Iraq News

Iranian regime seeks to subvert Iraq: analysts

By Fares al-Omran

Iraqi members of the Iran-backed Sayyed al-Shuhada Brigade are seen here in an August 8th, 2017 photo that was posted online by the militia.

Iraqi members of the Iran-backed Sayyed al-Shuhada Brigade are seen here in an August 8th, 2017 photo that was posted online by the militia.

By funneling support to selected Iraqi militias and political parties, the Iranian regime has engaged in an aggressive effort to subvert Iraqi sovereignty so it can further its own agenda without resistance, experts said.

Through these actions, the Iranian regime is attempting to turn Iraq into a puppet state, they said.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has long served as "a tool of influence" for the Iranian regime, said political analyst Adel al-Ashram Ibn Ammar, chairman of al-Shimmar Syndicate of Tribal Intellectuals.

The IRGC is "active inside [Iran] as a repressive force", he told Diyaruna.

Since its inception, the IRGC has pledged to uphold the doctrine of Wilayat al-Faqih (Guardianship of the Jurist), which calls for allegiance to al-Wali al-Faqih -- Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei.

By promoting this doctrine outside Iran, the IRGC is attempting to impose Iranian hegemony, and takes an aggressive stance against the sovereignty of other countries, including Iraq, according to Iraqi monitors.

Growing resentment in Iraq

"The Iranian regime is allowing the IRGC to engage in destructive activity abroad with the goal of economically and politically weakening its neighbours, including Iraq, and undermining their sovereignty," Ibn Ammar said.

By engaging in this type of interference, the Iranian regime seeks to turn neighbouring powers "into fragile and fragmented states whose strings are easily pulled in any direction by the leaders of that regime", he added.

"There is growing popular resentment within Iraq towards the Iranian regime and its armed groups in Iraq that are wreaking havoc and committing acts of violence and oppression and systematic plundering of the country’s resources."

There also have been recent signs of "official resentment" in Iraq after two pro-Iran parliamentary blocs produced draft laws calling for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq, each setting a timetable for the withdrawal, he said.

This resentment was strongly evident with recent government announcements stating that Iraq does not want to engage in any regional tug-of-war game and that "it is committed to balanced relations with all countries", he added.

IRGC 'creating irregular forces'

Meanwhile, the IRGC's Quds Force (IRGC-QF), commanded by Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, has been grooming Iran-backed militias in Iraq and other countries in the region to serve Iran's strategic interests.

IRGC commander Mohammed Ali Jaafari has claimed there are 200,000 fighters in Iraqi and Syrian militias under his command, said Thaer al-Bayati, secretary-general of the Salaheddine Arab Tribal Council.

"This is an official confirmation that Tehran is involved in creating irregular forces outside its boundaries that take orders from the IRGC," he told Diyaruna.

These forces promote Iran's agenda, which aims to "threaten regional stability, support terrorism and sectarian strife and societal peace", he said. They also aim to get their hands on the resources of the countries in the region.

"The IRGC is using resources and capabilities that it is stealing from its own people and from other countries to feed its criminal activities through its proxies in Iraq," al-Bayati said.

These Iran-backed militias "are trying to tie the fate of their country with that of the Iranian regime and bring it under Iran’s tutelage", he added.

"These militias are deriving their strength from the Iranian regime, and have had an adverse effect on [Iraq's] security and sovereignty," he said. "They are committing crimes, stealing national resources and defying the law of the land."

The IRGC is "a main source of all the problems in Iraq and the region", strategy expert Rabie al-Jawari told Diyaruna.

"This terrorist militia is responsible for stirring unrest to take control of other countries, which is a goal of the Iranian regime," he said.

Outsized influence inside Iran

The IRGC is a powerful force inside Iran, and wields outsized influence in all of that country's official agencies and institutions, Iraqi analysts noted.

The IRGC also owns companies and has commercial and financial interests that reinforce its influence and help it suppress any attempt at popular mobilisation that could threaten the regime, they said.

The Basij paramilitary force, a component of the IRGC, has been used to suppress any internal activity the regime deems to be hostile, including popular protests calling for human rights and an improvement in living conditions.

"The IRGC funds itself from institutions and companies across a variety of sectors," Ibn Ammar said. "Most of the oil revenues and state budget goes to fund this militia and its hostile activity."

"The Iranian people only get the remaining crumbs from these revenues," he said. "They are suffering from dire conditions and placed under immense economic pressure as a result of the regime’s corruption."

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