Terrorism

Pro-Iran militias' conditional ceasefire in Iraq worthless: analyst

By Faris al-Omran

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An apartment building in Baghdad's Green Zone was damaged by a Katyusha rocket  aimed at the US embassy on September 16th. [Photo via "Baghdad" Facebook page]

The "conditional ceasefire" that prominent Iran-backed factions in Iraq announced Sunday (October 11th) has "no value" and only serves to confirm their responsibility for targeting US and foreign interests in the country, an Iraqi analyst told Diyaruna.

A group of armed factions have agreed to a temporary halt of attacks on US interests in Baghdad on the condition that Washington presents a timetable for a withdrawal of its forces, Kataib Hizbullah spokesman Mohammed Mohie said.

Mohie said he spoke on behalf of the Iraqi Resistance Co-ordination Commission, a new body that announced itself with a similar statement Saturday. The commission is believed to be a front for the most prominent pro-Iran factions, including Kataib Hizbullah, Asaib Ahl al-Haq and al-Nujaba.

Around 90 rocket attacks have targeted the US in Iraq since January, including its forces housed in Iraqi bases and its embassy in Baghdad's high-security Green Zone.

Kataib Hizbullah, the most radical of the Iran-backed factions, has consistently been blamed by Washington for the attacks.

But other smaller and newer groups, which experts say are just a smokescreen to deflect attention from the more powerful militias, have taken responsibility for the strikes including one targeting a logistics convoy heading to a US base on Sunday in Diwaniyah, in the country's south.

Admission of responsibility

Kataib Hizbullah's talk of a conditional truce "is of no value, as this group and all other Iran-backed militias have no credibility, and no statements by their leaders are to be taken seriously", Iraqi journalist and political analyst Ziad al-Sinjari told Diyaruna.

This is evidenced by the Sunday attack in Diwaniyah despite the "truce" announcement, he said.

"These factions only seek to violate Iraq's sovereignty in order to satisfy Iran," he said, adding that the attacks "have brought death and terror to peaceful citizens in their homes" and demonstrate a lack of respect for the rule of law.

The truce announcement is an explicit admission of Kataib Hizbullah's responsibility for the attacks, after they had previously denied it, al-Sinjari added.

US troops' withdrawal

Washington has threatened to close its embassy in Iraq unless the rockets stop.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry on Thursday said it has formed a committee that will co-ordinate with the US to develop a timeline for the withdrawal of US troops from the country.

The establishment of the committee follows a series of meetings between US and Iraqi officials over the summer.

In August, Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhemi traveled to Washington for talks with US President Donald Trump, and a three-year timeline was established for the US withdrawal.

Meanwhile on Thursday, the US shut down Kataib Hizbullah's website with a "seizure warrant" message from the Commerce Department emblazoned on its page.

Earlier in the week, the al-Etejah and al-Nujaba media channels were also blocked by the US government. They are channels for factions composed of Iraqi fighters armed and financed by Iran.

Is the Iraqi government countering terrorism effectively?
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