As Iran-Backed Militia Pressure Iraqi Government To Expel U.S. Forces, Head Of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) Meets With Russian Ambassador To Discuss Bilateral Cooperation

February 1, 2024

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On February 1, 2024, local media outlets in Iraq reported that Falah Al-Fayadh, the Head of the Iraqi government-sponsored Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), whose members include several Iran-backed militias, received the Russian ambassador to Baghdad in his office. The ambassador was accompanied by other Russian diplomats.[1]

Reports provided straightforward coverage of the meeting, saying the meeting focused on "the situation in the region, and means of strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries."

For more about Russia's relations with Iran-backed groups, see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1723 – As Hamas Visits Its 'Closest Friend' Moscow, Questions Surround Russia's Knowledge Of, Involvement In October 7 Hamas Attack: A Review Of Russia-Hamas Ties and Strategic Relationship. 

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One Of A Series Of Meetings

Since his appointment as Russia's top diplomat in Baghdad in May 2021, [2] Elbrus Kotrashev has held several meetings in the past with Al-Fayadh, the last of which was on September 7, 2023.[3]

According to local media, in September 2019, Al-Fayadh visited Moscow to discuss the purchase of the S-400 system, "to rid Iraq of American hegemony over Iraqi airspace, and repel external aggression. "[4]

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Iraq Eyes Russia's S-400 Air Defense System

Iraqi media also reported that in August 2019, the Chairman of the Defense and Security Committee of the Russian Federation Council, Viktor Bondarev, announced that several countries, including Iraq, were considered among the potential purchasers of Russia's S-400 air defense missile system.[5]

Today's meeting between Al-Fayadh and Kotrashev comes amid unprecedented escalation of violence by Iran-backed militias in Iraq. In the past few months, the militias have claimed hundreds of attacks on U.S. bases in the region, launched in support of the Hamas October 7 assault on Israel.

It coincides with recent efforts of the Iraqi militias to pressure the Iraqi government to expel U.S. forces from Iraq.


[1] Alahadnews, February 1, 2024.

[2] Shafaq, June 26, 2021.

[3] Nnciraq, September 7, 2022.

[4] Independent Arabia, July 22, 2021.

[5] Independent Arabia, July 22, 2021.

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