22 January 2021
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Saturday, 27 February 2016 09:54

PRESS RELEASE For immediate release 25th February 2016


The visit by General  Qasem Soleimani, commander of the criminal Qods Force of Iran to Baghdad, is one of his first trips after being seriously wounded in Syria last November. His aim is to prevent the crumbling of the Shiite militias and to reinforce their control.

Currently, the commander of the Badr militias is Hadi Ameri, the commander of Kata’ib Hezbollah is Abu-Mahdi Mohandess, and the commander of AAH is Qais Khazali. All three militias fall under the ultimate command of the terrorist Iranian Qods Force, led by Soleimani. In recent weeks the most prominent religious leaders and Shi’ia and Sunni political figures have called for the disarming of the militias affiliated with the Iranian regime and Abadi has called for a cut in their numbers of up to 30%, causing great anger and resentment in their ranks. A state of virtual anarchy and lawlessness now exists in many parts of Iraq, causing the Iranian regime to panic. They dare not lose control of their puppet state in Iraq and hence the reason for Soleimani’s flying visit to Baghdad. In parallel to increasing calls to dissolve the militias, the quarrels within the Shi’ia groups who share power and have been traditionally fully backed by Iran, have escalated.

News reports state that Soleimani has visited Baghdad carrying three key messages from Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Firstly to warn the leaders of the Shi’ite coalition: Hakim, Sadr and the al-Dawa party which has been split amongst factions supporting Maliki and Abadi, not to move towards break up; secondly to prevent the weakening of the Hashd al-shaabi (Popular Mobilzation Forces) and thirdly to make sure that Hashd al-shaabi would be involved in all operations in Mosul. So his goal is to prevent undermining Iran’s influence, reinforcing it and putting pressure on Prime Minister Abadi to move in this direction. The recent remarks by Mr Abadi that Hashd al-shaabi will take part in the liberation of Mosul is extremely alarming.

It is a humiliating irony for Abadi that he now has to rely on the feared Soleimani to restore order in Baghdad. Iran has been an enthusiastic backer of the Shi’ia militias from the outset and Qasem Soleimani himself has been their commander in chief in many of their brutal operations inside Iraq. The most murderous militia organisations affiliated with Iran are the Badr Corps, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) and Iraqi Hezbollah (Kata’ib Hezbollah). These militias suppress and massacre Sunnis and the Shi’ites who oppose the Iranian regime’s interference in Iraq. After the removal of Maliki from power and the establishment of the Popular Mobilization Force or Hashd al-Shaabi to combat Daesh, these militias grasped the opportunity and took over control of Hashd al-Shaabi to advance the objectives of the Iranian regime.

Soleimani’s presence in Baghdad should be the final warning to the West that Iraq is on the verge of collapse and Iran is poised to seize control. It is imperative that the UN, the US and the countries in the region should take action, including  designating the militias affiliated with Iran, especially the Badr, AAH and Kata’ib Hezbollah along with their commanders, as terrorists and the Government of Iraq should disarm them and bring their commanders to justice. The West must recognize that Iranian meddling in Iraq is the cause of the current crisis and not the solution to it. The European Iraqi Freedom Association strongly condemns Qasem Soleimani’s interference in the internal affairs of Iraq and calls on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to evict him and other meddling Iranians from his country.

Struan Stevenson

President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA)

(Struan Stevenson was a Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014 and was President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014.)

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