allies have moved to recruit members of the Sunni tribes from the western
provinces to fight the US troops inside Iraq, sources revealed. This came through
meetings by Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani
with Sunni Arab leaders in Baghdad and areas of northern Iraq.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also held meetings last week with sheikhs (leaders) of the tribes of central and southern Iraq, which has relative extensions with the Western tribes.
Muzahim al-Hewitt, a spokesperson for the Nineveh Arab Tribes, warned of attempts by "factions affiliated with Iranian-backed [IMIS]" to recruit people from Mosul and Kirkuk to target US forces in the country.
Hewitt said that the Arab tribes informed the American sides of the information they got, adding that these operations would be dubbed a "national revolution against the American occupation in Iraq," adding that such efforts came after US President Donald Trump's secret visit to Iraq.
"Names of [people from] the two provinces (Mosul and Kirkuk) were registered and were added to the ranks of the militias," Hewitt said, adding that they were also given money officially. He warned that registration may extend to other provinces "backed by Iranian agendas aiming to turn the war against Americans inside Iraq."
Trump in December visited Ayn al-Assad base in Anbar to meet with US troops just one day after Christmas, a visit which was considered by some of the political parties believed to be loyal to Tehran as violating diplomatic norms.
Head of the Shiite Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq Qais al-Khazali condemned the visit and threatened to expel the US troops from Iraq either by law or by another method.
"The response of the Iraqis will be [translated to a] decision of the Parliament to remove your military forces in spite of you and if you do not come out, we have the experience and the ability to remove them in another way known by your forces who were humiliated and forced to get out in 2011," Khazali stated.
Welcoming US presence
The Arab tribes in the disputed areas welcome the American presence, considering it a barrier against Iranian intervention in Iraq and the return of ISIS.
Iranian Militias in Iraq and Syria's (IMIS) Mahmoud al-Mardi, said that his group will target US bases and facilities in Anbar and other provinces if Washington announce the presence of its troops in Iraq.
While the US tries to designate Iraq as independent from Iranian influence, Zarif said that Iranian firms should have a key role in rebuilding Iraq after the fight against ISIS.
Obviously trying to drive a wedge between the US and Iraq, Tehran's top diplomat spoke to a number of IMIS commanders in a rare meeting with Iraqi paramilitary units, during which he said that Iraqis are the ones who defeated ISIS not the US.
"The world has realized the truth – that the US wasn't the one who defeated Daesh (ISIS). You were, and that's why they exerted pressure on you and on us," he told gathered commanders in Persian.
Many IMIS factions receive military and political support from Iran. Some commanders have been blacklisted by the US, which also re-imposed tough sanctions on Iran last year after pulling out of an international deal on Tehran's nuclear program.