Elijah J. Magnier
New anonymous organisations in Iraq have threatened to strike US forces if they refuse to withdraw from Iraq. One of these newly emerged organisations released its first video of an attack against a US military convoy transporting vehicles on the road between the Kurdish province of Erbil and the northern Salahuddin province, where the US maintains large military bases.
US Ambassador Matthew Tueller has met with caretaker Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, expressing the will of his country to begin strategic talks with Baghdad. The US did not disclose that the US diplomat informed Mr Abdul-Mahdi about the US intention to pull out forces from Iraq and his request not to be attacked during the withdrawal of troops. Indeed, the US has already evacuated forces from 6 bases and centres of control in different places in Iraq. This is what prompted the Iraqi Kataeb Hezbollah (Brigades) to announce particularly that the organisation does not intend to strike US forces as long as they completely withdraw from the country.
However, the Iraqi resistance does not trust the US promises as forwarded to the Iraqi premier. It considers the US is manoeuvring to redeploy forces from the more vulnerable bases to more protected bases. This scepticism has caused new Iraqi resistance to surface, and provoked attacks against US forces in a manner reminiscent of the 1980s “Islamic Jihad” organisation in Lebanon, which was responsible for the kidnapping and killing of US officers and citizens.
The first newly emerged organisation identified itself as “The Revolutionary League” (Usbat al-Thaereen). In its first communiqué, it has shown drone images with excellent resolution of the US embassy in Baghdad in all its details, building, helicopters, movement of personnel and military forces inside. What is striking is not only the fine details and high-quality of the drone footage but how a drone managed to fly for extended minutes over the most guarded buildings inside the Iraqi capital. Three brigades of the Iraqi army (6, 11 and 17) are deployed in the capital Baghdad along with the anti-terrorist force, the federal police HQ, the Ministry of the Interior and the local police. Most of these are based in the “Green Zone” where the US embassy is. US forces are also deployed at Baghdad airport (not far away) and inside the Embassy.
Not only that, a second video was distributed to the press a few days later with drone footage of the most extensive US military base in Iraq, at Ein al-Assad base in the Anbar desert. The video showed weapons stores, forces, buildings, command and control tower and base, hangars, landing and take-off runways and many more details of the entire map of the base. At Ayn al-Assad, the US deploys of the most sophisticated radar, Patriot missiles and other defence systems that are supposed to secure the base.
Moreover, the video had also been shot from outside the base, showing the driving of a car along the walls of the American base in Ain al-Assad, which indicates the ease of movement of the group without regard for the security measures deployed along the road.
The organisation broadcast an enthusiastic song stating its goal of avenging the assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani and the Iraqi leader Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis. The singer’s dialect indicates that he is not Iraqi, though clearly, the singer is a native Arab speaker.
Another new organisation called “The Islamic Resistance in Iraq – People of the Cave” (referring to Surat al-Kahf in the Quran) issued a video in which it showed an IED exploding in convoy carrying military vehicles and, one minute later, a second powerful IED explosion when the convoy personnel gathered to assess the damage. The convoy is said to be travelling from Kurdistan – Erbil to Salah al-Din Governorate, the Uwaynat region. This attack is a message for the US forces: they will not be able to roam as they wish in Iraq because for them the country is now insecure, as are their military bases.
A statement issued by a third new Iraqi organisation called “Islamic Resistance Factions – Iraq – the fist of guidance” accuses America of preparing to launch an attack against the Iraqi factions, and gives the American and British ambassadors 48 hours to leave, or they will be killed. It was not possible to confirm the authenticity of this statement.
It is to be expected that more organisations will emerge in Iraq, enjoying military, media and organisational skills and capabilities. These undoubtfully benefited from the long years of war in Lebanon between Hezbollah and Israel, in Syria against al-Qaeda and ISIS (The Islamic State), and in Iraq against the US during the 2003-2011 invasion and against ISIS following the occupation of a third of Iraq in 2014.
These organisations seek retribution against the US, which assassinated the leader of the “Axis of Resistance” Major General Qassim Soleimani, the field commander in the “Popular Mobilisation Forces” (PMF) Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, and which bombed several bases of the Iraqi army, its federal police and the PMF at the Syrian-Iraqi borders, al-Qaem, and destroyed Karbala Civil Airport. The US breach of the memorandum of agreement signed in 2014 exasperated Iraqi political, military officials and many other resistance groups.
The US Ambassador visited the caretaker Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to inform him about its decision to leave Iraq and proposes a large meeting next June to agree on the mechanism of withdrawal from Iraq. The ambassador asked Mr Abdul Mahdi to intervene to stop all attacks against American forces while withdrawing and to mediate with Iran to achieve this, because “America is serious about proceeding with the exit from Iraq.”
The Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades, the League of the Righteous (Asaeb Ahl al-Haq), Al-Nujabaa Movement and the Imam Ali Brigades responded to the Iranian request to refrain from opposing al-Kazemi, despite their lack of trust in him and in the US intention to withdraw. These factions promised not to attack the US forces as long as the US shows they are withdrawing their forces from the country. Thus, the emergence of new organisations aims to offer an excuse for these groups, that they are not apparently involved in any attack and that they are “encouraging” the US to leave. These groups are unknown and new on the Iraqi scene. Therefore, it is easy for them to avoid pressure from the officials in Baghdad.
However, the style of these organisations reminds us of the “Islamic Jihad” organisation in Lebanon that emerged in the 1980s, was responsible for the kidnapping of hostages in Lebanon and worked directly under the command of Iran. It was not connected to Lebanese “Hezbollah” at the time.
It seems that the US has not read carefully enough the Iranian messages following the assassination of the Axis of the Resistance leader. When Sayyed Ali Khamenei said: “The price of the assassination of Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis is the US departure from West Asia” this meant that the decision had been taken to force the US out whatever the cost.
Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon and of the “Axis of Resistance” in Lebanon, Gaza, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, said “every American soldier is a legitimate target”. He wondered, when directing his question to the US following the assassination of Soleimani and Muhandis: “what have you done? Are you aware whose blood you spilt?” His message was clear: “Hezbollah will not stand idle and will target every US soldier.” Sayyed Nasrallah said explicitly: “Iraq is the battlefield”.
Driving the US out of West Asia is the goal. The methods used by the Iraqi resistance will not be different from methods used against Israel in Lebanon, in Syria and Iraq during the past decade. They will be employed until the very last US soldier leaves Iraq.
Proofread by Maurice Brasher and C.G.B