Disapproving Of General Soleimani's Role In Iraq, Iran-Affiliated Iraqi Street Gang Threatens To Kill Top Advisor To Iraqi Prime Minister, Accuses Him Of Being An 'American Agent'

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January 6, 2021

 

 

On January 4, 2020, Telegram channels affiliated with Iran-backed militias in Iraq posted responses to a BBC televised report that marked the first anniversary of the U.S. airstrike that killed Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, on January 3, 2020.

The report, which included an interview with Hosham Dawood, the top advisor of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, prompted a series of death threats against him, after he told the BBC that the assassination of Soleimani and Al-Muhandis weakened the Iran-backed militias in Iraq, and suggested that these militias are now facing internal splits and are unable to fill the shoes of the two assassinated leaders.[1]

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Highlighting the Iraqi government's efforts to curtail Iranian influence in Iraq following the assassination of Soleimani, Dawood said that Ismael Qaani, Iran's new commander of the IRGC's Quds Force, unlike his predecessor Soleimani, who would "enter and leave Iraq whenever he wanted", is required to "obtain an Iraqi visa before he visits Iraq."

Dawood explained that under the current government of Al-Kadhimi, all of Qaani's visits to the country were coordinated with the Iraqi state and were conducted according to diplomatic norms. 

In his assessment of Soleimani, the top advisor to the Iraqi Prime Minister elaborated that Soleimani was keen to protect Iran's interests, not Iraq's.  "Soleimani, who [was] an Iranian national, felt that his responsibility in Iraq is superior and more significant, compared with others [Iraqi officials]. Thus, the interests of the Iraqi state [were] not among his priorities." 

Dawood's remarks came amid simmering tensions as thousands of supporters of Iran-backed militias staged protests across the country to mark the first anniversary of Soleimani and Al-Muhandis' killing, vowing to avenge them.

On January 5, Jabaht Abu Jedaha (The Cigarette Lighter Front,) a street gang affiliated with Iran-backed militias, posted on its Telegram channel a photo of Dawood with an X on his forehead, a sign these militias often use to indicate their next target. Along with the photo, the group shared a post in which it addressed Dawood directly, threatening to kill him and reminding him that the group's members were previously involved in the storming and torching of the Baghdad offices of Dijla TV, owned by Jamal Al-Kurboli, back in August 2020.

"A clear message, clear as Soleimani's courage: To the bastard, Hosham Dawood, advisor to the Prime Minister of scums [Mustafa Al-Kadhimi]. You have become a legitimate target for the members of Jabhat Abu Jidaha and your fate will be like the fate of Dijla [TV station] owned by Al-Karbouli.[2]

Raba' Allah (Allah's Guys), another Shi'ite street gang affiliated with Iran-backed militias in Iraq, released a statement on its Telegram channel in which it called Dawood "lecherous" and "loyal to the Americans."[3]

"Some people are known for their loyalty to the Americans, and for spreading lies among Iraqis[.] The most recent among these is the lecherous Hosham Dawood, who gave false statements to a British radio [station] regarding the martyr General Qassem Soleimani. Hence, we wish to explain to our dear people that the so-called Hosham Dawood holds a foreign nationality, not an Iraqi one, granted to him by a foreign state for his service to its scheme in Iraq. We in Raba' Allah declare that we shall not hesitate to defend Iraq's guest, Haj Qassem Soleimani, who had presented his services to Iraqi people. We have allocated rewards to be given to anyone who will scold and expose this nonentity drunkard and his scheme, which he is working on with head of his government in Iraq; we will not sit idly in face of this insult to our great martyr [Soleimani] and will punish this agent at the suitable time," said the statement.

Likewise, Fatemiyoun Electronic Team, a cyber team affiliated with Iran-backed militias in Iraq, announced that it is prepared to collaborate with "our brothers in the Jabaht Abu Jeddahah and with Raba' Allah to deter the thugs and their masters who are spreading lies about our heroes."[4]

Following these threats, Iraqi media reported that Dawood issued an apology in which he explained that his remarks to the BBC were personal and do not represent the views of the Iraqi government.[5]

Local reports also claimed that in response to these threats, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi suspended Dawood, who was also in charge of investigating human rights abuses committed by militias against Iraqi protesters.[6]

The threats made against Dawood suggest a spike in the tension between the Iraqi government and Iraqi Iran-backed militias. On December 27, 2020, a Kata'ib Hezbollah leader threatened Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi for the arrest of a militia fighter affiliated with Asa'ib Ahal Al-Haq (AAH) who was believed to be involved in rocket attacks on U.S. targets inside Iraq. "We call on Al-Kadhimi not to test the patience of the resistance after today, as the time is very appropriate to cut off his ears, like the ears of a goat," Al-Askari said.

 

[1] YouTube.com/watch?v=o4LaeopnYOk, January 3, 2021.

[2] Telegram, Abu_jedaha, January 5, 2021.

[3] Telegram, Rab1_allah, January 5, 2021.

[4] Telegram, Hakc9, January 5, 2021.

[5] Alalamtv.net, January 5, 2021

[6] Alhurra.com, January 5, 2021.

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