As events rapidly proceed in Iraq, the footprints of the Iranian regime’s meddling in the country’s crisis become increasingly evident. The Iranian regime, visibly shaken by recent developments in Iraq, is taking practical measures to preserve its interests in the neighbour country.
As of yet, top Iranian officials deny taking any active role in the events unfolding in Iraq. On Sunday, Ali Khamenei, the Iranian regime’s supreme leader and the man who has the final say in Iran, professed disinterest in intervening in Iraq by stipulating that Iraqis themselves could end violence in their country.
However, reports being aired on media outlets suggest the Iranian regime is already involved in the thick of the Iraq crisis, mainly through contingents of its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) troops and its elements in the Iraqi government, but also by employing its affiliates such as the 9 Badr Corps, a paramilitary group headed by Hadi Ameri, Iraq’s Minister of Transportation.
According to Fox News, Qassem Suleimani, head of the Quds Force, a branch of the IRGC, has been stationed in Iraq along with several hundred elite fighters of the group to closely monitor the events in Iraq. Suleimani is renowned for his role in coordinating terrorist activities attributed to the Iranian regime in the Middle-East, especially in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.
Wall Street Journal also reported on several Quds Force battalions being dispatched to Iraq to serve the Iranian regime’s interests.
Furthermore, the U.S. government has acknowledged involvement of Iranian regime’s forces in Iraq. In a news conference, Admiral John Kirby, the spokesman for the Pentagon, confirmed that “[t]here are some Iranian revolutionary operatives in Iraq.” What’s more, two U.S. officials recently confirmed that Iran is deploying drones to Iraq, and is controlling the aircrafts from an airfield in Baghdad.
Iranian officials justify their actions, claiming they will do whatever it takes to defend the Iran-Iraq border and Shi’ite shrines, but the facts hint at the Iranian regime’s involvement in Iraq beginning to look quite similar to its involvement in Syria, where it has helped prevent the toppling of Bashar al-Assad, the embattled ruler of the country.
In a statement published on June 23, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the main opposition movement to the Iranian regime, further debunked the regime’s claims at not being involved in the Iraq crisis by revealing the identity of an IRGC-Quds commander who had been killed in clashes with rebels in Iraq.
The NCRI, which has many informative sources in Iran and within the Iranian regime’s hierarchy, has previously published valuable information about the Iranian regime’s meddling in the Middle-East region, most notably in Syria and Iraq.
Other facts indicate that the Iranian regime is taking advantage of the situation of unrest in Iraq to further pursue its plots against Iranian opposition members in Iraq.
Al-Tagheer, a local Iraqi television channel, reported that, in fear of the progress made by tribal forces, the Iraqi government and 9 Badr forces have entered Camp Ashraf, in Diyala province, and are breaking into warehouses and plundering the property and assets of the residents. The news was later confirmed by Al-Hurra, another Iraqi television channel.
Camp Ashraf, previously inhabited by members of the PMOI/MEK Iranian opposition group, was evacuated last year in a plan devised by the U.N. and U.S. and agreed to by the Iraqi government, in which commitments were made for the safeguarding of the residents’ property, valued at an estimate $550 million.