Tags: Iran | Iraq | War on Terrorism | America | supports | Shiite | militias

Eli Lake: With US Help, Tehran's Militias Take Over Iraqi Army

By    |   Wednesday, 04 Feb 2015 08:32 PM

In the fight against ISIS, it has become increasingly difficult to determine where the Iraqi Army ends and Iranian-supported Shiite militias begin, Bloomberg's Eli Lake reports from Iraq.

The Obama Administration's official policy is to support Iraqi forces against ISIS while using the Iraqi military to absorb Shiite militias as well. But in practice, U.S. forces appear to have become involved with Shiite militias allied with Iran in a desperate battle to beat back the ISIS advance that has occurred over the past seven to eight months.

Lake reports that in an interview this week, Hadi al-Amiri – founder and leader of the Badr Organization, Iraq's most powerful Shiite militia – claimed the U.S. ambassador recently offered air strikes to support the Iraqi army and militia ground forces he commands.

This has put Washington "in the strange position of deepening an alliance with the Islamic Republic of Iran for its war against Islamic extremists," Lake writes.

Amiri founded the Badr Corps in Iran in 1982. It later changed its name to the Badr Organization. Although it has cooperated with U.S. forces since Saddam's ouster in 2003, Badr has longstanding ties to Iran's Revolutionary Guards and their elite Quds Force.

Amiri said he meets with the head of the force, Qassem Soleimani, whenever he visits Baghdad.  According to Amiri, Soleimani’s experience in fighting ISIS was invaluable. "No country has experience like Iran in dealing with terrorists," he said about the country the State Department regards as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.

Amiri said that Lebanon’s Hezbollah organization has taught Badr important lessons learned from fighting Israel and Sunni jihadists in Lebanon and Syria.

"One might think Amiri is exactly the kind of person U.S. policy makers would seek to marginalize as it attempts to rebuild an Iraqi army that will help unify a country divided along sectarian lines," Lake wrote. "But Amiri told me that late last month he met with U.S. ambassador Stuart Jones at his home, where the ambassador made the offer of U.S. air support to his ground campaign."

Amiri said he declined the ambassador's offer out of concern that U.S. planes would mistakenly bomb his forces.

When contacted by Lake, U.S. officials would neither confirm nor deny Amiri's specific assertion that U.S. assistance had been offered.

Michael Flynn, who until last year served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said the prospect of U.S. air power supporting the Badr Organization would put the U.S. in a "very delicate alliance with Iran."

"Members of the Badr Corps are responsible for killing many American soldiers and they will likely do it again if given the chance," Flynn told Lake. "We built an Iraqi military to defeat all the enemies of Iraq and groups like the Badr Corps represent enemies of a stable, secure, and inclusive Iraq. As soon as we get done helping them with ISIS, they will very likely turn on us."

Yet U.S. air strikes have backed Shiite militias and Iranian trainers. Last summer, U.S. pilots supported a ground campaign which included Iranian-backed militias in ending the ISIS siege at Amirli, a highway town north of Baghdad.

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In the fight against ISIS, it has become increasingly difficult to determine where the Iraqi Army ends and Iranian-supported Shiite militias begin, Bloomberg's Eli Lake reports from Iraq. The Obama Administration's official policy is to support Iraqi forces against ISIS...
America, supports, Shiite, militias, Iran, Hadi al-Amiri, Badr
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2015-32-04
Wednesday, 04 Feb 2015 08:32 PM
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