Reports suggest that Iran’s involvement in Iraq far exceeds what the regime would have everyone believe. There is more to it than meets the eye as Kurdish authorities in Iraq have pointed out recently accusing Iran of secretly sending around 30,000 soldiers and military experts in Iraqi territory apparently to fight against the ISIS.
Whether they have been sent to achieve any other objectives cannot be ascertained at this point in time.
Head of Iraq’s parliamentary security and defence committee, Shahkhawan Abdullah, confirmed on Sunday the presence of Iranian troops in various Iraqi cities and participation in fighting. He further revealed that Iran’s presence was not restricted to military advisers or experts.
In fact, it is also operating under the banner of the Popular Mobilization Forces. The PMF is an umbrella organization comprising of approximately 100,000 fighters who belong to various militant Shiite groups.
There is also the matter of the role of Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s terrorist Qods Force, in Iraq’s affairs. The regime’s propaganda has painted him as the protector of Baghdad and spearheading the campaign against ISIS. This has negatively impacted the efforts against ISIS as now it is being viewed as a sectarian conflict due to Iran’s presence.
According to several human rights groups and some US military commanders, Shiite militias affiliated with Iran have been slaughtering Sunni civilians. This has only made ISIS appear more appealing to those who feel vulnerable and enraged against Iran’s onslaught.
All attempts aimed at bridging sectarian difference are bound to result in futility since the Iranian regime is actively carrying out violence on sectarian grounds in Iraq.
Moreover, Iran’s activities are not just undermining the efforts of the international coalition, but also destroying the credibility of the Iraq government amongst the common people. Certain reports concerning involvement of Iraqi troops in the massacres committed by Shiite militias have served has worsened the trust deficit between the people and the government and increased sectarian tensions.