There are fresh signs of a widening rift between Iraqi militias controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and their IRGC handlers, a telltale sign of Iran’s influence crumbling in Iraq.
Recent tensions appear to have been fueled by the Iraqi militias’ failure to comply with the IRGC’s orders, and by Iran’s desire to distance itself from rogue actors as it pursues its own interests on the world stage, they said.
Meanwhile, others maintain that Iran and its proxies remain as close as ever.
The militias have faced strong criticism from senior IRGC commanders, led by IRGC Quds Force commander Esmail Qaani, for their behavior in Iraq.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in March, after receiving an update report from Qaani about the disappearance of $4 billion generated via arms and drug smuggling activities, even went as far as calling the militias “thieves”.
According to a Saturday (May 22) report in Middle East Eye, IRGC general Haider al-Afghani, a former aide to the late IRGC-QF commander Qassem Soleimani, last week asked Qaani for a transfer out of Iraq.
Sources said al-Afghani made the request after he had repeatedly complained that the leaders of Iraqi militias did not comply with his orders and that “every one of them did whatever they wanted, and did not listen to him”.
Iraqi tribal leader Thaer al-Bayati said Iran is reaping what it sowed.
“The hungry militias have become deadly groups, and it is no longer easy to tell them to do this and not to do that,” he told Al-Mashareq.
Recent reports reflect the dissatisfaction of IRGC leaders, especially field commanders, with their partners in the Iraqi factions, he said, adding that the “iron fist” Soleimani consolidated in Iraq is crumbling faster than expected.