By Amir Basiri February 18, 2015
While U.S. President Barack Obama is pressing to finalize a nuclear agreement with Iran, a growing number of congressmen and officials from allied states, especially in the Middle East, are expressing deep concerns over the framework of the deal being shaped.
During the course of these talks, the Obama administration is reluctant in showing any reaction vis-a-vis Iran’s increasing crusade to expand its influence across the Middle East; in fact it appears the administration is ready to provide Tehran a power-role in the region, which will come at the expense of the people of Middle East nations—especially in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
While Obama is seeking “negotiations for the sake of negotiations,” Iranian leaders are escalating their activities to wreak havoc and instability in U.S.-allied nations throughout the region, from Bahrain to Morocco. Tehran-supported Houthis have recently overthrown the U.S.-backed government in Yemen.
After seizing political power in Iran in 1979, the mullahs realized their dream of founding the first ‘Islamic caliphate’ in modern Iran.
Following grave mistakes made by the U.S. and Coalition forces in attacking and occupying Iraq in 2003, and disrupting the existing balance of power in the region, the Iranian regime—seeking to preserve its own rule—stepped up its adopted policy of exporting fundamentalism and terrorism, upgrading its influence in the Middle East in general, with its main focus on Iraq.
Among leverages used by Iran to further its ends in the Middle East region is the establishment of Shiite militia groups in Iraq and Syria, which are linked to the Iran’s terrorist Quds Force and its infamous commander,Qassem Suleimani. The model used by Suleimani is the Lebanese Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy that has had a major role in implementing Iran’s policy of exporting terrorism and extremism.
Iran’s plan is to organize and equip all Quds Force-associated Shiite militant forces in Iraq into an official military body
In January 2014, after former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (a major ally of the Iranian regime) failed miserably to quell protests in the country’s Sunni areas through his security forces, the Iranian regime decided to boost its efforts by establishing a force in Iraq similar to its own Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
The first step was using militant groups such as Asaeb al-Haq, Kataib Hezbollah and the 9th Badr Corps, all fundamentally established, groomed and trained in Iran under the command of Hadi al-Ameri, Maliki’s former minister of transportation. Ameri is amongst the tens of thousands of Iraqi agents on the payroll of the Quds Force.
In a press conference in May 2014, Salar Abnush, commander of the IRGC unit based in Iran’s Ghazvin Province, said, “We have recently witnessed the establishment of the IRGC in other countries, including Iraq.”
Iran’s plan is to organize and equip all Quds Force-associated Shiite militant forces in Iraq into an official military body playing a role similar to that of the IRGC.
This plot is pursued by Iraqi National Security Advisor Falih Fayyadh who is in charge of the so-called ‘popular mobilization units’ (PMU) in this country.
Iran is following a similar policy in Syria, where Quds Force commanders established a force called the National Defense after the forces of the embattled strongman Bashar al-Assad suffered major defeats and setbacks from the Free Syrian Army.
In an interview aired from Iran’s state-run TV network on February 9, Ali Saeedi, who represents the Iranian regime’s supreme leader in the IRGC, said, “The success in exporting the ‘PMU culture’ in Egypt and Tunisia was very influential.”
Saeedi went further by asserting, “When the Quds Force or any other involved element transferred the ‘PMU culture’ to Syria, the spirit of resistance spread through their popular forces.”
Informed sources inside the Iranian regime have said: In his meetings with Maliki, Suleimani had time and again cited the establishment of the ‘National Defense’ force in Syria as a success, and encouraged Maliki to establish the PMUs.
“In Iraq, there was this issue that Mr. Nouri Maliki could not establish this popular army. As a result Qassem Suleimani was able through his advice to include Maliki in this plan and they were able to completely change the situation on the ground,” Saeedi said in this regard.
Following the incredibly fast disintegration of Maliki’s army in Mosul in June 2014 and the announcement of the PMU project, the Iranian regime used this opportunity to dispatch a number of former Badr commanders—with more than 20 years of experience in working for the Iranian regime and among those listed in the Quds Force payroll—to organize the PMUs ranks and files. This included Baghdad-native Sadeq Abdul-Amir Mohamed al-Sa’adawi, aka Abu Farqad, with the Iranian name of Sadeq Sa’adawi. During the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s he was arrested by Iranians as a first lieutenant of the Iraqi forces. In December 1982 after joining the 9th Badr forces, he was hired by the IRGC and later on appointed as chief of staff of the then PMUs.
In coordination with Fayyadh and Badr militant commander Hadi Ameri, who is currently also an Iraqi MP, Suleimani formed the initial framework of the PMUs in Iraq.
Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, whose real name is Jamal Jafar Mohamed Ali al-Ibrahimi and has an Iranian wife, was appointed as PMU chief of staff. From 1999 to 2002 Mohandes lived in the town of Miftah literally belonging to the IRGC in Kermanshah in western Iran. He was involved in the 1984 terrorist attacks against U.S. and French embassies in Kuwait. In that same year his plans were foiled and his terrorist network was busted. He also commands the Kataib Hezbollah force, notorious for its horrific crimes against the Iraqi people, especially Sunni minorities. Mohandes is also on the list of US Treasury Department sanctions for his role in planning and carrying out terrorist attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq.
Quds Force commanders make up the senior PMU ranking members, all present in Iraq under the guise of military advisors. General Hamid Taghavi, killed in December2014 in Samarra, was a senior Quds Force commander dispatched to Iraq.
Following Maliki’s failure in Iraq’s political spectrum, Suleimani intends to base PMUs in all six Sunni provinces to take control of the situation on the ground before the reestablishment of the Iraqi army with its new framework.
Iran is seeking to regain its lost hegemony in Iraq
The Iranian regime is looking for an individual in the Iraqi government to politically support and represent the PMUs. Tehran’s security officials in their meeting with Maliki during his visit to Tehran in late 2014 mentioned a plot under which all political matters of the PMU will be under his supervision. Isolated in the political spectrum prior to this visit, Maliki welcomed and instantly jumped to this proposal.
Subsequently, Iran used all its assets in its western neighbor to politically support Maliki, raising this issue with leaders of the Shiite coalition and its elements in the Iraqi government in their visits to Iran.
Tehran’s objective in using the PMUs is to groom this force into a military power in Iraq in the future to have it as leverage at its disposal and stand against the demands made by the Sunnis, and also U.S. policies in Iraq. All in all, Iran is seeking to regain its lost hegemony in Iraq.
Tehran’s goals can be clearly seen in another interview by the regime’s state-run TV network with Saeedi, in which he said, “There was a time that our borders were in Shalamche, Haj Omran and Mehran (western Iranian towns bordering Iraq); today, however, our borders are on the coasts of the Mediterranean. Today Yemen is crying out Islamic and revolutionary mantras… this is our strategic depth. Everyone knows that Iran’s missiles were extremely influential on the ground in Lebanon. What kept Iraq intact was the Bassij will and culture… therefore, what is truly needed and necessary for our nuclear negotiations team is to take this matter into consideration; our national interest must not be intertwined to these sanctions.”
Hence, partnering or involving Iran in the Iraq crisis will neither stop their nuclear bomb ambitions, nor ISIS. In fact, it will actually strengthen the ISIS terror machine and the extremely violent crimes seen by Shiite militants; it will also be the element behind the daily growth of militant forces and sectarian war in Iraq and the region since the Iranian regime itself is the problem, and not even a part of the solution!
Amir Basiri is an Iranian human rights activist and supporter of democratic regime change in Iran.
Follow him on Twitter: @Amir_bas