The world is today preoccupied with many dangerous global events. In particular, it is anxiously awaiting a resolution to the situation in Ukraine, with NATO, led by the US, fearing that Russian President Vladimir Putin will give the green light for his military forces to invade. The world is also waiting for the results of the negotiations regarding the return of the US and Iran to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal. While these talks are ongoing, Iran is threatening the security of the Gulf region through its Houthi militia.
Meanwhile, in the midst of the rising inflation faced by countries around the world, the US-China competition, the security and political instability in many countries, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, terrorist operations and the increase in Islamic extremism, Iraq is largely ignored despite the political and security crises it is facing. It is as if the war-torn country has become a story from the past, with events there rarely making it to global news bulletins.
Iraq is going through several constitutional, political and security crises, while most of its provinces — including Baghdad — are under the control of militias aligned with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. They did not hesitate to target Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi with an explosive-laden drone, apparently without fear of the law or any other type of punishment.
These militia leaders, who believe that they own all aspects of the Iraqi state, also continue to publicly threaten the security of other Arab countries, knowing that the international community will not act and that US President Joe Biden’s administration will not lift a finger to deter these belligerent threats.
In late January, the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades militia launched a campaign to raise funds for the Houthi terrorist group in Yemen to purchase drones so that it could continue to target Saudi Arabia and the UAE. According to the Washington Institute, the campaign was launched by an organization controlled by the Hezbollah Brigades known as the Sharia Youth Gathering. In a video clip circulated on Iraqi social media accounts, the group’s spokesperson Amir Al-Musawi announced that the grassroots initiative, promoted using the slogan “your money will turn to drones,” aims to punish the ruling families in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. “After a series of continuous assaults by those who made the Zionist dream come true against the oppressed and victorious Yemeni people, the honorable sons of Iraq had to support their Yemeni brothers,” Al-Musawi said.
A few days later, the Hezbollah Brigades’ Abu Ali Al-Askari donated 1 billion Iraqi dinars ($685,000), calling it a “gift” to the campaign. With such attempts to undermine the security of the Gulf states, the Iranian proxies are jeopardizing Iraq’s interests, regional and international relations, and security. On his Twitter account, Al-Askari reiterated his militia’s support for the Yemeni terrorist group, praising its attacks on foreign countries.
The Iraqi militias controlled by the IRGC not only threaten Iraq and its people, but the rest of the region too. If they are not stopped — such as by preventing Iran from funding them and providing them with military equipment — they will drag the country into a major catastrophe, causing a new mass exodus.
Lifting the sanctions imposed on Iran would be like adding insult to injury. The increased cash flow in Tehran would turn into missiles, drones and advanced weapons in the hands of all its militias in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere. Only then will Iraq again lead the world’s news bulletins, but then it will be far too late.
- Dalia Al-Aqidi is Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Policy. Twitter: @DaliaAlAqidi
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