Calling Harakat Hizbollah al-Nujaba (Movement of the Noble of the Party of God) an “Iranian proxy group,” the State Department named Nujaba and its leader, Akram Abbas al-Kabi, an Iraqi cleric, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs), while the Treasury Department announced sanctions on them.
Nujaba claims to have some 10,000 fighters. It was first formed in 2013, under Iranian auspices, to support the regime of Bashar al-Assad in the early years of the Syrian civil war. In 2014, when the so-called Islamic State overran one-third of Iraq, Nujaba militiamen were also enlisted in the newly formed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) to fight the Sunni terrorist organization.
Nujaba is “funded by, but not under the control of the Iraqi government,” the State Department explained. It has “openly pledged its loyalties to Iran and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.”
“Kabi has publicly claimed that he would follow an order, including overthrowing the Iraqi government or fighting alongside the Houthis in Yemen, if Ayatollah Khamenei declared it to be a religious duty,” added the statement from the State Department.
In the early years of the Trump administration, under its first Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, Washington accommodated Iranian influence in Iraq, continuing the policy of the Obama administration. However, under Tillerson’s successor, Mike Pompeo the State Department has been much more actively engaged in countering Iran in Baghdad and elsewhere.
Last May, as the US withdrew from the Iranian nuclear accord
, Pompeo outlined twelve conditions that Tehran had to meet in order to get US sanctions lifted. They included, “Iran must respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi government and permit the disarming, demobilization, and reintegration of Shia militias.”
Read more: Kurdistan24
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