Iraqi Shiite militia leader blames US for losses to ISIS

Prominent leader in Iraqi Shiite militia Asaib Ahl al-Haq says US not serious in fight against ISIS

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Qais al Khazali, leader of the Shiite group Asaib Ahl al Haq

The leader of the Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiite militia group, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, has called US efforts in battling ISIS ineffective.

Qais al-Khazali, the leader of the militia, has accused Washington of lacking the will to uproot the armed insurgency that controls large swathes of Iraq and over 50 percent of Syria.

"We believe the United States of America does not want to resolve the crisis but rather wants to manage the crisis," he told Reuters in an interview

"It does not want to end Daesh [ISIS]. It wants to exploit Daesh to achieve its projects in Iraq and in the region. The American project in Iraq is to repartition the region."

Khazali said the US anti-ISIS campaign has failed because of an ambitious American agenda that aims to redraw the map of the Middle East along new borders.

Khazali said the US-led coalition failed to ramp up the number of air strikes against ISIS over time as he said it had pledged to do.

Mutual mistrust has made it impossible for Khazali’s forces to coordinate with the United States, according to the militia chief.

"We do not agree to participate in any area where there are American strikes. We will place full responsibility on the American administration for any strike that happens under the guise of being a mistake," he said.

"The Americans do not trust us because we resisted them during the occupation. There is no prospect [for cooperation]," he added.

Asaib Ahl al-Haq is arguably one of the fiercest Iraqi Shiite militias. The group is at the forefront of the Iranian-backed umbrella alliance the Popular Mobilization Forces, along with the Badr Brigades and Kataib Hezbollah.

The Popular Mobilization Forces have emerged as one of the strongest military bodies in Iraq since the near collapse of the country’s national army a year ago and many abuses by the Shiite forces against Sunni areas reclaimed from ISIS have been reported.

In the past few months, there have been reports of violations including killings, looting and burning of Sunni homes. Khazali has denied the accusations.

"Despite the media whirlwind and exaggeration, no media outlet has been able to accuse the Shi'ite Hashid Shaabi of one [act of] genocide or of killing one innocent citizen," he said.

Khazali also said Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has been under US pressure to limit the presence of Shiite fighters in the campaign to retake Anbar province from ISIS.

"Now the American project is trying at least to limit the presence of the Hashid Shaabi to the borders of Fallujah and not reach Ramadi. This is the magnitude of the pressure from the American leadership now on the Iraqi prime minister," he said.

In 2007 al-Khazali - now 41 years-old - was arrested by American forces for his alleged role in an attack on an Iraqi government compound in Karbala, the Shiite heartland of southern Iraq, which left five American soldiers dead. Khazali is now one of Iraq’s most feared Shiite fighters, and one of Iran’s most important allies in the region.


TRTWorld and agencies