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Iranian-backed militias in Iraq push their gains on July 4

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Iranian-backed groups in Iraq are pushing their gains after having humiliated the prime minister last week. Their goal now in Iraq is to push for what they call “sovereignty” and get the US to leave.

The US has forces in Iraq to fight ISIS as part of the international Coalition. On July 4, US Independence Day, mysterious explosions were heard in Baghdad.

The Iranian-backed militias, all of which are part of the government’s security forces called Popular Mobilization Units, have been increasingly expressing anger at the US and Saudi Arabia and Israel. They appear to want to dictate Iraq’s foreign policy.


As such one of their officials, Qasim al-Ariji has been appointed to the position of National Security Advisor after having run the Interior Ministry. The Interior Ministry is led by members of the Badr Organization, one of the pro-Iranian groups.


Overall there is much left for these militias to secure in terms of power. They have been on the back foot for half a year due to protests and uncertainty. They also suffered setbacks due to US airstrikes. But they want to push things to a head with the US and members of Kataib Hezbollah have carried out rocket attacks on US forces.

Now, in the context of US-Iran tensions and Iraq’s uncertain future, it appears that these groups want to slowly push their role increasingly on the Prime Minister. He failed to detain and prosecute members of Kataib Hezbollah detained last month and then released.


This may have been a key moment when he wanted to test how they would respond. The Prime Minister is Mustafa Kadhimi, a former activist and intelligence chief. But he is isolated with Iraq suffering Covid-19 and economic challenges as well as a Turkish invasion in northern Iraq. Balancing all these issues is leaving Baghdad unable to push a clear foreign policy.

The government wants to secure the borders and end the ISIS insurgency as well as reassert itself. There are signs of hope, with reconstruction in Mosul and other areas.

But there are also many pieces of evidence that show that Iranian-backed groups can, at a moments notice, do as they please.
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