Pro-Iranian militias could spell Iraq’s doom

Nobody is naive enough to declare the Iranian regime innocent of meddling in Iraqi affairs.

The Iranian regime does not treat Iraq as an independent and sovereign state. The way it interprets the concept of foreign interference is completely different from international norms, so much so that it perceives any interference in Iraq’s internal affairs as a transgression of Iranian purview. That is perfectly natural in the eyes of Iran’s leaders and those ruling Iraq, buttressed by their parties and well-trained armed forces and militias that have become one of the best-equipped and most powerful of the region.

The US occupation of Iraq in 2003 crowned Iran’s persistent efforts to take Iraq, which began with the Iranian aggression on Iraq in September 1980. The US-led invasion granted the mullahs’ regime the opportunity to isolate the Iraqi people and dismantle its army, as mandated by the American provisional administrator, Paul Bremer.

That decision aligned with Iranian designs, represented in Iraq by the Dawa Party and many other agents who had taken up arms against their motherland during the Iran-Iraq war and killed commanders, pilots, agents, university professors, doctors and many others on Iranian hit lists because they had tried to stem the velayat-e faqih tide at the eastern border of the Arab nation.

No matter how distant in time the onset of occupation might seem, the allegiance of Iraq’s new rulers remains swayed by foreign collusion. Their entire political process, with its democratic slogans, parliamentary elections, constitution or governmental and court systems, was a mere gift from the occupier.

Iraq is polarised between two camps: one that swears allegiance to the United States and another aligned with Iran. This polarisation will not end as long as the heads of the treacherous gangs, who invited in US occupation, are still around.

No sooner than the time it took for the government and Iran’s proxy militias, gathered under the deceptive label of the Popular Mobilisation Forces, backed by coalition forces, to wash their hands of the rubble they had left in Mosul, a frenzy of political auctions for selling and buying power and allegiances took place.

They had not even bothered themselves with facilitating the return of the city inhabitants to their destroyed homes and neighbourhoods. They did not care about helping them with decent job opportunities so they could rise from the ashes of the destructive wars and massacres they had been subjected to by either the Islamic State or by the indiscriminate war on it. That doesn’t come as a surprise since, in the command centres for these wars, there were no predetermined limits set on civilian casualties.

In Mosul and for as far as the eye can see, refugee camps and tent cities have become alternate cities that produce nothing but desperation. Thousands of unemployed people flock to UN tents for a minimum of food for their families.

Basra is on its way to becoming another Mosul. People are leaving the city in droves for better horizons in other cities or other countries. There is nothing for them in Basra but Iran’s proxy militias and their rules and partisans, in addition to pollution, desertification and saline water.

An ageing and crumbling infrastructure is causing the city’s water supply to become contaminated by all types of pollutants, creating conditions for epidemic outbreaks of diseases.

It is clear the ruling parties have no solution for Basra or desire to bring life back to Basra.

The slow death of Iraqi cities is a source of pride in the election campaigns of those loyal to America or to Iran. The head of the Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq militia loved to say: “Don’t celebrate yet. He who laughs last laughs best.” He knows that the Fatah Alliance and the so-called State of Law have the key to forming a clearly pro-Iranian bloc in the parliament. They even picked the name of “Building Bloc” for it, an ironic choice of words since the word “building” presupposes a throwback to the 15 years of destruction resulting from the rule of the religious parties in Iraq and their blind submission to the Iranian project.

In dealing with the United States, the pro-Iranian parties in Iraq fall into two camps. The first presents itself as representing the Iraqi state and therefore must maintain formal relations with the world’s superpower for the sake of the country’s interests. We know its members are playing a hypocritical game.

The second camp is clearly and unabashedly pro-Iranian. Its members, too, are playing a hypocritical game when they pretend to be all for change and reform in Iraq while it is known they are behind the systematic destruction of the country. These are the parties that highjacked Iraq’s sovereign decisions and subjugated them to Iran’s interests in clear efforts to test US intentions towards Iranian influence in Iraq and the region.

The prevailing political context indicates there is going to be an opposition in the parliament whose role is simply to block progress. This opposition is backed by militias and has the power to rouse popular unrest by creating a crisis in parliament. The two competing parliamentary blocs do have this power. The winning camp will form its government and will embark on reforms as it sees fit to win popular support by investing in parts of the needs of the Iraqi population.

The armed militias are going, in the end, to drive Iraq to its predetermined Iranian end. That end has been set by Iran’s ballistic missiles, nuclear programme and strategic weapons that have been either displaced from Iran or made in Iraq. Israel never ceased to track these weapons and will never cease to promise retaliatory actions.

The Abadi government can holler its denial of the facts all it wants and can demand concrete proof all it wants but nobody is naive enough to declare the Iranian regime innocent of meddling in Iraqi affairs.

Hamed al-Kilani is an Iraqi writer.

This article was originally published in The Arab Weekly.