Shafaq News / Since Mustafa Al-Kadhimi took office; the arrest of members of the Iraqi Kata’ib Hezbollah has been the most prominent security challenge and a prelude of the internal dangerous political-security view in the next phase.
To say that terms such as “pre-raid” and “post-raid” that took place on the night of June 25-26, would chronicle the security development in Iraq is not an overstatement.
Since the counter-terrorism services (ICTS) raided the headquarters of the Iran-backed Shiite militia after hours of Al-Kadhimi’s statement to a group of journalists and political analysts “we will not allow external parties’ gambles in Iraq, as regional interventions only succeed if there is a party inside working on it”.
The raid came at a critical time; less than two weeks after the Iraqi-U.S. strategic dialogue and less than a month before Al-Kadhimi’s planned visit to Washington D.C. in July and his forthcoming visit to Tehran.
In addition to its internal backlashes, ICTS’s raid carried out a multifaceted message that reflects the determination of the keen and calculated statesman; who draw the line firmly in the face of challenges that threaten the sovereignty and security of the country. However, the massage of Al-Asa’ib’s leader, Qais Khazali, summarized what was happening by asking Al-Kadhimi to “ignore” the current events; creates several readings of the already disturbing internal scene.
Commenting on the sensitivity of the situation, the Iraqi security analyst, Hisham Al-Hashimi said "After the Iraqi-U.S. strategic dialogue, the prime minister took a covenant from the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) to steer clear of provoking U.S. interests in Iraq, but they did not abide by it and started this confrontation”.
Al-Hashimi also mentioned what the Joint Special Operations Command referred to as, “failing attacks planned by the Iraqi Kata’ib Hezbollah on the Green Zone and other Iraqi and U.S. positions".
In fact, the Joint Special Operations Command added other aspects in its statement to Shafaq News agency, "Armed factions with government vehicles moved - without official approvals - towards government headquarters inside and outside the Green Zone, approached one of the headquarters of the ICTS inside the Green Zone, and took over it. These parties do not want to be part of the state and its obligations and seek to remain outside the authority of the Commander in Chief of the Constitutional and Legal Armed Forces".
A security source declared to Shafaq News agency “these elements remained scattered within Al-Jadriyah area and the Green zone’s vicinity; to press for the release of the detainees”, and he noted "after negotiations led by Abu Zainab Al-Lami, the head of the PMF security, the detainees were received in the building of the PMF security Directorate in Al-Kanat area (east of Baghdad), awaiting the decision of the special investigating judge".
The Joint Special Operations Command also emphasized the seriousness of this behavior and the threat it poses on the security of the state and its democratic political system, "it is clear that these parties have used the capabilities of the state, and that is not allowed under any pretext whatsoever. We affirm the determination to continue the march in achieving security for the Iraqi people and to bring the matter to the authority and judiciary".
A security source revealed - as part of the judicial process - the fate of the 14 detainees arrested during the raid and charged of involvement in rocket attacks on civil and military targets. Three of the detainees will be charged with terrorism under Article 4 and will be brought to court after the preliminary investigation is completed; the remaining detainees will be released.
In his statement to Shafaq news agency, Al-Hashimi had observed the performance of the militias and the shift it went through after the assassination of Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis on January 3rd, reaching the current disobedience of what he called “The Katyusha cells” that openly declared, “We are not the offender, but we bless any operation against the American presence”.
Al-Hashimi continues, “In March, the challenge increased and became clear; even though the official statements in Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s era classified it as an act of terrorism”.
According to Al-Hashimi, "The scene summarizes that we have moved from a state of hidden rebellion to a state of apparent defiance and then to a state of confrontation. The raided cell may have been preparing for a large-scale operation with 23 Katyusha rockets targeting the Green Zone, Baghdad International Airport, and Taji and was nullified by the raid".
Al-Hashimi did not seem optimistic regarding the militias’ position as he said, "This confrontation may prohibit them, but only temporarily” especially since Qais Khazali made it clear in his speech that “this deterrence is temporary and we do not allow anyone to prevent the katyusha cells from carrying out these operations, and the state must understand that it has no duty but ignore”.
The leader of Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq, Qais Khazali said on Friday, “Mustafa al-Kadhimi's directive to arrest members of PMF through ICTS is a total mess and a dangerous event"
Khazali considered, “the issue should have been addressed by the head of PMF; ICTS is a national body that fought alongside PMF against terrorism".
He also criticized the joint special operations command’s statement, which he claimed was "written by the Americans", adding that” since the parliament voted to remove the U.S. forces from Iraq, their staying is considered an invasion”.
In a further indication of the seriousness of the situation in the next phase, "Al-Abdal movement" distributed a statement after the raid, "Know that everyone who holds the status of mujahid (Combatant) and patriot is one body, do not be deceived by following the enemy for we will bring down the dens that America has fortified for you; we are free and will do what we promise. So, be aware of what we say”.
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Baghdad's Tahrir Square on Friday in a remarkable scene; carrying banners supporting and praising the government’s move to crack down on Iraq’s Kata’ib Hezbollah and corrupt militias. According to video footage, the demonstrators chanted slogans in support of the ICTS which carried out the raid.
In sum, if the concerned parties - Al-Kadhimi, the leaders of Kata’ib Hezbollah, and the PMF in general – manage this confrontation with politics, not weapons the "night of the raid" could turn into a new Iraqi starting point; otherwise, it would be the beginning of additional tension in Iraq.[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]