Friday 17 June 2016

Iran arming Shiite militias in Iraq

June 2016

After Iran lost its political hegemony in Iraq with former Iraqi prime minister Nouri Maliki being set aside, and following the military defeats it suffered in operations targeting Salahadin and Tikrit, from late April of this year Iran has launched new military measures under the pretext of liberating the city of Fallujah in Anbar Province, west of Baghdad. Revolutionary Guards Quds Force chief Qassem Suleimani in his new round of military activities in Iraq attempted realize his objective through official and government channels, and by using Shiite military forces, parallel to equipping and arming these units with new weapons. Qassem Suleimani sought to enhance the Popular Mobilization Units (a conglomerate of Iran-backed Shiite militia groups) into a regional military power and downgrade the role played by the Iraqi Army. This Quds Force policy is in line with the same policy Iran sought to implement through the PMU from 2013 and integrating this unit into an entity similar to the IRGC. Arming the PMU with light and medium weapons, along with rockets/missiles through transferring the technology of this weaponry to Iraq are amongst the objectives of the IRGC Quds Force.

Due to the heavy expenses Iran has endured to arm and equip the PMU and Shiite militia forces during the past few years, recently the Quds Force has decided to transfer a part of its arms technology to Iraq and use this know-how under the pretext of the Iraqi defense industry and actually use the Shiite militias in launching various arms factories inside Iraq.
On May 16th, 2016 Iranian Deputy Defense Minister Ghasem Taghizadeh visited Iraq and met with his counterpart Khaled al-Obeidi. This meeting was held to arrange the transfer of various types of missiles and rockets to the Shiite militias, and hold talks based on launching factories to actually manufacture the weaponry and defensive equipment in Iraq. On the very same day when Taghizadeh entered Baghdad, the missiles/rockets consignment sent by the IRGC arrived in Baghdad and distributed by the Defense Ministry amongst the PMU and Shiite militia groups to provide the backup artillery fire for the Fallujah offensive.
Based on the agreements made a portion of the Iran defensive industry equipment production would be carried out inside Iraq and the Shiite militias would play a main role in manufacturing the Iranian weaponry inside their country. In Taghizadeh’s meeting with the Iraqi Defense Minister the transfer of a portion of Iran’s missile/rocket technology to Iraq, especially the cities of Basra and Najaf, were placed on the agenda for the near future. This not officially acknowledges the PMU in the Iraqi military structure, but also places the Iraqi defense industry under the control of the PMU and Shiite militias.

“The Iraqi Industry and Mining Ministry announced a memorandum of understanding has been signed with Iran for the transfer of war industry technology to Iraq, especially regarding the manufacturing of missiles/rockets, the necessary launchers and mortars… the agreement was made also on the detachment of an Iranian delegation to evaluate the adequate sites in Iraq to build and install the new manufacturing lines in order to produce war weaponry and ammunition,” a number of news agencies wired on May 29th.

Abdulvahed al-Shemeri, Director of the Iraqi Industry & Mining Ministry press center, who in May reported the production of water coolers based on solar energy, made remarks on May 31st about the production of rocket/missile launchers.
“The Ministry of Industry & Mining has manufactured rocket/missile launchers for the PMU. We are trekking an already evaluated path to activate the military industry… this ministry went on to announce its new war equipment productions built by the personnel of the Ebn Majed company,” he said.
It is worth noting that this company is based in Basra Province in southern Iraq and is considered one of the companies supporting the Iraq’s war industry.
“The Ebn Majed Company is manufacturing missile launchers boarded on vehicles and can be used on a 360-degree basis. They are built for the PMU. These rockets are 122 to 350mm caliber and their lengths are 2,800mm with a range of 2,700 meters,” he continued.
“This company has in the past built eight 107mm missile launchers to be used to launch missiles boarded on vehicles. These rockets are known for their easy use and transferability,” al-Shemeri added.

Iran has agreed to place the technology to build these rockets at Iraq’s disposal, and as a first step they are launching these measures in Basra through the Ebn Majed Company that is linked to the IRGC and Shiite militias. To this end Iran has transferred its rocket production industry into Iraq and enabled the Shiite militias to build such weapons.
The presence of PMU forces in the Fallujah operations came after an agreement made that the U.S. did not oppose. The agreement with the presence of Shiite militias and PMU forces in the Fallujah offensive was made under the basis that these militias be used in war fronts and various battles, and not be allowed to cause insecurity in Baghdad, or plot against the al-Abadi government.
In the Fallujah offensive Iran has committed not to directly provide weapons and rockets to Shiite militias and PMU forces, but through the Iraqi Defense Ministry to make everything seem official and according to protocol.
Shiite militias and PMU forces received a number of Iranian rocket consignments prior to the Fallujah offensive that was launched on May 23rd. A number of these rocket/missile launchers were built in Iran’s defense industry and arrangements have been made for similar launchers to be made in Iraq for the Shiite militias.

Below are images of a number of the launchers built by the Iranian Defense Ministry and transferred to Iraq, along with a number of the rockets/missiles built by Shiite militias under the supervision of Quds Force experts.

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