Currently Iran is facing serious problems in Syria as no one is willing to fight for Assad and Tehran is forced to dispatch its own Revolutionary Guards and militias to take on the Free Syrian Army.
As far as the atmosphere inside Iran is concerned, Iranian youths are not willing to go to Syria and fight for Assad, and the regime is now forced to send its senior IRGC commanders to the Levant. As witnessed in recent months over 60 such IRGC commanders have been killed in Syria.
The following are a number of such examples:
1. Following the halt ordered on militia groups staging attacks in Baiji of Salahaddin Province in Iraq, and Iran running short on boots on the ground in Syria, various units of these militia groups were ordered by the Quds Force and dispatched to Syria in late October. A number of these militia groups stationed in Baiji began departing the city and stationing around the Baghdad beltway and city entrances in order to plunder people’s assets. Kidnapping and arresting ordinary civilians is one method of how these militia groups in Baghdad and the beltway are making their incomes and armed Asaeb and Katayeb militia have been seen roaming freely across the Iraqi capital. Maliki, pursuing his plots against the government and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi himself, has been involved in negotiations with militia leaders aimed at hindering the government’s measures and paving the path for setting al-Abadi aside.
2. In mid-October of this year Abu Mahdi al-Mohandess, deputy commander of the Iran-Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), sent a letter to al-Abadi calling for a joint command center involving the PMF to supervise the distribution of the assets, arms and ammunition. Al-Mohandess in his letter called for an increase in the PMF’s budget and requested from al-Abadi to hand over armored personnel carriers, HUMVEEs and other weapons and military equipment currently at the Army’s disposal to the PMF. This request came at a time when Iran is known to transfer PMF weaponry, including assault rifles, various types of rockets and missiles, and logistical equipment from Iraq to Syria. Despite all this, 9th Badr Corps commander Hadi al-Ameri and al-Mohandess, along with other militia commanders, are in coordination with Maliki plotting against al-Abadi.
3. On November 4th Maliki personal paid a visit to the Asaeb political office and met with the group leader Gheis al-Khazali. In this meeting Maliki told al-Khazali that the current political trend is an American-style campaign represented by al-Abadi. Therefore, this process must be transformed into a trend in which militia groups play the leading role.
4. Maliki also held meetings with Akram al-Ka’bi and other militia group leaders including those of the Katayeb, Badr and the so-called Jihad & Construction movement led by Hassan al-Sari. These talks focused on the new political trend inside Iraq. Militia leaders in their meetings with Maliki have outlined various commitments and obligations for Maliki, yet to this day none have been implemented.
5. A senior official in the Dawa Party has informed Maliki that Iran’s policy is focused on backing Maliki and the militias in order to shift the current political trend in favor of Tehran. However, in practice Tehran is refraining from directly hindering al-Abadi’s measures and that of his government. Therefore, Iran is heavily counting on Maliki and the militia groups.
6. In early November a member of Maliki’s inner circle in the Dawa Party said Maliki has invested heavily in the PMD as Iran fully supports this entity. To this end Maliki formed a PMD-like force and installed one of his most loyal elements as its commander. Currently Maliki is seeking the budget and adequate logistics for this force. On the issue of how this unit will be used in action Maliki is scheduled to have a trip to Tehran before the 2016.
7. Following its series of defeats in its efforts of pushing the Free Syrian Army out of Aleppo, the Quds Force decided to dispatch a number of its associated groups to Syria. In this regard in mid-October the Quds Force sent a considerable number of Asaeb and Katayeb militia units to receive training in Iran. Katayeb militants were directly sent to Syria after finalizing their training tours in Iran, while Asaeb units returned to Iran and they are scheduled to be dispatched to Syrian in mid-December.
8. Due to the high number of casualties suffered by the IRGC in Syria and the importance of this force for Iran in gaining full control over Aleppo, a member of the Asaeb political bureau was dispatched to Syria in early November along with a number of Asaeb, al-Nijba and Katayeb Imam Ali members.
9. The high presence of militia groups in checkpoints across Baghdad has allowed these militia groups to roam freely through checkpoints in the Iraqi capital and the beltway, along with taking full control over specific areas. The latter is aimed at kidnapping and plundering locals’ property. Katayeb and Asaeb militants are facilitating the passage of armed convoys of PMD and other militia groups in Baghdad.
10. Following in line with American and British newspapers, Italian newspapers have also covered the violations committed by militia groups in Iraq. Mainfest daily on November 23rd published a peace warning that these groups are acting outside of the government’s control and behind enormous corruption across the country. Their influence is far beyond the central government of Baghdad, leaving the government unable to control the chaos and sectarian violence caused by these Iran-backed groups in the country’s capital. This Italian daily also warned that these militia groups have the necessary personnel, arms and money. These groups are in practice plotting to gain more influence into the country’s military apparatus to finally replace the Iraqi Army.