The pro-Iranian Shi’ite militia Kata’ib Hezbollah slammed the US-backed Bahrain conference on Tuesday evening in a statement provided to Iraqi media.
Standing in line with Tehran’s condemnations of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, the Iraqi group said that it was important to stand with the Palestinian people against the “Arab rulers who serve the Zionist entity and the ‘Deal of the Century.’”
Kata’ib Hezbollah became prominent after the US invasion of Iraq as an Iranian-linked militia opposed to America’s presence there. Led by Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis – who had served with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and is accused by the US of being a terrorist behind a 1983 attack on embassies in Kuwait – the group has fought in Iraq and in Syria. In 2018, it was targeted by an air strike in Syria near the border with Iraq, which the group blamed on the US.
The statement on Tuesday evening, after the Bahrain conference had gotten under way, said that the “Islamic resistance brigades” bashed Gulf Arab states and their monarchs, and they will “burn in shame and dig their own graves.”
The statement was posted as tweets at Al-Etejah TV, which is known to be linked to Shi’ite paramilitaries in Iraq. The statement said that the “throne of the Gulf rulers has collapsed and they have linked their fate with the Zionists.” It attacked the “Wahhabis” in Saudi Arabia, who it said had sold out the Palestinians.
“The Palestinian cause and confrontation with the Zionists cannot be [successful] without removing the Muslim leaders of the Gulf who have become American instruments,” read the statement, and it compared the Gulf rulers to “Mamluks,” an apparent reference to the Gulf powers being “slaves,” a term that is also used for the Mamluk sultanate that once ruled Egypt.
Shi’ite paramilitaries played a key role in the war on ISIS, and their supporters make up the second-largest party in Iraq’s parliament. Often called the Popular Mobilization Units or Hashd al-Shaabi, they became an official government force in 2018.
Many of their groups, such as Kata’ib Hezbollah, have been designated at terrorists by the US. Washington labeled the IRGC a terrorist group earlier this year.
Kata’ib Hezbollah has previously threatened US forces in Iraq, and says that a clash with them might come at any time. Most recently in February, they threatened American forces again in statements. Rocket attacks targeted areas with new US forces and personnel in Baghdad in May, and in Camp Taji, Balad Air Base, Mosul and Basra in mid-June.
The Bahrain conference, attended by senior US officials as well as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries, has been condemned by Iran as a betrayal.