Powerful Iraqi party leader Hadi al-Amiri embraces visit by Iranian president, opposes US bases in Iraq
Protesters gather near the main provincial government building in Basra, Iraq July 15, 2018.. (photo credit: ESSAM AL-SUDANI/ REUTERS)
Two Shi’ite militia leaders spoke out over the weekend, with one threatening the US, and the other demanding American troops leave Iraq.
Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba spokesman Hashim al-Mousawi slammed the US and Israel after the US last week designated the group as a terrorist threat.
Iraqi Transportation Minister Hadi al-Amiri said he was looking forward to a visit by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and that he opposes the continued US presence in Iraq.
On March 5, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control placed Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba on its Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List, under what the office calls its Counter Terrorism Designation.
The US pointed to the organization itself and its leader as a threat, saying it has “committed, or poses a significant risk of committing acts of terrorism.”
The group, which is closely linked to Iran, in 2017 said US troops were a legitimate target. In February 2018, the group vowed to support Hezbollah in Lebanon in a war against Israel.
Last year, Iraqi MP Karim Alawi said the US was spying on Shi’ite militias in Iraq. Iran’s PressTV sought to argue that the move was dangerous and that Harakat Hezbollah had played a key role in the war on ISIS.
Mousawi told Fars News that the region faces a variety of US-driven plots, including a push for normalization with the “Zionist regime” and economic pressure on Iran. He argued that the Iranian backed “axis of resistance,” of which Harakat Hezbollah is a part, has defeated these plots, including attempts by the US to loot Syrian resources.
“Hezbollah [in Lebanon] today represents a large part of the Lebanese people and an integral part of Lebanon,” he boasted. He said the commanders of Harakat Hezbollah were prepared for a confrontation with the US. “We will not retreat in the face of any country that violates Iraqi sovereignty.”
Mousawi also said the group would use parliamentary means first, but that it viewed the conflict as a regional struggle. He made a point of condemning the US role in the Gulf and said the group had its own “Golan unit” to fight against Israel.
The presence of Shi’ite militias in Iraq, some of which fought the US after the 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein, and most of which are closely linked to Iran, raises questions about the continued presence of US troops in Iraq. US forces returned to Iraq to help fight ISIS in 2014.
Initially that footprint was small, but it had grown with the war on ISIS, and to provide logistic support for US forces in Syria. When US President Donald Trump in December 2017 said the US would withdraw from Syria, he also told US forces at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq that the US would pull troops back to Iraq and “watch” Iran. This comes in the context of a US push against Iran’s role in the region and new sanctions rolled out last year.
Iraqi officials have rejected the US using Iraq to “watch” Iran. Iraqi President Barham Salih has said at least three times in the last two months that Iraq must not become a center of the Iran-US power struggle.
He and other Iraqi officials reiterated this statement at the Sulaimani Forum last week. Iraqi officials have said it is up to parliament to decide if US forces will stay. Hadi al-Amiri, the head of the Fatah Alliance, the second largest party in parliament, has indicated that he opposes the US presence in Iraq. Amiri, a former fighter alongside the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war, is head of the Badr Organization, one of the largest of the Shi’ite militias which became part of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) in 2014.
The PMU helped defeat ISIS and became an official Iraq paramilitary group in 2016. In 2017, then-US secretary of state Rex Tillerson caused controversy in Iraq when he said the Shi’ite-dominated PMU should “go home” now that the war on ISIS was over.
Haider al-Abadi, then prime minister of Iraq, told Tillerson that the PMU were the hope for the future of Iraq and the region. Their regional role has been on display as many of these Shi’ite units are not only closely allied to Iran, but also to Hezbollah. Qais Khazali, of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq, visited the Lebanese border near Israel, and indicated he would support Hezbollah in a war with Israel. This is part of Iran’s plan to create a “road to the sea,” or a network of allied groups in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon that are either part of the state, or work as a parallel states supporting Iran and local armed groups.
The US sees this as a threat but doesn’t know how to confront it. US officials, such as National Security Adviser John Bolton, have called for the US to stay in Syria to counterbalance these Iranian-allied groups. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Lebanon this month, according to reports. This will raise tensions with Hezbollah.
The issue of US bases in Iraq is also coming to a head this year. Amiri was quoted in Tasnim News over the weekend as saying he disagreed with any US presence. He also said he welcomed the visit of Iran’s president to Iraq.
The overall picture in Iraq is one in which the US faces an uphill struggle to maintain its presence as ISIS is defeated. The pro-Iranian parties sense that they are in control. Although the Kurdistan autonomous region has tended to support the US staying in Iraq to help fight ISIS remnants, the tensions with pro-Iranian Shi’ite parties and armed groups is growing.
Some Shi’ite militias have attempted to interrupt US patrols in Anbar Province and Mosul in recent months. US Inspector-General reports at the Defense Department also frequently mention these pro-Iranian groups as a threat in Iraq. That the leaders of the groups say they will use parliament for now to oppose the US presence means they seek a political solution at the moment, and are wary of an armed confrontation.
The US Treasury added three top Hezbollah figures to its list of sanctioned individuals on Tuesday, including two members of the Lebanese Parliament and a security official responsible for coordinating between Hezbollah and Lebanon’s security agencies.
It was the first time the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control had designated a member of Lebanon’s Parliament under a sanctions list that targets those accused by Washington of providing support to terrorist organizations. Washington has designated Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
South African fans in Cairo celebrating their team’s win over Egypt at the African Cup of Nations. Photo: Reuters / Sumaya Hisham.
Three days after South Africa stunned the world of international soccer by knocking hosts Egypt out of the 2019 African Cup of Nations, the sound of elation remains clearly detectable in the voice of the team’s Jewish midfielder, Dean Furman.
“It was a fantastic victory, just fantastic,” Furman told The Algemeiner during a break in training on Tuesday, as South Africa prepared for its crucial quarterfinal game against Nigeria, another of the continent’s toughest sides, tomorrow.
Pieter van Oordt, left, with his brother, Roger, at the Israel
For the second time in recent history, a Dutch Christian organization dedicated to supporting Israel has gone head-to-head with the government. With their family tradition of belief in Israel that preceded the state of Israel by almost one hundred years, it seems unlikely that the van Oordts are about to back down, no matter what the odds.
Last month, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy made a request from the management of the Israel Products Center (IPC) to ensure they were in compliance with regulations adopted in 2015 by the European Commission requiring products made by Jewish owned companies in Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights, and sections of Jerusalem to be labeled in a manner indicating their origins.
Studies have shown that dairy cows contribute large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, caused by the organisms living in their microbiomes.
Genetically modifying cows may help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and feed world populations, a new study led by Prof. Itzhak Mizrahi of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev suggests.
“Our findings are both a major breakthrough for basic science and will have a positive impact on two major challenges facing the international community for the foreseeable future: climate change and food security,” Mizrahi said.
The decision by IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi to promote Brig. Gen. Ofer Winter reflects his future political aspirations.
Incoming Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi walks out at the end of a handover ceremony where he replaces Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, Israel, Jan. 15, 2019.
Israel has its own version of Napoleon’s famous saying, “Every soldier carries a marshal’s baton in his pack.” In these parts, every general carries a prime minister’s baton — or at least that of a defense minister — in his pack
As Islamist Watch has pointed out many times before, Islam is enormously diverse – containing many competing schools of theology, schools of jurisprudence, sects, ethnicities, cultures and mysticisms. Islamism is also not a single force; it comprises dozens of (both) competing and collaborating radical ideologies.
One of the most intriguing divisions, then, within both American Islam and Islamism of late has been growing dissent over the question of liberalism.
Right after Trump’s inauguration, I ran an article about how incredibly fake the news coverage was about his inauguration. (Those reading my site know I’m not a big Trump fan, but credit where credit is due and calling fake where calling fake is due.) The media was nothing short of spectacularly fake in the news it contrived that week on CNN, the New York Times and the other major fake media, and they mostly got away with it.
It wasn’t condescension or contempt. Recent remarks by former Mossad head Shabtai Shavit reek of racism. That is the proper way to frame them, calling them anything else is letting him off easy. In its classic, formal sense, racism is when a certain social sector perceives itself as superior because of clear racial criteria. Shavit represents an updated version of racism that doesn’t require ethnicity or religion as proof of a defect – you can call it “essential racism.”
Little Napoleon Barak is going to save Israeli Democracy? What a bunch of claptrap Orwellian doublespeak.
Well let’s check out history. How well did the original Napoleon save France’s democratic revolution against the monarchy?
Hmm, if I recall he crowned himself emperor!
For years, the pundits have been telling us that Israeli democracy is in danger because of the Arab birthrate, or because of the Jewish nation-state law, or because of the debates over the powers of Israel’s High Court.
I wonder if they will recognize the danger posed by the 10 left-wing American Jewish organizations that have formed a new umbrella organization, the essential purpose of which is to undermine Israeli democracy.