Iraq News

Iraqi government seeks to limit IRGC influence

By Faris al-Omran

Iran-affiliated groups, such as Harakat al-Nujaba, are accused of engaging in extortion and smuggling operations that harm the Iraqi people. [Hassan Gallawe/Diyaruna]

Iran-affiliated groups, such as Harakat al-Nujaba, are accused of engaging in extortion and smuggling operations that harm the Iraqi people. [Hassan Gallawe/Diyaruna]

The Iraqi government has been taking active steps to limit the influence of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), analysts told Diyaruna.

This comes in response to the IRGC's strategy towards Iraq, they said, which is based on trying to weaken that country through the actions of Kataib Hizbullah and other proxy militias, including Badr Organisation and Asaib Ahl al-Haq.

Weakening Iraq will ensure it cannot reclaim its role as a stabilising force in the Middle East, they said.

The Iranian regime has adopted a policy of creating and supporting militias with money and weapons in order to protect its regional interests and agenda, political analyst Ahmed Shawqi told Diyaruna.

This harms Iraq's security and its economy, he said.

The IRGC's proxies damage Iraq's economy by engaging in harmful activities such as trying to protect corrupt officials from legal prosecution and engaging in extortion, he said.

Shawqi accused IRGC-affiliated militias of smuggling goods, drugs and weapons into the country from Iran "to rescue the Iranian economy and currency from collapse amid suffocating US sanctions under the maximum pressure campaign".

Through Kataib Hizbullah, the IRGC has undermined Iraq's sovereignty and security with attacks in Iraq, including those on Baghdad's Green Zone, he said.

"What Iran does not want is the emergence of a strong and prosperous Iraq that is a unique model in the region," he said. "This would damage Iran's interests and goals, which aim to weaken its neighbouring countries and drown the region in conflicts so it can dominate their resources and decision making-process."

Iraqis aware of militias' role

Iraqis are well aware of the role of Kataib Hizbullah and the other IRGC-affiliated militias, political analyst Adel al-Ashram told Diyaruna.

This has been evident in the chants and slogans used during the popular protests that express the Iraqi public's rejection of the IRGC's influence, he said.

Al-Ashram said the Iranian regime is a threat to Iraq and the region as a whole due to the disruptive activities through which it seeks to push its expansionist aspirations forward.

Calling on Iraqi authorities to put an end to Iran's interference, he said the Islamic Republic "is trying to fabricate external conflicts to protect itself and its power, and militias are its means for doing so".

In recent months, the Iraqi government has sought to limit the activities of IRGC-affiliated militias by cracking down on corrupt practices, monitoring border crossings and trying to remove militia influence in state institutions.

"Iraqi authorities are making efforts to confine weapons to Iraqi forces, restrict rogue groups and resist their efforts to create chaos and division," military expert Jalil Khalaf Shwayel told Diyaruna.

He said Iraqis stand with the government, and have begun to resent militiamen and their operations, which they perceive as being harmful to civil peace.

The Iraqi army is the main force against "unruly groups that try to thwart efforts to bring stability and prosperity to Iraq", he said.

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