January 21, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8512

Iraqi Shi'ite Militias Threaten Iraqi President With Expulsion If He Meets With President Trump In Davos

January 21, 2020
Iraq | Special Dispatch No. 8512

On January 21, 2020, leaders of the Iraqi Shi'ite Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) threatened to expel Iraqi President Barham Saleh from Baghdad, should he meet with U.S. President Donald Trump, or any of his aides, during the upcoming World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The threats come a day after the White House announced that President Trump will be meeting on the sidelines of the economic forum with several world leaders including his Iraqi counterpart. The meeting would be the first between a U.S. official and Iraqi official since the escalation between Washington and Iran erupted following the assassination of Qassem Soleimani. 

This report will examine the threats to Iraqi President Saleh made by two PMU groups.

In response to the news of the proposed meeting, Hizballah Brigades military chief, Abu 'Ali Al-'Askari, tweeted: "We stress the requirement for Barham Saleh not to meet with Trump, the fool, or his gang of killers who will be accompanying him. If he meets with them, Iraqis will take a stance against him, because he will be opposing the will of the people and ignoring the noble blood, which this gang spilled. We will tell him in that case; You are not welcome, and the free-men of our people will expel him from Baghdad, the city of pride and dignity."[1]


Likewise, Al-Nujaba' Movement, another PMU group, issued a statement echoing the same warning. The statement opens with a verse from the Quran that reads "Those who take disbelievers as allies instead of the believers. Do they seek with them honor [through power]? But indeed, honor belongs to Allah entirely." [Surah Al-Nisa (4:139)]


The statement highlights that "Iraqis are still mourning their martyrs who fell at the hands of the Americans while they are getting ready to take part in the one-million-man march to expel the U.S. occupying forces and condemn its repeated crimes."[2]

It adds "we hear that the Iraqi president intends to meet with the head of American evil, Trump, on the sidelines of Davos Summit. We are astonished, how can someone who represents Iraq, its people, and parliament, all of whom decide to expel the occupiers, sit with the president of an occupier who refuses to pull out his troops." 

The statement reminds Saleh of the blood of PMU fighters who were killed in U.S. airstrikes in Amerli, Qa'im, Salahuddin, and near Baghdad airport, saying that "meeting with the murderer Trump by any Iraqi official is considered a violation of Iraqi social values and principles," and a "mockery of the Iraqi people's agony and pain caused by the American duplicity."   

It further warns that meeting with U.S. officials will be "in defiance of the decision of the Iraqi parliament to expel the U.S. troops from Iraq."[3]

The statement concludes by calling on the Iraqi president to take a brave, historical, and patriotic stance by rejecting to meet with this "fool," warning him at the same time that if he meets with President Trump, he will face consequences.

"If Allah forbid, you overlooked this [warning], Iraq and its people will not accept this decision and will not welcome someone who extended his hands to criminals and terrorists whose hands are stained with the blood of Iraqis, such as the criminals Trump, Netanyahu, and others. The people will make sure their words will be heard so listen to them."

Nas News,[4] an independent Iraqi news website, reported that the warning from the PMU leaders is the third such warning, saying that in mid-August 2019, a battalion belonging to Hezbollah Brigades stormed the Presidential palace and attempted to take it over.

The report further explains that in December 2019, drones believed to belong to Hezbollah Brigades circled over his presidential palace to pressure him into approving a pro-Iran candidate for the position of Prime Minister.

It is worth noting that President Saleh handed his resignation to parliament on December 26, 2019, after refusing to endorse a nominee for the position of prime minister from an Iran backed parties. Saleh said that he would rather step down than pick a new prime minister rejected by the demonstrators.


[1], January 21, 2020.

[4], January 21, 2020.

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