The US wants to destabilize Iraq and is involved in a pro-ISIS conspiracy to bring extremists from Syria, an Iraqi parliament member said over the weekend.
The US leads the anti-ISIS Coalition, trains Iraqi forces and has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to help defeat ISIS in Iraq. Pro-Iranian voices in the region regularly accuse the US of having created or supported ISIS.
Karim Alawi, a member of the Iraqi parliament’s security and defense committee, made the statements in an in a recent interview, according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency. The US was going to bring “more than 1,000 terrorists from Syria to Iraq through gaps in our borders and airspace,” he said.
Alawi relied on reports that Iraq was going to resettle Iraqi families currently in Syria who allegedly traveled there to support ISIS. “Information shows that most terrorists have been coming with their families in recent months,” he said.
Alawi made his comments amid increasing tensions with the US. The US carried out airstrikes on Iraqi pro-Iranian militias in December. It killed Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani on January 3 along with an Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Iraq militias have fired rockets at US forces in Iraq, and pro-Iranians want the US to leave the country. The Iraqi Shi’ite paramilitary group Nujaba released a photo threatening US forces over the weekend, saying the countdown to remove the Americans is coming.
Alawi has supported Iraq buying Russia’s S-400s and slammed the US before. The US had a plan to attack Hashd al-Shaabi (PMU) bases in Iraq in 2018, he said. The Hashd is a group of pro-Iranian paramilitaries.
Mohammed Karim, a member of the Fatah Alliance, which is led by Hadi al-Amiri of the Iran-linked Badr Organization, also slammed the US “plans” to create unrest and fitna, or “strife and sedition.”
Karim is a longtime critic of the US in Iraq. The US plan for Iraq is “ominous,” and it wants to co-opt tribal areas of the Nineveh plains and somehow place them into the hands of ISIS again, he has said.
“The US is working with some minority political parties to create new tribal and ethnic groups to remove them from Nineveh plains,” Karim said. “The US goal is removing the Hashd brigades from these areas to resume the activities of ISIS gangs,so that the US can continue to realize its goal of keeping US troops here.”
In this convoluted conspiracy, the US works with minorities in Nineveh to encourage them to flee so that the PMU can be urged to leave, which creates a vacuum for ISIS, allowing the US to stay in Iraq to fight ISIS. This conspiracy theory builds on reports that Christian communities in Nineveh are unhappy with the checkpoints set up by the PMU-backed Hashd al-Shebek units of Shi’ite Shebek minorities.
There have been calls for Badr and other PMU groups that support the Shebeks to withdraw from Nineveh. Nineveh plains was once the center of Christian minorities and a mosaic of other groups such as Kurds, Yazidis and Turkmen. It was a gem of Iraq but was ruined by ISIS. The reconstruction era since 2017 has seen emergence of ISIS cells and a crackdown by militias. The US has Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFAB) units in Nineveh to assist the Iraqis and Kurdish Peshmerga and to defeat ISIS around Mount Qarachogh.
But for the pro-Iran voices in Baghdad, the conspiracy is that the US wants to “divide Iraq into several clans based on race and ethnicity,” Karim has said.
Ahmed al-Kanani is an MP linked to the Sadiqoun group, which is the political wing of Asaib Ahl al-Haq and part of the Fatah Alliance. He has accused pro-Western Shi’ites who took refuge in the Kurdistan region of conspiring against Iraq and endangering Iraq’s security. The Fatah Alliance, which is run by al-Amiri of Badr and represents the PMU’s interests in parliament, says it will work against these other Shi’ites, according to Tasnim.
The report has all the ingredients of the usual pro-Iranian media rumors. Conspiracies linking the US to ISIS, conspiracies claiming the US will divide Iraq and allegations against minorities, Kurds and “westernized” Shi’ites. This is the toxic mix that those linked to the Hashd and Iran push in Iraqi and Iranian media.