Conflict among Iranian IRGC-backed militia and rise of assassinations in Iraq

Internecine disagreements among Iranian terrorist designated Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) militia in Iraq have intensified since their election defeat, as evidenced by a spate of assassinations.

The resounding defeat that political parties representing Iran-backed groups suffered in the Iraqi legislative elections of October 10 is heightening the sense of unease and combativeness among them, even as they lose trust in each other, analysts said.

This sense of malaise has been perpetuated by an escalation of assassinations of prominent militia leaders, both IRGC-backed militia, those affiliated with the Iranian axis and those who are not.

Muslim Idan (Abu al-Reesh), a leader in the Sadrist movement, was assassinated on January 9 in the southern province of Maysan.

On January 17, Asaib Ahl al-Haq element Uday al-Shammari was assassinated, and on February 2, Hussam al-Olyawi, a leader in the Iran-backed militia, was killed by unidentified assailants in Maysan province.

Iran-aligned militia groups, which call themselves the “resistance factions”, appear on the surface to be a united front against rival parties, notably the Sadrist movement, he said.

Most of the friction centers on two major Iran-affiliated groups — Kataib Hizbullah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq, who bear hostility towards each other.

Each has accused the other of appropriating the leadership and funds of the Iraqi paramilitary umbrella group, the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), and of monopolizing positions, privileges, and decisions to expand their influence.

Tribal leader Thaer Al-Bayati said the militia leaders today do not believe in the Iranian project as much as they look out for their own interests.

“The Iranian IRGC-backed militia, which are basically mafias, are fighting among themselves over spoils to the point of resorting to physical liquidation, and now threaten by force the sovereignty of the state,” he said.

These armed groups have moved farther away from Iran after the death of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, he said, partly as a result of Soleimani successor Esmail Qaani’s “weak and ineffective” leadership.

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