English Al-Arabiya, By Hamid Bahrami
Wednesday, 19 July 2017
“I announce from here the end and failure and the collapse of the terrorist state of falsehood and terrorism which the terrorist Da’esh (ISIS) announced from Mosul,” the Iraqi Prime Minister declared on state television recently.
Based on the realities on the ground, it is no exaggeration that the regime in Tehran has the last word in Iraq and the IRGC controls some part of the current Iraqi government
Direct dependence on Tehran
Despite this direct dependence on Tehran, the PMU has been incorporated in Iraq’s armed forces. Muqtada al-Sadr, an influential Shii’te cleric who Lead one of the PMU's groups, expressed his concern with this development in Iraq in an interview and said, “I can see that Iraq will be under the control of militia groups.”
He then demanded that security should be exclusively under the control of Iraqi army. The Iranian regime has long sought to create a safe corridor from Iran to Lebanon. Consequently, the existence of a domestic paramilitary force parallel to the traditional army in Iraq is crucial for the IRGC and Tehran’s plan for future of that country.
Due to the growing demand in the US Congress and the White House contemplating to designate the entire IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, the Iranian authorities, need a heavily-armed paramilitary force, such as the PMU, to keep the corridor safe and to achieve their goals in Iraq.
This is because the successful terror designation of the IRGC will limit the Iraqi government’s ability to cooperate and provide facilities to the Iranian regime. Hence at this stage after the defeat of ISIS, it is only the regime in Tehran who will profit and rip the benefits of the PMU’s existence.
In addition, the existence of a parallel paramilitary force with an extreme Shi’ite ideology will undermine the country’s constitution, as this militia will follow the politicians who support it rather than the country’s constitution or the government.
In this case, the Iranian regime is trying to replicate its creation of Hezbollah in Lebanon and strives to establish a similarly trustworthy paramilitary force in Iraq in order to take control and dominate the Iraqi politics in favor of its agenda.
It is true that there are disagreements among the militia groups, which form the PMU about the destructive and destabilizing actions of the IRGC. But the Iranian regime will try to bribe or eliminate any influential clerics or opposition, if this proves to be necessary.
Another reason for the Iranian regime increasing its intervention in Iraq today is the upcoming Iraqi elections. If the Islamic Dawa Party with the former Iranian-backed PM, Nouri al-Maliki, loses that elections to some other politicians like the progressive Shi’ite voice Ayad Allawi, the IRGC’s corridor will be threatened.
Unchallenged, the commander of IRGC’s Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani will use the PMU to tilt the upcoming elections in Iraq to Tehran’s favor and secure the outcome that the regime in Iran prefers.
So, what is the solution to prevent a new sectarian war in Iraq? As long as the Iranian regime and its proxies are allowed to continue their destructive role in Iraq, Iraqi people will never see peace.
Based on the realities on the ground, it is no exaggeration that the regime in Tehran has the last word in Iraq and the IRGC controls some part of the current Iraqi government.
However, the Iraqi government must now dissolve and dismantle the PMU, effectively, cutting off IRGC’s hand in Iraq. This is particularly important following the defeat of ISIS in Iraq.
It also needs to reconstruct the Iraqi army based on national interests and to run an independent foreign policy. The West and the Arab countries should push the Iraqi government towards this direction otherwise Iraq will be offered to the regime in Tehran in a silver plate.