack on an ISIS prison in the al-Hawija area located southwest of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. The question is what motive lies behind such hostile remarks by Quds Force-lined Iraqi Shiite groups against the US?
These groups described the attack by US Delta Force commandos on October 21st as an “aggression against the central government and a violation of the Iraqi sovereignty”. A statement released by Asaeb Ahl al-Haq says the behavior used by the US formally registers the fact that Iraq is now divided. However, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandess, deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Force (PMF), adopted a much stronger stance against the Americans. “We will retaliate. We will expose all your plans and embarrass you.”
All militia groups that spoke against the al-Hawija attack and threatened the US are linked to the Revolutionary Guards Quds Force. Their positions can be considered a reflection of Iran’s standpoint in this regard.
Al-Mohandess is one of the terrorists wanted by the US. He fled to Iran long ago and returned only after US forces departed Iraq. He is currently 2nd in command of the PMF militia groups.
The al-Hawija attack was an all-out US commando operation. The helicopters flying from Erbil carried out their mission under logistical coordination between US and Kurdish forces. The last entity informed of the al-Hawija operation was the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, as its senior officials said they learned about the raid through the media. Prior to this assault those involved in the operation (US and Kurdish forces) had mentioned joint military intelligence of possible executions being carried out in the prison, along with mass graves prepared to bury the bodies. There were also reports of apprehended Kurds held at the facility, which in fact escalated the urgency of the matter and moved up the date of the operation. The Americans are operating in favor of the Iraqi Kurds without informing the central government, raising immense anger amongst militia groups who are now promising American forces much harsher conditions.
In my opinion the reason why US forces did not inform the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, or the entire government for that matter, is quite clear. There are a large number of militia members in this ministry acting as so-called officers, and they could have easily leaked the information and led the entire operation into a complete failure. The US forces are fully aware about this. An article posted in The New York Times on October 24th states more than 70% of Iraqi Interior Ministry officers are linked to the Quds Force and are actually advancing this entity’s policies in this ministry. This article also went on to mention how these militias are now controlling the Iraqi Army 5th Division.
Al-Mohandess goes much farther than just threats. In fact, his group and allied militia forces describe the al-Hawija attack as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty. It is quite significant the fact that these individuals fought alongside Iranian forces against Iraq back in the 1980s. Others have dispatched hundreds and even thousands of armed men to Syria to fight parallel to Bashar Assad’s troops and the Lebanese Hezbollah, fighting under the new framework of outer-boundary sectarianism.
Iraqi militias are using American made weapons, American intelligence, American ammunition and American air cover. However, from day one they have been speaking against all US measures in Iraq. This is a dual-faced game that is more ridiculous than being strange and incomprehensible. However, on the issue of coordinating the operation in advance, there have actually been no remarks made by the Iraqi government, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or the Chairman of the Council of Ministers taking a position specifically saying now such coordination had occurred. Usually, such coordination is carried out with Iraqi Prime Minister Dr. Haider al-Abadi, yet this is denied by the militias. This is why we are witnessing such reactions from the militia groups, and not the Iraqi government, meaning the Foreign Ministry or the Prime Ministry Office. In Iraq, there are actually two governments working in parallel. Therefore, one can say that these militia units are linked to Iran, not Iraq, and are pursuing the policies and orders issued by the Quds Force in Iraq.