Archive for the ‘Iran – Iraq war’ category

Forcing Iran Out of Iraq

September 21, 2018

“It is difficult to name a conflict in the Middle East that does not have Iran’s fingerprints on it,” said US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.

By Tovah Lazaroff September 21, 2018 The Jerusalem Post

Source Link: Nikki Haley: Iran proxies reportedly developing missile production in Iraq

{Actually, they should be forced out of the Mideast. – LS}

Iranian proxies in Iraq are reportedly developing the capacity to produce missiles, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said on Thursday as she warned against the growing Iranian foothold in Iraq.

“In recent months, Iran’s aggression has escalated. Iranian proxies in Iraq operate openly, with funding, training, and weapons supplied by Tehran. The Iranian regime has reportedly begun over the last few months to transfer ballistic missiles to these proxies in Iraq. It is reportedly developing the capability for its proxy militias to produce their own missiles inside of Iraq,” Haley told the UN Security Council on Thursday.

She spoke at the UNSC’s monthly meeting on the Middle East, as Israel and the United States are increasingly concerned about the Iranian activity in Iraq and the subsequent dangers to both Israel and the United States. Last month, Reuters reported that Iran has given ballistic missiles to Shi’ite proxies in Iraq with the capacity to hit Israel. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has warned that the IDF, which has focused on preventing an Iranian foothold in Syria, could expand it activities against Iran to other areas of the Middle East.

All the council members who spoke at the UNSC meeting, however, focused the debate on Israeli actions against the Palestinians.

Haley, whose country holds the rotating UNSC presidency this month, chaired the meeting. On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump plans to chair a UNSC meeting of foreign minsters on global non-proliferation.

During her speech, Haley chastised the UNSC members for their focus on Israel over other Middle Eastern dangers such as Iran.

“If there is one country that is the source of conflict and instability in the Middle East – one country that merits a quarterly debate in the Security Council – that country is not Israel. It’s Iran.”

“It is difficult to name a conflict in the Middle East that does not have Iran’s fingerprints on it,” she added.

Iran has “trampled on the sovereignty of its neighbors” in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq where they want to create an “Iranian controlled corridor for weapons and fighters from Tehran to the Mediterranean,” Haley said.

Iranian General and head of the IRGC Quds Force Soleimani, who is leading an effort to influence the composition of a new Iraqi government, has “practically taken up residence in Iraq” in defiance of UNSC resolution 2231, Haley said.

“Iran sees Iraq as merely a transit point for Iranian weapons and a training ground for Iranian proxies,” said Haley. Iran wants to see an economically weak and dependent Iraq, so that it can be a base by which to illicitly fund terrorist activities, Haley charged.

Iran has already attacked the US in Iraq, said Haley. “Two weeks ago, two Iranian proxy groups launched rocket attacks on the American Embassy in Baghdad and the U.S. Consulate in Basra,” she said.

She restated a White House warning to Tehran.

“We hold the Iranian regime fully accountable for its proxies’ attacks on U.S. facilities and personnel in Iraq. And we will not hesitate to vigorously defend American lives,” Haley said.

 

Iranian Revolutionary Guards launch recruitment campaign in preparation for war against Iraqi Kurdistan: official

July 21, 2017

Iranian Revolutionary Guards launch recruitment campaign in preparation for war against Iraqi Kurdistan: official, World Affairs Journal, ARA News, July 20, 2016

(Please see also, Ezra Levant in Iraq: Kurdish Muslims who protect Christians. — DM)

ran’s Revolutionary Guards. File photo

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces in Iran’s Kurdistan and its recruiting forces, known as the Basij, have received orders to launch a recruitment campaign in preparation for a possible war against the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq in the event of its independence.

On Wednesday, Iranian Kurdish journalist Azad Mustovi quoted an informed source in Kurdistan Iran as saying that in recent days, the headquarters of the Revolutionary Guards and the mobilization forces “have launched a recruitment campaign to send troops to Iraqi Kurdistan if necessary” in preparation for a possible war with the Kurdish Peshmerga of Iraq in the event of the declaration of independence of Iraqi Kurdistan, which is planned for September 25.

According to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity for security concerns, some elements of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards of Iranian Kurds origins declared their unwillingness to fight against the Kurds of Iraq, but they are ready to fight against ISIS.

Mustovi told Al-Arabiya that: “After the president of the Kurdistan region, Masoud Barzani, announced the organization of an independence referendum from Iraq on September 25th, the Iranian regime has been trying to prevent it at any cost.”

In June, the Iranian government condemned the Kurdish move towards independence in northern Iraq, urging all parties to “respect the Iraqi constitution and maintain unity.”

“This unilateral move by Erbil (capital of Iraqi Kurdistan) is unacceptable,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Bahram Qasimi said.

“The Kurdistan region is a part of Iraq, and it cannot be separated from the country,” Qasimi stressed, calling Kurdistan’s independence referendum “an irresponsible move”.

The President of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Masoud Barzani, announced September 25 as a referendum day on Kurdish independence.

Both Iran and Turkey have opposed an independence referendum, however, the Iraqi Kurds say that the regional countries should not interfere in the region’s affairs.

“When we talk about a referendum, we talk about Kurdistan in Iraq only,” KRG’s foreign relations chief Falah Mustafa Bakir said, in a message to the neighbouring countries that have their own Kurdish populations, and fear Kurdish independence will inspire their own Kurds to seek more independence.

Iran Regime President: The Government Builds the Missiles

July 13, 2017

Iran Regime President: The Government Builds the Missiles, Iran News Update, July 13, 2017

Rouhani’s statements defending JCPOA once again exposed more than ever the depth of divisions among the regime’s various bands.

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INU – At a ceremony entitled Healthy Life Festival on 11 July 2017, the Iranian regime’s president Hassan Rouhani said: “…The strategic weapons built by the 11th (i.e. Rouhani’s) government, make up 80% of the total weapons built in the previous governments.”

In his preliminary speech, in an attempted to take missile claims and the claims about military presence in the countries of the region out of the hands of the Khamenei Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and in order to advance his own demands, he made significant confession saying that despite the sanctions, his government has given the Iraqi government and the Syrian regime all the money and weapons they needed.

He also noted the IRGC’s missile attack on Syria and said: “We hear that a missile fired from our land and targeted a center, a terrorist center. It is true that those who fired the missile tried hard and sacrificed but who built the missile? The defense Ministry builds these missiles.”

Rouhani’s statements defending JCPOA once again exposed more than ever the depth of divisions among the regime’s various bands.

While attacking Khamenei’s band in this regard, Rouhani said: “If the foreign minister were supposed to go out of the field with a few cursing and (insulting) slogans, the JCPOA would not be realized. Well, some people insulted the foreign minister, on their site, in their newspaper, on the anniversary of the revolution on February 11, on the streets of Tehran; well, one should not be excluded from the service field for the slogans of a few individuals.”

Rouhani also referred to the rival band as “a minority that monopolized everything” and added: “We should not be afraid of those who unfortunately have the big loudspeakers unjustly at their disposal…”

The Iranian People Hope Trump Will Support Them, Not Their Rulers

May 14, 2017

The Iranian People Hope Trump Will Support Them, Not Their Rulers, Iran Focus, May 14, 2017

(Please see also, Prosecutor General Warns against Attempts to Upset Election Security in Iran. — DM)

The new American president is reviewing policy with regards to Iran, and with an eye to change. Kashfi suggests that, “Any further support for the un-elected regime in Teheran, be it commercial, economic, diplomatic should be tied to a commitment by the Islamic regime to stop supporting international terrorism and to respect women, minorities, and human rights.”

With the change of power in America, the hope and expectation of the Iranian people is that Washington will support the Iranian people, and advocate the overthrow of the Islamic regime.

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London, 14 May – It’s been reported that more than 9 million Iranians have fled their homeland since the Revolution in 1979. This means that more than 12 percent of Iran’s citizens chose to abandon their homes, families, and belongings, to maintain their freedom. It is estimated that close to four million Iranians have taken refuge in the U.S since 1979.

These refugees consider the International, and specifically European, trade agreements and relations with Iran, their worst nightmare.

The Islamic regime and some in the international community claim that support for the so-called “reformist” and “pragmatic” President Hassan Rouhani will ultimately bring freedom and democracy to Iran. They attempt to convince the free world and democratic countries that appeasement and normalized relations will change the Iranian regime’s attitude and behavior.

“However,” writes Mansour Kashfi, author and president of Kashex International Petroleum Consulting with over 50 years’ experience in petroleum exploration, primarily in Iran in an article for WorldTribune, “the distinction between a ‘moderate’ president and ‘fundamentalist’ Supreme Leader in Iran is a political subterfuge used to mislead the population and perpetuate the inherent corruption of the Islamic regime governing system.

This corruption will not only continue to oppress the Iranian people but also undermine the transparency in business dealings with foreign investors.”

After two years of negotiations, an agreement was reached to lift the sanctions on Iran in return for the Islamic Republic halting its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.

In the midst of this, former President Obama decided to attempt to make a connection with Ayatollah Khameini, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic regime. Obama sent Khameini several friendly letters. Some called this course of action outrageous, considering that the Iranian people were crying for democracy and American help to support a secular government in Iran, and the disastrous human rights issues in Iran, continued terrorist acts in the region, and ongoing testing of intercontinental missiles. Obama may have done better by establishing a relationship with the Iranian people, instead.

According to Kashfi, “Clergies in Iran are as murderous as any religious group in history. From the very first day of the Islamic regime’s establishment, they executed many innocent Iranian officials and military officers, and provoked war with Iraq just to consolidate their dictatorial regime,” and adds, “During eight years of bitter war with Iraq and over one million casualties, clergies dragged school children to the front lines, where their little bodies were used as sandbags to clear mine fields.”

“War was an excuse to execute dissidents and anyone who displeased the bloodthirsty clergies. Minorities including non-Shiite believers such as Sunnis, Jews, Christians, and Bahais were executed on political charges. All these killings and unjust acts in Iran were carried out on command of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khameini,” writes Kashfi.

According to The U.S. Congress’s Human Rights Country Report there has been no change in the status of human rights in Iran. Since 2013, when Hassan Rouhani became president, the status of human rights worsened.

Respect for human rights distinguishes America as a great nation, so Kashfi wonders how it can “…still believe it can establish a lasting line of communication with a terrorist regime in Iran that routinely persecutes religious and ethnic minorities, tortures and systematically executes political prisoners, and promotes international terrorism abroad?” He adds, “…when America fails to lead, enemies of freedom like the Islamic regime of Iran and Russia fill the vacuum.”

After the U.S.withdrew from Iraq, Kashfi says that “the Islamic regime did everything it could to establish oppression and spread terror in that country, and Russia began focusing on the southern Persian Gulf states.”

The new American president is reviewing policy with regards to Iran, and with an eye to change. Kashfi suggests that, “Any further support for the un-elected regime in Teheran, be it commercial, economic, diplomatic should be tied to a commitment by the Islamic regime to stop supporting international terrorism and to respect women, minorities, and human rights.”

With the change of power in America, the hope and expectation of the Iranian people is that Washington will support the Iranian people, and advocate the overthrow of the Islamic regime.

US-Gulf Front Proposed to Eliminate ISIS, and End Iran’s Influence

March 2, 2017

US-Gulf Front Proposed to Eliminate ISIS, and End Iran’s Influence, Iran News Update, March 2, 2016

bunchatroops

An idea has about how to fight the war against ISIS that isn’t limited to additionally weaponry or forces in Raqqa and Mosul, but rather, forming a [group] that will ferociously fight ISIS, on the condition that areas liberated from ISIS will not [be] occupied by Iran or by militias affiliated with Iran.

In exchange for a contribution in the war against ISIS, whether in Iraq or Syria, Iran must not be inside these areas. This must be made clear to the Iraqi government. Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, stated that the US will continue to support Iraq even after it’s liberated from ISIS, but all agree, there must be an end to the Iranian expansion in Arab capitals. A united front not only insists on the exit of Iranian forces from Iraq and Syria, but that also desires the end of Iranian influence. The message was conveyed by  Gulf countries and the US.

The next phase will be the establishment of a US-Gulf front.

According to an article by Sawsan al-Shaer for Al Arabiya, “If Iraq wants Gulf countries to support its security and stability by cooperating with the US, it must act to address the security chaos caused by Iranian militias on its land.”

A major goal is the exit of foreign forces and militias supported by Iran from Syria and Iraq. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, said in an interview with the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, “Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries announced they’re willing to participate with special troops alongside the US. Some countries from the Islamic Alliance to fight terrorism and extremism are also ready to send troops. We will coordinate with the US to know what the plan is and what is necessary to execute it.”

Additionally, US President Donald Trump ordered Mattis to draw up a plan within 30 days to combat ISIS. According to the German daily’s interview with Jubeir, he expects these plans to be proposed soon. “The major idea is to liberate areas from ISIS and to also guarantee that these areas do not fall in the hands of Hezbollah, Iran or the (Syrian) regime,” Jubeir said.

Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Turkish Foreign Minister, said on January 4, that the Syrian regime must go back to the negotiating table and deal directly with the opposition to achieve peaceful political transition in Syria. “We must send a strong message in which we demand that all foreign militias exit Syrian territories immediately,” he said, and emphasized the importance of the withdrawal of all militias from Syria in the end of 2016 after what was known as the Russian-Iranian-Turkish document was announced. This document led to calling for the Astana conference in Kazakhstan.

Meanwhile, talk is already begun about the post-ISIS phase in Iraq. In early January, former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki rushed to visit Iran, and met with Ali Akbar Velayati, Khamenei’s international affairs advisor. On January 4, Al-Arabiya.net reported that according to the Mehr news agency, Maliki said he went to Iran to meet with Khamenei to discuss what he called “possible threats post-ISIS.”

Al-Arabiya’s report added: “This is a new political term in international and regional politics especially that the war against ISIS has not ended yet in Iraq and Syria. The point of Maliki’s statements that he went to Iran to discuss possible threats post-ISIS with Iranian officials are unclear as the extremist organization is not present among the Iranians and ISIS does not have any announced military activity in Iran.”

How Iran actually lost in Aleppo

December 26, 2016

How Iran actually lost in Aleppo, American ThinkerHeshmat Alavi, December 26, 2016

For 16 years America has failed to adopt a correct policy in the Middle East despite having huge opportunities to make significant changes. The 2003 war literally gift-wrapped Iraq to Iran, parallel to the highly flawed mentality of preferring Shiite fundamentalism to Sunni fundamentalism. This allowed Iran take full advantage of such failures and resulting voids.

Aleppo will be a short-lived success story for Iran. The tides are changing across the globe and Iran will no longer enjoy opportunities from West rapprochement. Understanding this very well, this is exactly why Tehran has resorted to such atrocities and sought to massacre all in Aleppo.

In contrast to how the U.S. handed Iraq in  a silver plate to Iran, Russia never entered the Syria mayhem to hand it over to Iran. The roots of Aleppo remain in the hearts of all Syrians. As world powers, especially the U.S. and Russia review their future objectives, Iran will be the first and ultimate party to suffer.

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Following a historic period of perseverance, Syrian rebels and their families were forced to evacuate eastern Aleppo after its liberation back in 2012. An unjust, intense war was launched upon Aleppo by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and its proxy forces on the ground: Russia with its indiscriminate air strikes, and a lame-duck Syrian army of less than 20,000 deployable forces.

After more than 15 months continuous air raids and a long-lasting inhumane siege, Syrian rebels and civilians sealed an international agreement to depart Syria’s once economic and cultural hub.

In the past few weeks widespread bombing campaigns continued relentlessly on civilian areas. No Aleppo hospital was spared. The IRGC and its foot-soldiers, numbering at the tens of thousands, spearheaded the military of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad in horrific mass executions of innocent people. The United Nations reported 82 individuals, including women and children, were murdered on the spot in the streets and in their homes. God knows how many more incidents have gone unreported.

The amazing perseverance shown by Aleppo locals for years now in the face of atrocious airstrikes and artillery shelling is unprecedented to say the least. Amidst all this, the silence and inaction seen from the West, especially the United States, will remain forever a source of shame.

Conflict of Interests

In the pro-Assad camp there are three decision-makers. First Russia, second Iran, and third the Syrian regime. The role played by Assad and his military in such scenes is next to nothing.

The West and Turkey became frantic for a ceasefire in Aleppo in the early days of the war due to the negative public opinion resulting from shocking crimes. They sought to have the rebels and remaining civilians transferred to other Syrian opposition controlled areas.

On December 13th, Washington and Moscow reached what can be described a ceasefire agreement. Intense negotiations between Turkey and Russia were started afterwards, resulting in an agreement between the Syrian opposition with Russia and Turkey to evacuate Aleppo. Practically, the parties involved in the talks were Aleppo representatives and Russia, hosted by Turkey. All necessary preparations were made to begin evacuating the city from the morning of Wednesday, December 14th.

However, Iran disrupted this agreement and the IRGC hindered the evacuation process. It was crystal clear Russia and Iran were pursuing different objectives and sets of interests. Iran sought not to have Aleppo evacuated but to exterminate all Syrian rebels and civilians.

Twenty-four hours later, pressure from the international community forced the implementation of the Russia-Syrian rebel agreement on December 15th. On the morning of that day the first convoy carrying the wounded exited Aleppo, only to face roadblocks imposed by Iran-backed forces and the Assad military.

Iran raised certain conditions for the evacuation. Russia later threatened to airstrike any party hindering the evacuation, an obvious warning to Iran. Tehran was forced to wind back under Moscow pressure.

As a result, the last phase of this war and the method chosen to evacuate Aleppo was a defeat for Iran and a victory for the Syrian opposition. Especially since the conflict of interest between Iran/Assad and Russia became crystal clear. Politically speaking, Iran has become a secondary party in Syria.

“For Putin, a political settlement now makes sense. Staying involved in an ongoing insurgency does not. But for that, he needs the opposition — which is fractured — to accept a political outcome, and there is little prospect of that so long as Assad remains in power,” as explained by Dennis Ross, who served as the Director of Policy Planning in the State Department under President George H. W. Bush, the special Middle East coordinator under President Bill Clinton, and was a special adviser for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia (which includes Iran) to the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Is this the end?

The turn of events does not spell the end of the Syrian opposition. The opposition controls large swathes of Syria, with areas over ten times larger than Aleppo and millions of residents. Idlib Province has at a three million strong population; the western coast of the Euphrates in the Turkish border, recently liberated by the Free Syrian Army from Daesh (ISIS/ISIL); large portions of Deraa Province neighboring Jordan; a strategically important section in the north in Latakia Province on the Turkish border; large portions of areas in the Damascus vicinity and large portions in the Aleppo vicinity.

In contrast to Western mainstream media reporting, the Syrian opposition enjoys the capability to rise once again.

Despite all its differences, a comparison made to the Iran-Iraq War may help. In 1986, Iran made significant advances taking control over the Faw peninsula in southern Iraq. Western media and think-tanks all forecasted further advances by Iran and a defeat for Iraq. In 1988 Iran was forced into a U.N.-brokered ceasefire agreement.

Deep divisions between the Syrian nation and the Assad regime have reached the point of no return. Nearly 500,000 have been killed and more than half of the Syrian population displaced. The Syrian nation will never accept the continuation of this regime. Despite sporadic military advances, Assad has no place in Syria’s future.

Where Iran stands in Syria

Iran will not be the final victor in Syria.

First — For Iran, it is vital to maintain Assad in power. His fall will mark the end of Iran’s crusades in Syria. Even if the Syrian opposition becomes weaker, the overall crisis will continue while Assad remains in power. Assad is no longer acceptable in the international stage with an international consensus over his resort to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Second — While Iran is financing and providing the ground forces, in this war, it no longer enjoys the first and final word. Russia calls the shots now with stark differences in interest, as seen in Aleppo.

Trump’s America

U.S. President Barack Obama’s weak foreign policy, especially the failed engagement with Iran, prolonged the Syrian crisis, allowed Tehran to take advantage, Russia to take the helm and America be sidelined.

Where will developments lead with Donald Trump in the White House? What will be the new U.S. foreign policy vis-à-vis Syria, Iran and the Middle East? How can we define Washington’s relationship with Moscow, and what practical measures will Trump take against Daesh (ISIS/ISIL)? Time will tell.

Good relations between the U.S. and Russia will at least not have a negative impact on the region, and this is good news for the Syrian opposition. Russia has weighable interests in Syria. However, what will Trump do with Iran? Considering Trump’s harsh tone on Iran to this day, far more positive outcomes can be forecasted for the Syrian opposition.

Second, Trump and secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson have the potential of eventually convincing Russia to provide concessions. This is not in Iran’s interests, as Tehran remembers Russia ditching Libyan the dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

Lesson learned in Syria

For 16 years America has failed to adopt a correct policy in the Middle East despite having huge opportunities to make significant changes. The 2003 war literally gift-wrapped Iraq to Iran, parallel to the highly flawed mentality of preferring Shiite fundamentalism to Sunni fundamentalism. This allowed Iran take full advantage of such failures and resulting voids.

Aleppo will be a short-lived success story for Iran. The tides are changing across the globe and Iran will no longer enjoy opportunities from West rapprochement. Understanding this very well, this is exactly why Tehran has resorted to such atrocities and sought to massacre all in Aleppo.

In contrast to how the U.S. handed Iraq in a silver plate to Iran, Russia never entered the Syria mayhem to hand it over to Iran. The roots of Aleppo remain in the hearts of all Syrians. As world powers, especially the U.S. and Russia review their future objectives, Iran will be the first and ultimate party to suffer.

 

U.S. Accused of Training Iranian-Tied Forces in Iraq

December 16, 2016

U.S. Accused of Training Iranian-Tied Forces in Iraq, Washington Free Beacon, December 26, 2016

(It all depends on what “Iranian-tied” means. — DM)

pmfIraqi government-backed Popular Mobilization forces take part in a joint military parade with Iraqi security forces in Baghdad / AP

“There are militiamen, Sunni, Shias, and Christians who are not part of the Iranian-backed network in Iraq and are not necessarily amenable to Tehran’s influence,” he said. “However, these are dwarfed, out-financed, and out-gunned by the IRGC-backed militias, who promote the brand of Islamic identity as espoused by the IRGC, and openly display ideological loyalty to the velayat-e faghih (the Islamic Republic’s founding ideology) and Iran’s supreme leader.”

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The United States military is facing accusations that it has been training Iraqi militia fighters who are tied to Iran, a charge that military officials who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon denied this week while insisting that the United States and Iran share common goals in the war-torn country, as both sides fight to eradicate the threat of Islamic State terrorists.

The latest charge that the United States may be directly involved in the training of Iranian-backed militia fighters has reignited concerns that America is becoming too cozy with Iranian interests operating in Iraq, an issue that highlights the difficultly facing U.S forces as they seek to counter the influence of ISIS.

Video recently emerged of U.S. military advisers training Iraqi militia fighters in Makhmur. Some foreign policy observers assessed that these militia fighters may have ties to Iran, which controls an increasing number of Iraqi militia fighters taking on ISIS.

The charge was picked up this week in a lengthy Los Angeles Times exposé claiming, “The U.S. is helping train Iraqi militias historically tied to Iran.”

Senior military sources who spoke to the Free Beacon denied the United States is directly working with Iranian forces, but acknowledged the United States and Iran do share similar goals in Iraq when it comes to combatting the threat of ISIS.

“In Iraq, with regards to ISIL, our interests and Iranian interests have some convergence,” said one senior military official who spoke to the Free Beacon on background, using another acronym for the Islamic State.

Iranian influence over militias in Iraq continues to be a challenge for the United States, which is barred by law from working with any such group. Foreign policy insiders who spoke to the Free Beacon about the issue warned that U.S. intervention against ISIS in Iraq is serving to bolster and legitimize Iran’s regional influence.

During last spring’s campaign in Fallujah, the U.S. provided air cover to Iraqi fighters, some of whom came from militias tied to Iran. Iranian media reported that some of the fighters belonged to Iran’s state-controlled militia.

“The forces that the LA Times observed in that story are not affiliated with Iran,” Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for the U.S. Joint Task Force operating in Iraq, told the Free Beacon. “They are approved as hold forces ‎for terrain that has been liberated by the Iraqi Security Forces. They are being trained by coalition forces. They are local forces, and they represent diverse ethnic and sectarian backgrounds. The local tie is a key element in their acceptance by the population they are going to keep secure.”

Dorrian added that the headline on the LA Times article discussing the training of these militias “is very misleading.”

“There’s a lot of good information ‎in the article but the Iranian tie is nonexistent,” Dorrian said. “The Government of Iraq has enrolled these forces as Popular mobilization forces. I think LAT conflated that fact with Iran. Despite my telling them there’s no tie, they went with that headline.”

Multiple other military officials, Obama administration sources, and outside experts familiar with the matter told the Free Beacon that the militia fighters depicted in recent videos have no ties to Iran.

However, they said the United States and Iran share common goals in Iraq, where the threat of ISIS has sparked sectarian battles and endangered the Western-backed government.

A State Department official authorized only to speak on background told the Free Beacon that the United States does not train any Iranian-tied fighters, even if they are officially backed by the Iraqi government.

“The U.S. provides support to the Iraqi Security Forces, and those aligned with the Iraqi government,” the official said. “The U.S. does not, and will not, provide direct support to any group proscribed by American law, or which does not operate under the aegis of the Iraqi government.”

Much of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces, or PMFs, are comprised of Shia Muslim fighters, many of whom are ideologically aligned with Iran’s hardline regime.

Maj. Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway, a Defense Department official, confirmed to the Free Beacon that some Iraqi units have been barred from receiving U.S. training due to their inability to pass background checks.

“Some Iraqi units have been restricted from receiving assistance because their commander didn’t pass vetting,” Rankine-Galloway said. “Because that quarterly report is classified, we cannot release which units were disqualified from receiving ITEF assistance.”

Rankine-Galloway further maintained that the United States has not changed its policy with regards to training in Iraq.

“U.S. government support to the counter-ISIL campaign remains by, with, and through the central Government of Iraq—and only to forces under the command and control of the Iraqi Security Forces,” Rankine-Galloway said. “Department of Defense policies on the provision of military assistance to foreign military forces have not changed. Iraqi Security Forces units who receive Iraq Train and Equip Fund assistance are strictly vetted” for ties to terror groups and the government of Iran.

Critics of the Obama administration’s policy in Iraq charge that even if the forces are not directly under the Iranian government’s orders, they are influenced by its senior military leaders.

“For proof the Obama administration treats our enemies like friends, look no further than their efforts to train armed militias loyal to Qassem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC-Qods Forces, in Makhmur,” said one senior congressional aide who works on the matter. “Incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn knows intimately what Iran is capable of, so it’s hoped that he and the Trump administration will reverse this disgrace.”

Amir Toumaj, an Iran analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said that militia fighters tied to Iran far outnumber other fighters in Iraq.

“There are militiamen, Sunni, Shias, and Christians who are not part of the Iranian-backed network in Iraq and are not necessarily amenable to Tehran’s influence,” he said. “However, these are dwarfed, out-financed, and out-gunned by the IRGC-backed militias, who promote the brand of Islamic identity as espoused by the IRGC, and openly display ideological loyalty to the velayat-e faghih (the Islamic Republic’s founding ideology) and Iran’s supreme leader.”

“Key leaders” in the PMF “are beholden to Qassem Soleimani,” a top Iranian military leader, Toumaj said. “For example, the PMF operations commander is Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, Iran’s number one man in Iraq who has been designated as a terrorist by the U.S. Treasury and has overseen lethal attacks against U.S. soldiers during the occupation of Iraq. Iraqi militia and party leaders openly travel to Iran, and have received royal treatment, such as Akram al Kabi, head of Harakat al Nujaba, or the Movement of the Noble. The group under his command has committed war crimes and summary executions of women and children in east Aleppo this past week, according to the U.N.”

“The law legalizing the PMF has been welcomed in Iran. When Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei this past week received Ammar Hakim, head of the National Alliance Shia party that helped passed that bill, he called the PMF a ‘great wealth’ for Iraq that should be ‘supported and consolidated.’”

“The current U.S. policy of defeating the Islamic State above all else is empowering the IRGC-backed network, which has worked to infiltrate the Iraqi government and cement itself into a part of the state and establish an Iraqi version of the IRGC, crystallized in the PMF,” Toumaj said.