US think tank says Baghdad should remove PMF from the Green Zone

Reportpopular crowdGreen Zone

 2022-09-01 14:55A-AA+

Shafaq News/ Michael Knights, a policy analyst for the Washington Institute, said that the United States and its partners should urge Baghdad to remove the militias, even those masquerading as government-run units, from Baghdad’s International Zone (IZ), also known as the Green Zone, in the aftermath of the clashes that took place on October 29-30, 2022.

According to Knights, Iran-backed militias fired the first shots near the Republican Palace, spurring the followers of the powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada alSadr, “who were mostly unarmed at this point to retreat, mobilize more of their brethren, and resort to firing heavy weapon.”

“How Did the Violence Unfold?”

On August 29, Sadrist supporters—who have forced their way into the IZ during a series of protests and mob actions in recent weeks—approached the Republican Palace for the first time. Located at the heart of the zone, the palace is mostly a symbolic site for the reception of foreign dignitaries, though some government functions are carried out in its many offices. Of critical importance, the palace grounds and nearby streets are also home to the offices and barracks of Iran-backed militias such as Kataib Hezbollah, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, and Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba—U.S.-designated terrorist groups who masquerade as government-paid units within Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) despite remaining steadfastly outside government control. As Sadrists began flooding the area, these PMF units opened fire and drove them back to the northern entrances of the IZ.

Unfortunately, once Sadr’s forces remobilized and began firing back into the IZ, genuine members of the Iraqi security forces (ISF) were the most visible targets. In response, the ISF demonstrated outstanding restraint by not answering with deadly counter-fire of their own, operating under the direct control of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi from the Joint Operations Command. Yet snipers from Iran-backed PMF units kept shooting at Sadrists, who in turn kept up their fire. By nightfall, complete chaos reigned, and the Sadrist mob was fully out of control and bombarding the IZ with machine gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades. As the dust cleared, around a dozen Sadrists were dead and about the same number of ISF, including half a dozen Iran-backed PMF members.

“Stabilizing Iraq Requires a Stable Government Center”

Throughout the showdown, every element of the ISF demonstrated great restraint except one: the PMF. Only the militias—both those affiliated with Sadr and those backed by Iran—operated outside the control of the prime minister and the Joint Operations Command. And only one element—Iran-backed PMF fighters—initiated the use of live fire against unarmed civilians inside the IZ. This underlines the need to remove all PMF units from the zone for the safety of not only the Iraqi government, but also the foreign diplomatic corps based there.

This issue has been a running sore for years. Estimates of the number of PMF militiamen inside the IZ vary wildly (from 500 to 10,000), and the figure likely fluctuates depending on various circumstances. Their presence has been reduced under Kadhimi, along with their forward-basing of heavy weapons inside the zone (e.g., 23-millimeter antiaircraft cannons) and their freedom to reinforce troops there at will—indeed, the past few days have shown that the broader ISF can prevent mass PMF reinforcement in the IZ during emergencies. Yet the fighting also shows that even a reduced number of PMF can cause major chaos and damage, including to Iraq’s international relations. Because of undisciplined PMF elements, an all-out battle broke out for one night in the heart of the IZ, plunging Baghdad back into civil war-like conditions.

This is not the first time the PMF have abused their position inside the IZ. Iran-backed terrorists masquerading as government fighters have instigated and provided targeting data for attacks against the U.S. and British embassies and Iraqi officials, including the prime minister. For example, they tried to overrun the U.S. embassy in December 2019, bringing Iraq to the brink of a destructive battle. Later, they surrounded Kadhimi’s IZ residence in June 2020 and struck it with explosive drones while he slept there in November 2021.

Sadr may have learned a lesson this week: that killing ISF soldiers is a terrible stain regardless of the context in which the shots are fired. Yet the Iran-backed terrorists who dominate the PMF have suffered no consequences so far for drawing first blood—they are still rooted at the heart of the government center, and no orders have been issued to remove them.

Going forward, the ISF and their commander-in-chief, Prime Minister Kadhimi, have the authority and moral imperative to require all militias and large bodyguard forces out of the IZ, and U.S. officials should urge him to do just that. On August 30, Kadhimi promised to investigate the opening use of live ammunition against protesters by “undisciplined groups”—politician-speak for the PMF—and called them out for failing to heed his orders. Taking the bigger step of removing all militias from the IZ would reduce the risk of new clashes, give the zone a more controllable security force, and begin to excise a longstanding cancer at the heart of government stability and diplomatic security. Whatever Kadhimi’s political future may be, the international community should remind him that he can still leave a lasting legacy in one crucial area: establishing a government center fully controlled by ISF elements loyal to the Iraqi government. Alternatively, if Baghdad fails to leverage this wake-up call and leaves the instigators of this week’s street battle in place, it would be yet another sign of a feeble government and absentee foreign partners.

(By Mark Knight for the Washington Institute)


“Minister Al-Sadr” places a number of requests related to the crowd and militias and calls for changing Falih Al-Fayyad

politicsbreakingFaleh Al FayyadMinister of Al-Sadr

 2022-09-01 13:39A-AA+

Shafaq News/ Saleh Muhammad al-Iraqi, who is close to the leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, called on Thursday to end the presence of militias and the Popular Mobilization in sensitive sites in the country, while calling for the dismissal of the head of the Popular Mobilization Authority, Faleh al-Fayyad, due to his “weak personality.”

Al-Iraqi, also known as “the Minister of the Commander”, said in a tweet followed by Shafak News Agency, “We suggest to the respected commander of the armed forces, the following:

This is in order to preserve the prestige of the state, end the presence of militias in sensitive places in the country, and change the PMF official (Faleh al-Fayyad) for the following reasons.

He explained, “He is a partisan (Faleh al-Fayyad) and the head of a bloc, and this is what politicizes the Mujahideen crowd, and he does not possess a strong personality and even does not possess a military mentality, and in general, he is not qualified for this position.”

Al-Iraqi continued, “Issuing a firm and strict order to dissolve the factions that claim resistance and are killing the people, and to remove all the factions and even the popular crowd from the Green Zone, and seized by the heroic national security forces.”

He considered that the fact that the factions and the mobilization remained “has a security risk for the same commander of the armed forces, as well as for the rest of the institutions, especially the judiciary and pressure on him.”

Al-Iraqi called for “the removal of the popular crowd from border controls and crossings in order to preserve the reputation of the good mujahideen, as there are those who deliberately distort their reputation through the use of violence, trade, smuggling and so on.”

He stressed, “The support of the mujahideen in the liberated areas, some of them suffer from marginalization and lack of attention in terms of military, security and logistical, and they lack the most basic ingredients.”

Tensions escalated sharply on Monday, August 29, when Sadr loyalists stormed the government palace inside the fortified Green Zone after their leader announced his “retirement” from politics.

But Sadr’s supporters left the Green Zone on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 30, 2022, after he personally asked them to withdraw within an hour, reflecting his great influence on his followers and which earned him his reputation as a ruler.

At least 30 of al-Sadr’s supporters were shot dead and about 600 were wounded during nearly twenty-four hours of clashing with other Shiite factions, while the crowd gathered four of his supporters who said they had fallen on duty.

Yesterday evening, armed clashes erupted in the Basra Governorate in southern Iraq between members of the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq movement led by Qais Khazali.

And Saraya al-Salam affiliated with the leader of the Sadrist movement, and ended with the killing of four people on both sides, before the security forces were able to impose their control.

Khazali directs the closure of Asa’ib’s offices in Iraq


 2022-09-01 06:55A-AA+

Shafaq News/ The Secretary-General of the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq movement, Qais al-Khazali, directed, on Thursday, the closure of the movement’s offices in all regions and cities of Iraq, and until further notice, after the clashes that erupted between Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq militants and others from the “Peace Brigades”, the military wing of the Sadrist movement in Basra governorate. As a result, four people were killed on both sides.

Khazali, in a post on social networking sites “Twitter” today, addressed his followers, saying, “For the sake of Al-Hussein, peace be upon him, you should not receive any negative response from you to the abuses directed at me personally.”

He added that “there are those who are stalking us and wanting to aggravate matters. They missed the opportunity, and failed their plan by silence,” stressing the need not to thwart the revival of the fortieth visit of Imam Hussein.

Al-Khazali directed Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq to “close all the movement’s offices until further notice,” pointing out that “any office that is intended to be burned, let them burn it, and do not worry about that, God will compensate you for that in a great compensation that you do not expect.”

On Thursday, Saleh Muhammad al-Iraqi, the so-called “minister of the leader” who is close to the leader of the Sadrist movement, issued a frank and stern warning to Khazali against the backdrop of the clashes that took place in the city of Basra, the far south of Iraq.

Al-Sadr’s minister said in a post on social media today, “I warn you, Qais, if you do not rein in your impudent militias, and if you do not disavow your murderers and criminals, or prove that they do not belong to you, you are also insolent.”

And the Iraqi Khazali addressed, saying, “Stop disregarding the blood of the people, whoever they are. If you give yourself the mandate to kill your followers, such as: (Abu Dhar), it does not mean that you set yourself up as an executioner in order to assassinate your rabid black dogs and the crowd is innocent of you, you impudent.”

Late last night, gunmen near the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq office, located in the Bariha area of ​​Basra, opened fire at a vehicle in which Hussein Fouad, a leader in the “Saraya al-Salam” military wing of the Sadrist movement, and his companions were traveling, killing the first and wounding the second, who died later in the day. Today, after that.

The “Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq” movement, led by Qais al-Khazali, reported earlier today, the killing of two members of the movement, following clashes with fighters from the “Peace Brigades” in Basra Governorate.

In a statement, the movement called: Ali Sabbar Al-Harishawi and Sarmad Hussein Al-Muhammadawi “while performing their duty in the headquarters of the Popular Mobilization.”

These events come after armed clashes erupted on Monday night on Tuesday in the fortified Green Zone in the center of the capital, Baghdad, which includes government buildings and the headquarters of diplomatic missions between supporters of the Sadrist movement and armed factions loyal to Iran, which resulted in a number of deaths and dozens of injuries.

Video.. Baghdad hosts the first cybersecurity exhibition of its kind

securitycyber securityBaghdad Gallery

 2022-09-01 06:53A-AA+

Shafaq News/ The Iraqi authorities announced today, Thursday, that the capital, Baghdad, will host a cybersecurity and counter-terrorism exhibition, the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa. 

An official source told Shafaq News Agency, “Under the patronage of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi, under the supervision of the National Security Adviser, and with the support of the Anti-Terrorism Service, the Anti-Terrorism, Special Operations and Cybersecurity Exhibition (ATSO Iraq 2022) is being held on the grounds of the Baghdad International Fair, in its second session, For the period from 4-7 September 2022.

The source indicated that the exhibition is the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa, and aims to transfer modern global technology and access to the latest equipment, technologies and intelligence systems specialized in combating terrorism, special operations and cybersecurity, and exchanging security and intelligence experiences with international companies participating in the exhibition, from In order to keep pace with the latest advanced systems and provide the state and its sectors with everything they need to develop their capabilities in this field.

The Federal Court again fails to rule on the claim to dissolve the Iraqi parliament

politicsbreakingFederal Court

 2022-09-01 06:50A-AA+

Shafaq News/ The Federal Supreme Court (the highest judicial authority in Iraq) failed for the third time in a row this week to issue a ruling in the case of dissolving the House of Representatives.

A judicial source told Shafak News Agency, that the Federal Court raises its session in the cases of dissolving the House of Representatives and sets next Wednesday as a date for issuing the decision.

The Federal Court was scheduled to issue its ruling in that case yesterday, Wednesday, 31 August, but it was postponed to the first day of the month of September.

The Federal Court had set August 30 as the date to consider the Sadrist movement’s lawsuits to dissolve parliament, but it postponed its decision due to the disruption of official working hours and the curfew against the backdrop of the bloody clashes that occurred in the heavily fortified Green Zone in the center of the capital, Baghdad.

Nassar al-Rubaie, Secretary-General of the Sadrist bloc, had filed a lawsuit against the President of the Republic, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to rule to dissolve the House of Representatives for its fifth session, and to oblige the President of the Republic to set a date for holding legislative elections in accordance with the provisions of Article 64/second of the Constitution.

The leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, had called on the Supreme Judicial Council to dissolve parliament within a period not exceeding the twentieth of this month, and assigning the President of the Republic to set a date for early elections, but the Council responded to al-Sadr’s request to dissolve parliament, saying: “He does not have this authority.” .

The content of the lawsuit deals with accusations of failing to elect a President of the Republic and violating the constitutional deadlines for forming the new government.