As the United States, under Barack Obama, has begun to act as a proxy for Iran in allowing the alleged fight against ISIS serve as a cover for spreading Iranian influence it has become obvious that we are supporting Iranian-backed militias who are no better, in any respect, than the people they are supposed to be fighting. Instead of fighting ISIS, these militias are actively involved in ethnic cleansing and perhaps genocide.
Human Rights (OHCHR) released a comprehensive study of human rights violations committed by both IS and pro-Iraqi forces. The Islamic State, OHCHR concluded, has likely committed genocide against the Yazidis, a ethno-religious minority in Iraq, in a catalogue of war crimes and crimes against humanity that include gang-rape and sexual slavery. But OHCHR’s language is equally unambiguous in condemning the other side on the battlefield: “Throughout the summer of 2014,” the report noted, “[PMUs], other volunteers and [Shiite] militia moved from their southern heartlands towards [Islamic State]-controlled areas in central and northern Iraq. While their military campaign against the group gained ground, the militias seem to operate with total impunity, leaving a trail of death and destruction in their wake.” [Italics added.]
Sunni villages in Amerli and Suleiman Bek, in the Salah ad-Din province, have been looted or destroyed by militiamen operating on the specious assumption that all inhabitants once ruled by IS must be IS sympathizers or collaborators. Human Rights Watch has also lately discovered that the “liberation” of Amerli last October — another PMU/Iranian-led endeavor, only this one abetted by U.S. airstrikes in the early stages — was characterized by wide-scale abuses including the looting and burning of homes and business of Sunni residents of villages surrounding Amerli.
The apparent aim was ethnic cleansing. Human Rights Watch concluded, from witness accounts, that “building destruction in at least 47 predominantly Sunni villages was methodical and driven by revenge and intended to alter the demographic composition of Iraq’s traditionally diverse provinces of Salah al-Din and Kirkuk.”
Not only have these Iranian militias proven brutal and prone to terrorizing civilians, they are also monumentally incompetent when confronting anything more formidable that unarmed citizenry.
U.S. officials have variously estimated that either 23,000 or 30,000 “pro-government” forces were marshaled for the job, of which only slender minority were actual Iraqi soldiers. The rest consisted of a consortium of Shiite militia groups operating under the banner of Hashd al-Shaabi, or the Population Mobilization Units (PMU), which was assembled in answer to afatwah issued by Iraq’s revered Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali Sistani in June 2014 following ISIS’s blitzkrieg through northern Iraq. To give you a sense of the force disparity, the PMUs are said to command 120,000 fighters, whereas the Iraqi Army has only got 48,000 troops.
Against this impressive array of paramilitaries, a mere 400 to 1,000 IS fighters have managed to hold their ground in Tikrit, driving major combat operations to a halt.
The Obama administration strategy against ISIS, as best as there can be seen to be one, has been to seek an alliance with Iran. Even where that alliance places us in direct conflict with our own stated geopolitical goals. For instance, Obama has pledged to overthrow Assad, but Assad is an Iranian puppet and we are simultaneously trying to overthrow him while propping him up. Indeed, our involvement in Syria is as shameful as our involvement in Iraq:
The Obama administration’s counterterrorism-driven policy for the Middle East, and a quietly pursued diplomatic reconciliation with Iran, has resulted in America’s diminishment of grave war crimes committed by Iran’s clients and proxies, and the problem is hardly just confined to Iraq. In Syria, for instance, the National Defense Force, a conglomerate of militias trained and equipped by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force (IRGC) — a U.S.-designated terrorist entity — has been accused by the Syrian Network for Human Rights and the Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights, of “[burning] at least 81 people to death, including 46 civilians; 18 children, 7 women, and 35 of the armed opposition fighters,” along with other pro-Assad forces. The State Department has offered condolences to Iran’s President Hasan Rouhani on the death of his mother; to date, it has not said a word about the immolation of these Syrians at the hands of a Quds Force-built guerrilla army.
All of which raises the question: Does the United States have a “common interest,” as Secretary of State [mc_name name=’Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’K000148′ ] phrased it, with a regime in Tehran whose proxies are currently burning people alive in their houses, playing soccer with severed human heads, and ethnically cleansing and razing whole villages to the ground?
If the administration thinks us flying aircover for the genocidal mobs Tehran has unleashed in Iraq and Syria buys us influence they should think again.
Indeed, quite apart from having American blood on their hands and American interests furthest from their mind, Shiite militias — following Tehran’s favorite playbook — have also taken to conspiratorially blaming the United States for inventing and militarily supporting the Islamic State, while decrying any American anti-IS involvement in Iraq. Take, for instance, the Badr Corps, headed by Hadi al-Amiri, the commander of Hashd al-Shaabi, and a man infamous for “using a power drill to pierce the skulls of his adversaries,” or so the State Department found in a 2009 cable to Washington, which also alleged that al-Amiri “may have personally ordered attacks on up to 2,000 Sunnis.” (Despite this grim record, al-Amiri was invited to the Obama White House in 2011 when he was Iraq’s transportation minister.)
Lately al-Amiri taken to both boasting that Stuart Jones, the current U.S. ambassador to Iraq, personally offered him close air support, while reprehending those Iraqis who “kiss the hands of the Americans and get nothing in return.” But when it comes to Tehran, he’s full of praise for the “unconditional” support his country has received. Now al-Amiri has found a more modest tongue. He told the Guardian’s Martin Chulov on March 26: “We did not ask for [U.S. airstrikes on Tikrit] and we have no direct contact with the Americans. From what I understand, Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi made the request. However, we respect his decision.”
“We are staying in Tikrit, we are not leaving and we are going to target the American-led coalition in Tikrit and their creation, ISIS,” said Akram al-Kabi, the leader of the Nujabaa Brigade, a powerful militia that has previously sent fighters to Syria on behalf of the Bashir al-Assad government there.
Obama has made the worst sort of deal with the devil. Not only is America’s name being dragged through the muck with combatants on both sides and America’s prestige being drastically diminished but the entire operation is a shambles unlikely to produce anything but two or three more failed states and and an unending stream of misery and bloodshed.