Tensions on the Iraqi scene are rising as the so-called “state parties” of the Iranian-backed Militia move towards a military escalation near the Green Zone of the capital, Baghdad, protesting the results of the recent legislative elections, in which they lost a large proportion of their seats, in favor of the Sadrist movement, especially Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq , led by Qais al-Khazali.
It is noteworthy that the Iraqi capital witnessed bloody clashes, on Friday morning, between security forces and militias backed by Iran. Against the backdrop of the latter’s attempt to storm the Green Zone in the Iraqi capital, where the security forces responded by firing live bullets to disperse demonstrators and prevent them from storming the highly fortified area, which includes a large number of official departments and diplomatic missions.
Sectarian tension and Shia-Shia clash threaten Iraq
Commenting on recent developments in Iraq, Kamal Al-Gedouri, the researcher in militia affairs, points out that the escalation may go beyond the clash between the militias and the Iraqi state, to the clash within the Shia Street, especially with the possibility of the Sadrist movement and its supporters entering the clash’s line. Al-Gedouri notes that Muqtada al-Sadr and his current would completely reject any change in the results of the elections, considering that he was the explicit winner in them. He also refers that these moves by the militias threaten a Shia -Shia war that pushes Iraq into the crater of a new and bloodier volcano.
The militias consider the election results crucial for them, especially since, those results will lose the so-called state parties any presence in the Iraqi state, and the government agencies will rid from any influence of Iranian-backed militias and enter the country at a new stage that Iran does not like,” Al- Gedouri explains.
He stresses that the period ahead will be very sensitive and extremely dangerous for Iraq and the Iraqis.
Al- Gedouri points out that the scenario of the Amal-Hezbollah conflict in Lebanon, during the 80s and 90s, has become close to repeating among Iraqi militias, considering the power struggle between those militias and the Sadrist has become more intense.
It is noteworthy that Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Sadrist movement, has interrupted his visit to Baghdad and returned to Najaf against the background of the current events, calling on his supporters to remain calm about what is happening.
Khazali…. and igniting the fires of loyalty to Iran
A number of Iranian-backed militia leaders, led by Qais al-Khazali, the leader of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, led the tension near the Green Zone.
“There are fears among these leaders that Iran will withdraw its support for them and search for alternatives to revive Iranian influence,” according to Abdul Qader al-Dulaimi, a political analyst.
He also points out that Khazali is fully aware that withdrawing Iranian support from him means his end at the political, militia and possibly existential levels.
Al-Dulaimi also stresses that Khazali is currently moving in all directions to regain his influence in Iraq, including the possibility of igniting a civil war in the country and confrontations with the Sadrist movement.
“Khazali does not accept the idea of losing his influence, given that he was the holder of the largest authority in the country, armed with Iranian support and the parliamentary majority, which enabled him in many situations to impose his hegemony on the Iraqi government and appointments in it, especially in security and military appointments,” Al-Dulaimi says.
It is noteworthy that Khazali, in partnership with Hadi al-Amiri, the head of the Badr Organization, led the Parliamentary Conquest Alliance, which gained 17 seats during the last elections, after it had 47 seats during the 2018 elections.
“Khazali is fully aware of the presence of a number of Shia political leaders who wish to present themselves as leaders of Iranian influence in Iraq instead of him and gain Iranian money and support, led by Nouri al-Maliki, the head of the State of Law coalition and former prime minister,” Al-Dulaimi says.
He refers that this would push Khazali to take any step that would block Al-Maliki’s path, even if it was related to a new civil war and clashes in the Shia street.
“Khazali is a person who comes from an armed militia background and has no political background or experience, and this may be a reason for taking uncalculated steps, as he is going through a period and circumstances that may prevent him from distinguishing between political wars and armed wars,” Mohamed Eid, the expert on Middle East affairs, says.
He stresses that the militia leaders have become the biggest threat to the security, sovereignty and unity of Iraq, even more than ISIS and terrorist organizations’ threats.
Conspiracy Theory and Forbidden Weapons Legislation
Linking the weight of tension in Iraq largely to Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq and its leader Khazali comes from several considerations, according to Eid. The first is that Khazali is the biggest loser in the elections, and the second is the attempt to promote conspiracy theory to legalize the use of weapons and escalation during attempts to object to the results.
Eid also notes that it is not the first time that Khazali has turned to a military escalation against the Iraqi state by deploying his militias in the Iraqi streets.
“Khazali sees himself deceived and a victim of a political game played by Muqtada al-Sadr, and that he seeks to turn that conviction into a conspiracy being promoted in Iraqi circles to gain more sympathy in the Shia street so that he can go further in his escalation against the Iraqi state, the election results, and the Sadrist movement,” Eid says.He considers that the Iraqi state is currently required to use all possible forces to prevent the country from sliding into the abyss.
In addition, Eid sees that Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq and a number of state militias, especially its ally Badr Corps led by Hadi al-Amiri and the Iraqi Hezbollah, are preparing for a war in Iraq on the principle of “on my enemies and me,” pointing out that this principle means burning Iraq and destroying the rest of it, before allowing their opponents or opponents of the militia presence to rule the country.
“The mentioned trio will try to drag the entire Popular Mobilization Committee into its escalators scheme against the election results in an attempt to increase military pressure and armed escalation, considering that the militias do not believe in the principles of power transfer,” Eid explains. He stresses that their success in this will open the door of their paradise to Iraq, which may not be closed for tens of years.