Qasem al-Araji is a commander of the Quds Force installed in the Iraqi “9th Badr Corps”, and he is currently an Iraqi MP.
Biography and History in Iran
Qasem Mohamedm Jalal al-Araji, aka Abu Kamal Edin al-Araji, under the Iranian name of Qasem al-Araji, was born in the southern Iraqi city of Kut. In April 1988 in Iran he was recruited by the mullahs’ regime and after some time he was employed by the Revolutionary Guards Quds Force and placed into the 1st division of the IRGC Badr Corps.
He receives a monthly salary of 2,125,606 rials ($60) and his legal code is 8301859. His account number in the Iran Sepah Bank was 23955.
Participating in General Elections
In March 2004 al-Araji was elected as a member of the Waset Provincial Council (southern Iraq). In the 2009 general elections he was elected as an MP from the Iraq National Coalition slate, gaining 25,316 votes. He was also appointed as head of the Badr faction in the parliament and a member of the Security & Defense Commission.
In the 2014 general elections he gained 27,310 votes and was against elected as an MP from Waset Province.
Relations with Iran
In February 2014 following the posting of a Khamenei cartoon in the Assabah al-Jadid daily, Shiite militias in Iraq including the Badr, Asaeb al-Haq, Katayeb Hezbollah and Iraqi Hezbollah held a rally in Baghdad’s Ferdows Square. In this gathering al-Araji, a known Quds Force and Iranian regime agent, delivered a speech for the protesters and by supporting Iran and Khamenei he encouraged the protesters to ransack and destroy the daily’s office. He went on to threaten the cartoonist that had drawn the particular Khamenei cartoon.
“Everyone must know that our religious leader in all countries is one, and nothing, including geographic borders and regions cannot separate us or distance them. Any aggression and attack against any religious leader is an aggression and attack to religion and this is our red line,” he said in an interview with Iran’s state-run Fars news agency on this cartoon drawing. Following this blatant threat by al-Araji as the leader of the Badr militias in the parliament, Ahmed al-Rabiie, the cartoon artist of Assabah al-Jadid fled to Erbil Province in northern Iraq. A month later he was murdered in an Erbil hospital.
On February 11th, 2014, the Iranian embassy in Baghdad held a celebration marking Iran’s 1979 revolution. In this ceremony a number of Iraqi elements loyal to the mullahs’ regime and those receiving payments from the Quds Force, including al-Araji, Abbas al-Bayati and Adnan al-Shahmani were participating.
Badr commanders, including al-Araji and Hadi al-Ameri, were seeking the post of the Ministry of Transportation in the Iraqi government. This was Iran’s policy to take advantage of this ministry’s assets and bypass international sanctions through Iraq’s airports and airplanes, and temporarily decrease the sanctions pressures. The Badr Organization’s insistence on attaining the Ministry of Transportation was merely in line with its service to the Iranian regime, knowing the ground borders with Syria were under the control of tribal forces for some time.
Commanding Shiite militias in Diyala and al-Araji’s connection with the IRGC Quds Force
Following the complete disintegration of the Iraqi army on June 10, 2014 and Maliki’s forces retreating from the northern Iraqi provinces of Neinawah and Salahadin, Hadi al-Ameri assumed command of the Diyala front and al-Araji took control of the Shiite militias in this province.
Al-Araji, along with al-Ameri and Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, a senior figure in the Shiite militas, took part in all the sessions of Quds Force commanders and experts in Diyala Province.
Al-Araji acted as al-Ameri’s deputy in all the attacks staged by the Badr, Katayeb and Asaeb militias against Sunnis and their tribes.
More Quds Force experts and commanders were stationed in Fort Kerkush in the town of Baladruz due to the importance and sensitivity of Diyala Province for Maliki and the Iranian regime as a defensive line before Baghdad. This fort is under the command of Badr forces and al-Araji is stationed in this site. However, he goes to various areas of Diyala Province for the necessary coordination.
In early August 2014 a 10-man delegation of Quds Force commanders and experts entered Diyala Province, accompanied by al-Araji visiting various areas of Sa’diye, Imamveis, Meqdadiya, Mansuriya and Del-Abbas.
In his meetings he had with al-Ameri and other senior Badr commanders in early August 2014, Quds Force chief Qassem Suleimani had emphasized the Badr Organization must obtain a security ministry in the government and not back down at all from this demand. The Quds Force plan was to candidate al-Araji as chief of a key security ministry, and another ministry be placed under another senior Badr commander and al-Ameri’s deputy by the name of Abu Maryam Ansari. Qassem Suleimani had argued if al-Ameri is placed as a candidate for the Interior Ministry he may face stiff opposition from the U.S. and the Sunnis. Therefore, al-Araji’s candidacy for this post is preferred to bypass any such sensitivity.
Al-Araji, head of the Badr faction in the Iraqi Parliament, made interesting remarks in September 2015 regarding his desired ministry, “Inside the (Shiite) National Alliance there are no protests to the defense ministry being provided to the Badr Organization, and parties outside of the National Alliance are protesting. Various individuals inside the National Alliance say the ministry must be an independent figure… The Badr Organization is seeking the ministries of defense and interior.”
Strong support of third PM term for Maliki
Al-Araji was amongst the MPs who strongly supported a third prime ministry term for Nouri Maliki. He intended to have a number of senior Badr commanders be appointed in top ministry posts after Maliki reaching a third term, to have a more open hand in proceeding with the sectarian crackdown and warfare.
“There is no one seen to say Nouri Maliki should take over as prime minister for a third term. This is the result of the elections and the nature of the coalitions that will specify who will be prime minister. If the Nouri Maliki coalition obtains more votes he will have the most possible chances,” al-Araji said.
Al-Araji, enjoying Iran’s substantial and political support, announced in June 2014 that Maliki enjoys Iran’s support for a third term. “During the past day more than 51 MPs have joined the State of Law coalition and the number of coalition members has jumped to 146,” he said to Iraq’s main NINA news agency reporter in Tehran. He went on to provide his assurance of the State of Law gaining more than the 50+1 needed for Maliki to be selected to a third term as prime minister. Maliki’s third term as prime minister enjoys Iran’s support, he emphasized.
Similar to al-Ameri, al-Araji is a staunch believer of Iran’s supreme clerical rule theory and he considers Ali Khamenei as his main religious leader. In the last parliament al-Araji saw it his sharia duty to use all military, militia, government and political leverages to realize Iran’s demands. In this regard he had formed a team of Iraqi MPs including Hassan al-Saneed, chair of the Parliament Defense & Security Commission; Abbas Bayati, an MP associated to the State of Law coalition; and Adnan al-Shahmani, an MP from the Quds Force-associated Shiite militias, in order to pursue Iran’s main demands against its opposition in Iraq and legalize their expulsion them from this country. Along with the team he had established al-Araji was scheduled to provide even more services for Iran in the next government.
During the period when al-Abadi was forming his cabinet, following the differences raised regarding al-Ameri’s candidacy for the interior ministry, al-Araji was mentioned as the alternative for this post. However, in the end Mohamed al-Ghaban was elected as Minister of Interior in al-Abadi’s government.