Iranian ‘Supreme Leader’ Tells Iraqi PM Not to ‘Dissolve’ Shia Militia Accused of Kurdish Atrocities
Iran’s “supreme leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has urged the prime minister of the Iranian-backed Iraqi government in Baghdad not to dissolve a Shia militia accused of committing atrocities during the offensive against Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Iraq this month.
Khamenei told visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi that the Hashd al Shaabi paramilitary organization – trained and financed by the Iranians – was essential for the security of Iraq.
Kurdish broadcaster Kurdistan 24 quoted a source at the meeting who claimed that Khamenei had instructed al Abadi,“The Hashd al-Shaabi must not be dissolved.”
“The presence of the Hashd al-Shaabi is necessary until the end of all security problems in Iraq,” Khamenei told Abadi, according to the source.
The “supreme leader” then urged the Iraqis to follow the Iranian model in terms of their relationship with the militia – which has been described as the Iraqi equivalent of Iran’s Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah.
“The Hashd al-Shaabi must be like [Iran’s] Basij [Organization for Mobilization of the Oppressed] to the government, and the reward for all their efforts should not be dissolution,” Khamenei is reported to have said.
Abadi is said to have told the “supreme leader” that the US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, had assured him that President Donald Trump’s administration would continue to support the Federal Government of Iraq regarding issues with the Kurdistan Region. However, Abadi added that he had been feeling pressure from the US over the continued presence of Hashd al Shaabi terrorists in Kurdish areas.
Khamenei is said to have responded, “Unity is the most important tool against the terrorists and their agents. Do not trust America; it will hurt you in the future.”
Al Abadi has made no secret of his own support for Hashd al Shaabi. “The Hashd is from us and we are from them,” the Iraqi prime minister declared in July. “And the state is commanding the security system in order to preserve the security of the community.”
Meanwhile, Kurdish President Masoud Barzani announced on Sunday that he would not be extending his term but would carry on his campaign for Kurdish independence as a member of the Iraqi Kurdish fighting force, the Peshmerga.
“As a Peshmerga, among the people, and the dear Peshmergas, I will continue the struggle for achieving the rights of our nation and preserving its achievements,” Barzani said in a statement.
Nearly 93 percent of voters opted for a sovereign state of Kurdistan in a September 25 independence referendum carried out in Iraqi Kurdistan. Hashd al Shaabi’s military offensive began shortly afterwards.