Iraq

Kataeb Hezbollah: Profile of a Shiite-Iraqi militia handled by the Qods Force to promote Iranian interests in Iraq

Kataeb Hezbollah (“Hezbollah Brigades”) is a radical Shiite militia of a clearly anti-American nature with a Khomeinist ideology. It was established by the Qods Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in 2007 in southern Iraq with the objective of fighting against the US army and ousting it from Iraq. It is the most prominent among the Shiite militias handled by Iran, prioritized in military and financial support from the IRGC’s Qods Force.
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Iran faces growing Challenges in Iraq but is determined to further Its vital interests

Iraq was and remains a particularly important arena for Iran’s regional policies and national security concerns. Iran shares its longest and most strategic border with Iraq, which Iran considers to be its “backyard.” Since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, Tehran has worked to ensure that its neighbor to the east maintains its territorial integrity, under Shia dominance, and under Iran’s sway. Iran sees its involvement in Iraq as a vital tool for preserving its influence in the country.
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Spotlight on Iran (June 28, 2020 – July 12, 2020)

The Iranian chief of staff of the armed forces and the Syrian minister of defense signed a comprehensive agreement concerning military cooperation between the two countries. The presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey discussed the settlement of the war in Syria at a video-teleconferenced summit. Iran issued only a tepid response to the raid carried out on June 25th by the Iraq’s Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) on the compound of the Shia pro-Iranian militia, Kataeb Hezbollah, in Baghdad. The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenai, sent a letter to the head of Hamas’ political bureau, Ismail Hanniyeh, in which he stressed Iran’s ongoing commitment to support the Palestinians.
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Spotlight on Global Jihad (July 2-8, 2020)

The ceasefire is being maintained in the Idlib region of northern Syria, but high-intensity local incidents continue between the warring sides. The Iraq Province continues to be the most active of ISIS’s provinces (mainly in the form of activating IEDs, launching rockets, and targeted killings). In the Sinai Peninsula, ISIS continued its intensive activity against the Egyptian army and the forces supporting it (activating IEDs, attacking a militia that supports the Egyptian army). In ISIS’s other provinces in Africa and Asia, “routine” military activity continues (Nigeria, Congo, Somalia, Pakistan, India and the Philippines).
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Spotlight on Global Jihad (June 25 – July 1, 2020)

The ceasefire is being maintained in the Idlib region of northern Syria, but there has been an increase in the number of local incidents between the warring sides. The Iraq Province continues to be ISIS’s most active province, but there has also been a resurgence in the activity of the Syria Province. According to a report in the newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, a joint military operation against ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula carried out by the Egyptian army and Bedouin tribesmen failed.
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Spotlight on Iran (June 14, 2020 – June 28, 2020)

An Iranian news website published an article discussing the changing patterns of activity of the Qods Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) following the assassination of Qasem Soleimani. The Iranian news agency Tasnim reported that the Commander of the IRGC's Qods Force, Esmail Qa'ani, visited the Albu Kamal area on the Syrian side of the Syrian-Iraqi border. Following the entry into force of the Caesar Act, which tightened sanctions on Syria, Iran reiterated its commitment to maintain economic cooperation with Syria. Iran is maintaining its efforts to preserve its interests in Iraq under the changing circumstances created following the appointment of Mustafa al-Kazimi as Iraq’s Prime Minister.
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Iraq

The Republic of Iraq (الجمهورية العراقية – Al-Jumhūrīyya Al-‘Irāqīyya) borders with Turkey in the north, Syria and Jordan in the west, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in the south, and Iran in the east. Iraq has a population of over 31 million, the vast majority of whom are Arabs (97% Muslim, 65% Shiite and 35% Sunni). In northeastern Iraq there is an autonomous Kurdish entity known as Iraqi Kurdistan. There are no relations between the State of Israel and Iraq, and Iraq refuses to recognize Israel.

After the Iraq war, the country was run by a coalition of countries that had invaded Iraq, headed by the United States. In 2005, civilian control was transferred to the interim Iraqi government that was appointed after a general election for a temporary parliament, which was held for the first time in the history of Iraq. In 2006, a permanent Shiite government was formed, and thus a change of government took place in Iraq, which had been in the hands of the Sunnis up to that time. In December 2011, the last American soldiers stationed in Iraq left the country.

After the fall of Saddam Hussein, a branch of Al-Qaeda was established in Iraq, headed by Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi. This branch later evolved into ISIS. This branch, which enjoyed widespread support among the Sunni population in Iraq, carried out terrorist attacks directed against Shiite civilians and against the Iraqi regime. In 2014, in the city of Mosul, ISIS declared the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate and took control of vast areas in western and northwestern Iraq, with the intention of taking control of the Iraqi capital Baghdad as well. In the years that followed, through efforts by the Iraqi security forces and local militias supported by the United States, these areas were liberated and ISIS slowly began to lose its power.