Iran Is Training Iraqis to Shoot Missiles at Israel, and the U.S. Is Paying for It

Although it was originally thought that Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen attacked a Saudi oil pipeline with a drone on May 14, the U.S. government recently confirmed that in fact it was Kataib Hezbollah, an Iraqi militia fully under Tehran’s control. Kataib Hezbollah is but one of several paramilitary groups the Islamic Republic funds and directs in Iraq, under the auspices of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Michael Pregent explains the implications:

[Iran’s] ability to carry out proxy attacks against a U.S. ally from Iraq, another supposed U.S. ally, highlights America’s failed strategy in Baghdad. As a result of American and Saudi pressure, Iraq’s Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi ordered the closure of IRGC militia offices across the country on July 1. However, militias have ignored similar calls before; the Iraqi government either cannot or will not remove the Iranian-backed militias from its territory, nor will it prevent them from targeting U.S. allies. Senior Iraqi politicians will not dare challenge the militia leaders. . . .

Instead, the Iraqi government has been compromised by Iranian influence and allows senior Iranian figures to freely operate in Iraqi territory. [For instance], Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, . . . holds an official Iraqi government position [and] is also the leader of Kataib Hezbollah. . . . As a member of government, Mohandes has access to U.S. intelligence, training, and equipment. . . . Kataib Hezbollah has [also] been trained by the IRGC and Lebanese Hizballah to fire advanced guided missiles from Southern Syria to Israel.

The Iraqi governments’ current strategy to counter Iranian influence involves integrating Kataib Hezbollah and other militias into its armed forces, a plan Pregent argues could make matters worse:

The result will be [Iran-backed] militias wearing Iraqi uniforms. . . . They will be the ones flying U.S. F-16s; they will be the ones driving U.S. M1A1 Abrams tanks, as well as the newly delivered Russian T-80 tanks. They will still answer to [the IRGC] directly.

The U.S. needs to change course in Iraq. The militias need to be opposed, and Mohandes needs to be removed, one way or another.

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Read more at Al-Arabiya

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Iraq, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy

Iran’s Responsibility for West Bank Terror

On Friday, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli police officer and was then shot by another officer after trying to grab his rifle. Commenting on the many similar instances of West Bank-based terror during the past several months, Amit Saar, a senior IDF intelligence officer, predicted that the violence will likely grow worse in the coming year. Yoni Ben Menachem explains the Islamic Republic’s role in fueling this wave of terrorism:

The escape of six terrorists from Gilboa prison in September 2021 was the catalyst for the establishment of new terrorist groups in the northern West Bank, according to senior Islamic Jihad officials. The initiative to establish new armed groups was undertaken by Palestinian Islamic Jihad in coordination with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, implementing the strategy of Qassem Suleimani—the commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards who was assassinated in Iraq by the U.S.—of using proxies to achieve the goals of expansion of the Iranian regime.

After arming Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Iran moved in the last year to support the new terrorist groups in the northern West Bank. Iran has been pouring money into the Islamic Jihad organization, which began to establish new armed groups under the name of “Battalions,” which also include terrorists from other organizations such as Fatah, Hamas, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. First, the “Jenin Battalion” was established in the city of Jenin, followed the “Nablus Battalion.”

Despite large-scale arrest operation by the IDF and the Shin Bet in the West Bank, Islamic Jihad continues to form new terrorist groups, including the “Tulkarem Battalion,” the “Tubas Battalion,” and the “Balata Battalion” in the Balata refugee camp.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Palestinian terror, West Bank