Iran has its tentacles all over Iraq, and the United States has no one to blame but itself. It is a bipartisan failure dating back to the March 2003 invasion. The seeds of this failure can be seen in the interrogation transcripts of Qayis Khazali, the leader of the Mahdi Army’s Special Groups and Asaib Ahl al Haq.
A newly released interrogation report shows that Qayis al-Khazali identified Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Abu Mustafa al-Sheibani as the two individuals Iran trusted “the most with attempting to implement the Iranian agenda in Iraq.” The pair went from being marginal players shortly after the US-led invasion in 2003 to leading the Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces, one of most powerful and influential military organizations in Iraq.
The public seldom hears from the reclusive Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, who last released a speech nearly a year ago. But in his latest message, Baghdadi downplays the loss of his territorial caliphate while claiming the US has entered a new stage of “weakness.”
The majority of coalition strikes over the past three months have been concentrated in Abu Kamal, a critical border crossing on the southern border between Iraq and Syria.
The Secretary-General of Kata’ib Sayyid al Shuhada, an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia, said he is a “soldier” of Abdel Malek al Houthi, the leader of Yemen’s Houthi movement.
An Iranian-controlled Iraqi Shia militia advertised its presence in the current Syrian regime offensive in the southern province of Deraa. The photos provide evidence for Iranian involvement in the offensive.
Various Shia militias from around the Middle East have expressed their support or condolences for the Iranian-backed Hezbollah Brigades, which was targeted in unclaimed airstrikes in eastern Syria on Sunday.
The standoff between the police and Hezbollah Brigades may portend an upcoming power struggle between Iraq’s established security forces and the Iranian-supported Shia militias that make up the Popular Mobilization Units.