Reuters quoted two well-informed Iraqi sources and a security official in Baghdad as saying that Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had sent Hossein Taeb, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps(IRGC) Intelligence Agency to Iraq, to tell the country’s Shiite militias to continue to attack U.S. forces, until their full withdrawal from Iraq.
Reuters added that after Quds Force commander Ismail Qaani failed to convey the message to Iraq’s Shiite militias, Hossein Taeb was tasked with delivering the message to them once again. These actions clearly demonstrate that Khamenei is now personally interfering in Iraqi affairs after the U.S. killing of Qasem Soleimani.
Taeb’s meeting with Iraqi Shiite militia commanders took place in Baghdad last week, during which the head of the IRGC’s intelligence agency conveyed a message from Ali Khamenei urging Iraqi militias not to overstep their retaliatory operations against U.S. forces since it would lead to heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran. However, Hossein Taeb has called on Iraqi militias to expand their range of attacks on U.S. forces stationed in Syria.
A senior Guards figure, Taeb is a mid-ranking Shi’ite cleric seen by insiders and analysts of Iranian politics as close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
In the past few weeks, Iraqi Shiite militias have targeted U.S. bases and positions in Iraq by drones carrying explosives, and in order to carry out these attacks, the IRGC has provided its militias in Syria and Iraq with aerial maps of U.S. bases in respective countries.
An Iraqi government official has told Reuters that the Iranian government intends to use its allies in Iraq to force the U.S. government to return to the JCPOA by accepting Tehran’s terms.
Some Western and Iranian officials have said the talks are a long way from a conclusion, as disagreements on which U.S. sanctions should be lifted and on the nuclear commitments that Iran has to make and when still remain in place.
Also read: Iran cozies up with Taliban in Afghanistan