Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 3 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 1/2/20

A New Year and a New Trump Foreign Policy Blunder in Iraq

By       (Page 1 of 3 pages) (View How Many People Read This)   3 comments
Author 3852
Message Medea Benjamin
Become a Fan
  (29 fans)

By Medea Benjamin and *Nicolas J S Davies

US Embassy in Iraq under siege.
US Embassy in Iraq under siege.
(Image by Credit: Creative Commons)
  Details   DMCA

It's a new year, and the U.S. has found a new enemy -- an Iraqi militia called Kata'ib Hezbollah. How tragically predictable was that? So who or what is Kata'ib Hezbollah? Why are U.S. forces attacking it? And where will this lead?

Kata'ib Hezbollah is one of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) that were recruited to fight the Islamic State after the Iraqi armed forces collapsed and Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, fell to IS in June 2014. The first six PMUs were formed by five Shiite militias that all received support from Iran, plus Muqtada al-Sadr's Iraqi nationalist Peace Company, the reincarnation of his anti-occupation Mahdi Army militia, which he had previously disarmed in 2008 under an agreement with the Iraqi government.

Kata'ib Hezbollah was one of those five original Shiite militias and it existed long before the fight against IS. It was a small Shiite group founded before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, and was part of the Iraqi Resistance throughout the U.S. occupation. In 2011, it reportedly had 1,000 fighters, who were paid $300 to $500 per month, probably mainly funded by Iran. It fought fiercely until the last U.S. occupation forces were withdrawn in December 2011, and claimed responsibility for a rocket attack that killed five U.S. soldiers in Baghdad in June 2011. Since forming a PMU in 2014, its leader, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, has been the overall military commander of the PMUs, reporting directly to the National Security Adviser in the Prime Minister's office.

In the fight against IS, the PMUs proliferated quickly. Most political parties in Iraq responded to a fatwa by Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani to form and join these units by forming their own. At the peak of the war with IS, the PMUs comprised about 60 brigades with hundreds of thousands of Shia fighters, and even included up to 40,000 Sunni Iraqis.

In the context of the war against the Islamic State, the U.S. and Iran have both provided a great deal of military support to the PMU and other Iraqi forces, and the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga have also received support from Iran. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif in New York in September 2014 to discuss the crisis, and U.S. Ambassador Stuart Jones said in December 2014, "Let's face it, Iran is an important neighbor to Iraq. There has to be cooperation between Iran and Iraq. The Iranians are talking to the Iraqi security forces and we're talking to Iraqi security forces... We're relying on them to do the deconfliction."

U.S. officials and corporate media are falsely painting Kata'ib Hezbollah and the PMUs as independent, renegade Iranian-backed militias in Iraq but they are really an official part of the Iraq security forces. As a statement from the Iraqi prime minister's office made clear, the U.S. airstrikes were an "American attack on the Iraqi armed forces." And these were not just any Iraqi military forces, but forces that have borne the brunt of some of the fiercest fighting against the Islamic State.

Open hostility between U.S. forces and Kata'ib Hezbollah began six months ago, when the U.S. allowed Israel to use U.S. bases in Iraq and/or Syria to launch drone strikes against Kata'ib Hezbollah and other PMU forces in Iraq. There are conflicting reports on exactly where the Israeli drones were launched from, but the U.S. had effective control of Iraqi airspace and was clearly complicit in the drone strikes. This led to a campaign by Shia cleric/politician Muqtada al-Sadr and other anti-occupation parties and politicians in the Iraqi National Assembly to once again call for the expulsion of U.S. forces from Iraq, as they successfully did in 2011, and the U.S. was forced to accept new restrictions on its use of Iraqi airspace.

Then, at the end of October, U.S. bases and the Green Zone in Baghdad came under a new wave of rocket and mortar attacks. While previous attacks were blamed on the Islamic State, the U.S. blamed the new round of attacks on Kata'ib Hezbollah. After a sharp increase in rocket attacks on U.S. bases in December, including one that killed a U.S. military contractor on December 27, the Trump administration launched air strikes on December 29 that killed 25 members of Kata'ib Hezbollah and wounded 55. Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi called the strikes a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and declared three national days of mourning for the Iraqi troops that U.S. forces killed.

Next Page  1  |  2  |  3

 

Must Read 2   Well Said 2   Valuable 2  
Rate It | View Ratings

Medea Benjamin Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Medea Benjamin is the cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace and author of Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the US-Saudi Connection. 

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Ten Reasons to Move Cheney's Book to the Crime Section

Tom Cotton is the Worst Bully in the Senate ---- Here Are 10 Reasons Why

Hillary Clinton and Saudi Arabia

The Egyptian General and the Gladiola

Dear Jon Stewart, Sane People Protest Crazy Wars

Julian Assange: Wikileaks Has the Goods on the Deaths of Innocent Iraqis Killed by the US

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

3 people are discussing this page, with 3 comments

nelswight

Become a Fan
Author 2581
(Member since Sep 3, 2006), 3 fans, 938 comments (How many times has this commenter been recommended?)
Not paid member and Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Not paid member and Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

  New Content

Wonderfully well expressed, Medea!

Submitted on Thursday, Jan 2, 2020 at 9:23:21 PM

  Recommend  (0+)
Help

Lance Ciepiela

Become a Fan
Author 14196
Follow Me on Twitter (Member since Apr 4, 2008), 53 fans, 58 articles, 163 quicklinks, 4755 comments, 214 diaries (How many times has this commenter been recommended?)
Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

  New Content

There was Obama (#PolicyBlunder - 'failed' to 'investigate 9/11'), Holder, Pelosi, then Trump (#PolicyBlunder - 'failed' to 'investigate 911'), Barr, Pelosi - neither has brought W Bush to justice under our laws and treaties for his unprovoked, preemptive war of aggression on Iraq. Their 'blunder' in not upholding our laws and treaties means that W Bush is quite effectively 'above the law' in a 'nation of laws' (e.g., "they acted with deceit and with falsehood") - not a very good prognosis at all for the prospects of 'law and order', 'justice', and the 'rule of law' for presidents and their administrations in the United States as the decades began to fly by in 2020 in the 21st Century.

Submitted on Thursday, Jan 2, 2020 at 10:11:53 PM

  Recommend  (0+)
Help

Mohammad Ala

Become a Fan
Author 8028
(Member since Oct 1, 2007), 10 fans, 25 articles, 40 quicklinks, 1106 comments, 1 diaries (How many times has this commenter been recommended?)
Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

  New Content

Thanks Medea for your understanding of the situations.

Assassinations will NOT solve the regional problems, respect for international laws and order will solve regional problems.

Submitted on Friday, Jan 3, 2020 at 4:22:09 PM

  Recommend  (1+)
Help