Iranian IRGC export of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to its proxies in Iraq has drawn the ire of Iraq’s neighbors, who have been attacked by weaponized drones from Iraqi soil, and from Iraqi officials, who are fed up with Iran’s interference.
The Iranian IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) has been supplying its Iraqi proxies with dozens of drones since at least 2019, after previously supplying them to the Houthis in Yemen and Lebanese Hizbullah.
Iran’s pivot to drone warfare over the years has allowed the IRGC to leverage lower-priced military equipment for its disruptive regional actions, analysts have noted.
At least four Iraqi militias backed by the terrorist Iranian IRGC organization — the Badr Organisation, Kataib Hizbullah, Kataib Jund al-Imam and Harakat al-Nujaba — have demonstrated drone capabilities, according to The Iran Primer.
But the Badr Organisation claimed as early as 2015 to have a drone arsenal.
In February 2015, a Badr leader in Baghdad said that Iran had provided the militants with UAVs and taught them how to make them.
In the past year, at least 10 UAV attacks were carried out in Iraq, including a September 11 attack on Erbil International Airport and another on November 7 that targeted the residence of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhemi.
So far this year, three UAV attacks have been thwarted in Iraq, including an April 8 incident in which a drone was shot down near Ain al-Asad airbase in Anbar.
On February 2, Alwiyat al-Waad al-Haq, a shadowy group affiliated with Kataib Hizbullah, claimed responsibility for a UAV attack on Abu Dhabi in the UAE that was reportedly launched from Iraqi soil.
The same group previously claimed responsibility for a January 2021 attack on al-Yamamah Palace and other targets in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
According to numerous reports, parts for some UAVs operated by Iran’s proxies in Iraq were smuggled in from Iran and assembled by IRGC experts.
These drones have been used in attacks on Iraqi facilities.
Iran-aligned militias in Iraq “do not have the capability to produce UAVs with modern systems and technologies for identifying targets from long distances and striking them”, military analyst Majid al-Qaisi says.
But Iran has the technological capability to manufacture these drones, he said, adding that drone attacks aim to cause turmoil.