One of the most powerful and deadly Shiite militias in Iraq has vowed to attack American troops fighting the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).
Never mind that the militia’s enemy is also ISIS. In the tangled web of the Middle East, the “enemy of my enemy” is not necessarily my friend, but more likely my enemy.
Especially when Iran is added to the equation. Asaib Ahl al-Haq, the militia in question, is controlled and funded by Iran. The militia, whose name means “League of the Righteous,” is under the direct supervision of Qassem Suleimani, a leading general of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Force, answerable only to the ayatollah, Iran’s “supreme leader,” himself.
The militia announced on its television network al-Ahd, "If the U.S. administration doesn't withdraw its forces immediately, we will deal with them as forces of occupation."
U.S. Marines have deployed in Iraq to assist Iraqi forces preparing to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city that fell to the Islamic State in the summer of 2014. Their presence was revealed when a rocket attack over the weekend killed an American who was part of a Marine Expeditionary Unit stationed to provide artillery support for Iraqi troops.
The statement by the militia continued, "The forces of occupation are making a new suspicious attempt to restore their presence in the country under the pretext of fighting their own creation, Daesh [ISIS]."
It continued menacingly, “The occupation’s coward soldiers should understand that however protective their vehicles are, these vehicles will become an obstacle for them and they will burn to death inside them.”
Threats by the militia should be taken seriously. In the aftermath of the Iraq war to topple Saddam Hussein, the group launched over 6,000 attacks on U.S. forces between 2006 and 2011.
But their real bosses should be called out. Since signing the nuclear agreement with the world’s powers, Iran has engaged in a provocative cat-and-mouse game with the U.S. – from capturing and humiliating American soldiers to forbidden ballistic-missile tests (the last featuring the words “Israel must be wiped out” written on the missile, during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel).
America’s ill-thought out strategy to “contain” Iran’s nuclear program, which included releasing billions of dollars to the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, has not brought the Islamic Republic into the “community of nations” as was hoped. Rather, it has emboldened its hegemonic ambitions.
This latest provocation is just one example of many that are certain to come with increasing deadliness.
Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org