Who Really Controls Iraq? Inside Iran's Powerful Proxy Armies

Tyler Durden's picture

When social media began to light up with pictures of Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani rallying Shiite militiamen and Hezbollah soldiers ahead of Russia and Iran’s joint effort to retake the city of Aleppo, some wondered where all of these fighters came from. After all, even though the IRGC has now all but admitted it sent soldiers to Syria for the offensive, it wasn’t as if the entire Iranian army marched in overnight and if you believe the reports from the frontlines, the ground force marching on Syria’s largest city looks quite a bit different from the depleted SAA which was all but decimated just two months ago. 

Those who have frequented these pages lately know exactly where those troops came from. Some are Hezbollah fighters and the rest were ordered to the Syrian frontlines from Iraq by Soleimani himself. We predicted this would happen months ago and now that the social media selfies are beginning to show up, everyone now seems to be gradually discovering the plan we outlined in “Mid-East Coup: As Russia Pounds Militant Targets, Iran Readies Ground Invasions While Saudis Panic.” Here’s WaPo for instance:

Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite Quds forces and the public face of Iran’s military intervention in the region, has ordered thousands of Shiite militiamen into Syria for an operation to recapture Aleppo, according to officials from three Iraqi militias.The militiamen are to join Iranian troops and forces from Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shiite militia, the officials said. The Iraqi Shiite militia Kitaeb Hezbollah has sent around 1,000 fighters from Iraq, one said.


The Lebanese group Hezbollah and the Quds Force, which is part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, have also sent reinforcements, he said. Last week, a U.S. defense official said hundreds of Iranian troops were near the city in preparation for an offensive.


“It’s not a secret. We are all fighting against the same enemy,” said Saidi.


His militia released a photo of Soleimani, the Quds Force commander, with its fighters near Aleppo on one of its social media accounts last week.


“The operation is an extension for our operations in Iraq because it’s the same enemy, and when we hit them there it means that it will get results in Iraqi lands,” the Kitaeb official said. Soleimani “specifically requested they go there for the launch of the operation for Aleppo,” he said.

But this is more than some general calling in favors from fanatical Khamenei followers operating across the border.

The Shiite militias called to the fight in Syria control Iraq.


Take for instance the recent battle to recapture the Baiji refinery from ISIS. Although badly damaged, the site has both strategic and symbolic significance and even as the victory was claimed by the Iraqi army, there were more Shiite militiamen fighting than Iraqi regulars. Here’s The New York Times:

A spokesman for Shiite militias said that several thousand Shiite militiamen were fighting in and near Baiji, which is more than the estimated number of Iraqi soldiers also fighting there. 

Tehran’s control of the militias mirrors Iran’s influence on Iraqi politics. Although PM Haider al-Abadi certainly wouldn’t put it in these terms, Iraq is now for all intents and purposes a large Iranian colony, an ironic twist of fate given Saddam’s invasion of Iran 35 years ago. 

We bring all of this up because Tehran’s influence in Iraq will be one of the key issues going forward once Russia and Iran retake Western Syria for Assad. Once the regime’s key strongholds are secured, it seems very likely that Russia will begin bombarding ISIS positions in the East while Iran’s Shiite militias will simply drive Islamic State out of Syria and right over the border into Iraq where fighters from the very same militias will be waiting with weapons at the ready. ISIS will, in effect, be encircled. 

It’s with all of that in mind that we bring you the following excerpts from a new Reuters feature report entitled “Power failure in Iraq as militias outgun state.” 

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a Shi’ite, came to office just over a year ago backed by both the United States and Iran. He promised to rebuild the fragmented country he inherited from his predecessor, Nuri al-Maliki, who was widely accused of fueling sectarian divisions. Since then, though, even more power has shifted from the government to the militia leaders.


Those leaders are friendly with Abadi. But the most influential describe themselves as loyal not only to Iraq but also to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Three big militias – Amiri’s Badr Organisation, Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Kataib Hezbollah – use the Iranian Shi’ite cleric’s image on either their posters or websites. Badr officials describe their relationship with Iran as good for Iraq’s national interests.


Initially, Abadi had little choice but to lean on the Shi’ite paramilitary forces. They grew in power after Sunni extremist group Islamic State captured large parts of northern Iraq in June last year and Iraq’s top Shi’ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called for volunteers to fight Islamic State, which soon declared a caliphate straddling the border with neighbouring Syria.


As the Shi’ite militias’ popularity surged, Abadi publicly lamented the lack of Western support. He made plain his desperate desire for help earlier this month after Iran and Russia opened offensives against the group in Syria. The prime minister said he would welcome Russian air strikes in Iraq as well. Abadi is looking not just to hurt Islamic State but to bolster his own position in Iraq.


The Shi’ite militias, which dominate most frontlines, say they support the government and pose no threat to Iraq’s minority Sunni sect. The Popular Mobilisation Committee, or Hashid Shaabi, as the militias are collectively known, belongs “to the Iraqi government,” said Naim al-Aboudi, a spokesman for the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia. “The Hashid doesn’t represent a sect. It represents all Iraqis.”


But the militias make no secret of their independence from Baghdad. Militia leader Amiri warned in a televised interview last month that if the Shi’ite groups did not approve of U.S. military operations in Iraq, “We can go to Abadi and the government and … pressure them: ‘Either you will do this, or we will do that.’” Amiri did not specify what action his group would take.


Abadi took office facing many challenges. He inherited a military that had all but collapsed. Three months before he became prime minister, Islamic State overran the army in Mosul, the largest city in the north. At its height, the militant group, which has used rape as a weapon of terror and executed Iraqi Shi’ites and Christians, controlled nearly a third of Iraq.


Early on, Abadi struggled to work out what was left of the army and federal police. “There wasn’t really a good picture of how many soldiers, how many police he really had, and who the hell is really on the rolls,” said Lieutenant

General Mick Bednarek, the senior U.S. military officer in Iraq from 2013 until July. Bednarek said Abadi and his defence minister worked hard on the issue and by November last year recognised the military was “ill prepared and lacking in leadership."


Abadi also turned to the militias for support. “He doesn’t like it,” said Bednarek, who retired in late August. “But he has to, because Iraqi security forces can’t do it alone.”


The Hashid Shaabi now commands more than 100,000 fighters. On paper, it receives over $1 billion from Iraq’s state budget. Two Iraqi officials said the militias get additional funding from other sources, including Iran, religious clerics and political figures, but declined to give details. U.S. military officials believe large amounts of funding come from Iran.


The Shi’ite militias have also made inroads within the government security apparatus.


The Fifth Iraqi Army Division now reports to the militias’ chain of command, not to the military’s, according to several U.S. and coalition military officials. The division rarely communicates with the Defence Ministry’s joint operation command, from which Abadi and senior Iraqi officers monitor the war, the officials said.


Iraqi security officers, Iraqi politicians and U.S. and Western military officers say the Interior Ministry has become another militia domain. The ministry came under the influence of Shi’ite militias previously, in 2005, and was accused of running death squads.


Today it is run by Mohammed Ghabban, a senior member of the Badr militia. Badr fighters fought alongside Iranian soldiers in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war. 

One of the most important things to understand about this is that the US largely supports (in public at least) the Shiite militias fighting ISIS in Iraq. After all, to not support them publicly would be to support ISIS publicly and as we've seen, the US is hell bent on keeping up the charade that Washington hasn't and isn't providing aid to extremists. 

Indeed, these are the same Shiite militias who dropped off an Abrams tank in the Green Zone for service last week. 

And so you can begin to see just how absurd the situation is. The US is now supplying anti-tank weapons and other munitions to the rebels fighting in Aleppo and those weapons are being used to kill these very same Shiite militiamen who are driving US tanks, fighting alongside the Iraqi army, and indirectly receiving US assistance just across the border in Iraq.

So thanks to Washington's twisted foreign policy, they are friends on one side of the Syria-Iraq border and mortal enemies on the other.

Of course they're fighting ISIS in both countries. So what accounts for the Pentagon's schizophrenia you ask? Simple: Bashar al-Assad doesn't run Iraq. 

We leave it to readers to speculate on what will happen once Assad is restored and ISIS vanquished. That is, Iran's Shiite militias pretty much are the Iraqi military and they also effectively control the government, so once there's no longer an excuse (i.e. ISIS) for the US to stick around, we wonder whether Washington will be content to simply cede the country it "liberated" to the Ayatollah. 

Here are some recent images of the Shiite militias the Quds Force controls in Iraq:

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Flying Wombat's picture

Senator John McCain: Warmongering Servant To Empire Interests That Destroy Republican Party Core Principles Of Championing Liberty, Maintaining A Constitutional Republic and Limited Government w/ Lower Taxes (You Pay For The Empire) While Making America Less Secure

TND Editorial: By Eric Dubin


jeff montanye's picture

i can just imagine the foam spitting going on in washington and tel aviv over that fellow Qassem Soleimani leading the charge on aleppo.  this axis of evil will no doubt bear any burden and pay any price to assassinate him, since, after all, obama sees himself as really good at killing people.

change you can believe in.

BigJim's picture

Oh, I don't know. 15 Years ago the whole region was oppressed but generally ticking along. Now it's a festering, murderous mess, with Muslims slaughtering each other in vast numbes across Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria. The Zios in Tel Aviv probably pinch themselves every day to make sure they're not dreaming.

TAALR Swift's picture

How about "Who Controls Zerohedge?"

Revisionist History happens on ZH these days.

Sometimes, when a ZH blogger is banished, then so is their content. I can give examples, if you like.

This is either due to an external hack (and ZH has an IT security issue), or it is due to a Policy issue (dictated by one or more Tylers).

If it's a Policy issue, it is the wrong policy, because it goes against the libertarian grain and spirit that ZH proclaims to represent. It is also bad PR, because it rewrites existing texts and thus amounts to Revisionist History. It is the electronic equivalent of Book Burnings of past eras.

What has been written, MUST stand. Especially if it is non-libelous, and merely controversial in some circles.
Bottom line: Either ZH's IT is compromised, or at least one of its Directors/Tylers is.

OT or not, this is a core issue to ZH and its intellectual and journalistic integrity -- which must be preserved, if ZH is to keep its status for these virtues.

atomicwasted's picture

You might want to up your meds there, hoss!

quintago's picture

ZH loves to point out "as we correctly pointed out x days/weeks/months/years/decades/centuries ago". 

ZerOhead's picture

IMHO the most dangerous information on the internet today is the exposure of the fake East vs. West dialectic.

So as long as I see Brandon Smith's articles published here then my bet is that ZH is (probably) not controlled opposition...

arby63's picture

Probably owned by Glen Beck and Howard Stern. Just a guess.

ZerOhead's picture

And the second most dangerous information is this...

"Whenever a bank makes a loan, it simultaneously creates a matching deposit in the borrower’s bank account, thereby creating new money."


ZerOhead's picture

And this just for the downvoters...


As the American Armada heads for the South China Sea to confront the evil Chinese Empire created by Kissinger, Rockefeller and the globalist bankers...

jimmytorpedo's picture

When you write "all wars are bankers wars" in bold you should include the link.

Or make it the link.


Just saying,... you've been around long enough to know that.

jeff montanye's picture

for many it is enlightening although not really confidential information.

as to the east west conflict being fake, i'm not as sure.  certainly global organizations, particularly profit-making ones, try to control and drain both sides.  but for the millions who have been killed recently in these wars, the many millions more driven from their homes and the scores evens hundreds of millions whose lives have been reduced because of the wars, the sanctions, the onerous taxes and oppression, it must seem real enough.

ZerOhead's picture

I think that Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman NOT KNOWING HOW MONEY IS CREATED speaks volumes of the ignorance on this matter.


bonin006's picture

Given what I see Putin doing, Vs Brandon Smith's harping that there is no difference between east and west, and also his talk about a magic suit that will make you invisible to drones, I am starting to wonder if he might be part of a USSA sleeper cell set up to trap people that want freedom.

Ms No's picture

If I was a Tyler I would disappear anyone who hit the complain about abuse button, or put it up to a vote.  That would be funny as hell.

Another one bites the dust.... another one bites the dust.

I have had a couple of my comments disappear a while back and I can't remember what the content was, at the time a lots of comments were vanishing and there did seem to be some glitches in the system. I have only seen one comment disappear of somebodies in which I remember the contents and it had a link which appeared to be pro nazi stuff.  I think the Nazis were banker/Bush funded douche bags so that's not why mine went down the memory hole.  For whatever it is worth. 

ZerOhead's picture

Just for the record Grand Ayatollah Khamenei doesn't control squat in Iran. Iran is run by 50 or so very religious and very rich Mullahs who stash their loot in GCC and Western banks because apparently that is what the prophet Mohammed would have wanted.


jeff montanye's picture

interesting link.  thanks.

it had u.s. per capita gdp as $37,000 or so and most other sources have over $50,000.  this is not a statistics quibble so much as wondering that if the average family of four commands $200,000 (less depletion and amortization, of course) annual income, there certainly seem like an awful lot of people with less.  that top 1% is really doing alright.

average/per capita is often not what it seems at first glance, is it?

bonin006's picture

If Bill Gates and 1000 bums were in the same room, they would all be millionares, on average.

will ling's picture
will ling (not verified) Oct 21, 2015 5:34 PM

vlad of course; justifiably so. pour it on vlad!

ghostzapper's picture

Upon encircling ISIS I recommend that they destroy the Toyotas purchased by Langley.  Seems kinda silly to confiscate those and add them to the inventory glut in the U.S. while trying to keep the "QE flow" going indirectly with new auto loans that annihilate the sheep with "affordable" seven year loans.  

socalbeach's picture

They're already doing that:


Al-Huwayqa Quarter (Var: Hawiqa):  A perfectly fired SS-26 missile struck a major “command-and-control” HQ for ISIS called “Tal Al-‘Arabaat” which contained a huge communications center loaded with Turk-supplied, American-manufactured, equipment and 18 vehicles including mostly Toyota pickups with Croatian-manufactured 23mm cannons.  The area is to the north, its demolition representing a new game-changing technology the rats have not seen yet, but, will see much more of in the near future.

blue51's picture

Maybe Putin will post some of the captured Toyota Machine Guns, Vin numbers. Make tracking easier.

netpounder's picture

Have people forgotten the movie Syriana already?  Coincidence?



H. Perowne's picture

"You're the Canadian . . ."

oddjob's picture

"its time we put some distance between ourselves and Bob'"

arby63's picture

Who cares who controls Iraq anymore. Hell, who cares much about anything in the Middle East. If one were to take a step or two back from the constant barrage of useless information then one would conclude this: WHO CARES?

Care about oil? Sure, but the fuckers will sell it anyway.

Care about jews? Sure, but the fuckers hate each other anyway.

Care about terrorists? Sure, but the fuckers are not new. Been around forever. Low intelligence. It's good when they blow themselves up.

Scared of Muslim terrorists? Nope. Grow a fucking pair of nuts.

Worry about Russin influence in the ME? Nope. They are cheap bastards too and will sell to the highest bidder. Sort of cool.

Here's my take: Fuck it. Let's start building fun shit again and have more fun. I want a 700HP muscle car that's affordable. I want every single person who works for the EPA to die an agonizing death. I want congressmen to make $0 and be in session only 20 days per year. And so on and so forth....

Do I care about Iraq? No. I do not. Oh, and I was there. Just sayin...

dogismycopilot's picture

Iraq is 10% of the world's known oil reserves.

Probably larger than Saudi and more like 15-20%

Most of the Anbar province hasn't even been mapped with seismic.

MaxThrust's picture

There are a few issues with the Zerohedge site and no feedback option is available to inform the Tylers/FSB about these issues.


Exalt's picture

Tylers and Marlas, for love of Fight Club... please run this story. I beg you good sir and or sirs and or lady and or ladies.


jeff montanye's picture

thanks for the link.  as per usual, bibi is full of poop:

"Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time. He wanted to expel the Jews," Mr Netanyahu told the World Zionist Congress.  "And Haj Amin al-Husseini (grand mufti of jerusalem in 1941) went to Hitler and said: ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here.’ ’So what should I do with them?’ he asked. He said: ‘Burn them.’"

i'm guessing hitler wanted the jews to keep working for free until they died to help his war effort.  why would he let them go?  they were an asset with value and, as the israeli historian cited at the end of the link acknowledges, hitler wanted to exterminate them and said so at least as early as 1939.  what better way than working their lives out for the third reich?

i feel so good that bibi and barack are leading us.


jtg's picture

Here are the facts: When Amin al-Husseini met Hitler the Jews were already being exterminated. Amin then went to the Balkans to help form a Muslim division allied to the Nazis that massacred untold numbers of Serbians. Amin found out that thousands of Jewish young in eastern Europe were being allowed to leave for the Middle East. Amin then appealed to Himmler (or another person at that level, not Hitler) to not let them leave and instead exterminate them, which was done.

Now why would Netanyahu change the facts? I'm sure Jewish historians living today know the truth of it.


Ms No's picture

Interesting scenario, I guess we will have to see if the US doubles down on Iraq.  If the Shi'ites that have been fighting for the US and or ISIS see a possibility for the country to reclaim some form of near independence they could turn coat in an instant, they could turncoat in an instant for numerous reasons.

There is a good reason why land wars in Asia are stupid for an invading force, the US struggles to deploy 200,000 and the population of Iraq and Afghanistan are somewhere around 30 million a piece.  Paying mercenaries and terrorists has proved to be expensive and probably wont have lasting effects.  It would be hilarious if the invading interests were quagmired by Russia in Iraq.  Payback is a bitch. 

That interview Barry had recently where he said something to the effect that "Russia is spending money they don't have fighting in Syria, I don't consider that winning", applies to these clowns as well.  Russia learned from Afghanistan and they have sat out for the most part for the last ten years of stupidity and now they come in like this, quite brilliant really.  We may be the ones who can barely afford to keep going on like this.  

jtg's picture

"...the US is hell bent on keeping up the charade that Washington hasn't and isn't providing aid to extremists,"

Absolutely correct.

dogismycopilot's picture

I doubt many of you have been to Iraq lately, but I was just there.

Down south, when the Militia convoys role through town, the Police and Iraqi Army literally run away and hide. The militias are in charge.

The US and British wants the militias to die and fight and then go away (sound familiar as a strategy) and are just now waking up to the fact that the militias have no intention of going away after ISIS is defeated. You have just seen the Canadians fold like a wet tent as Trudeau will now bring back that time honored Canadian strategy – being a pussy.

The country is in a civil war but the US and UK can’t admit it and call their ‘experiment’ started by George Senior in 1991 a failure.

However, here are the brutal facts: the US cannot help Iraq anymore. The UK cannot save the day. If Al Abadi were smart, he would listen to the Militias, take the Russian offer of bombing ISIS and let the Russians and Iranians get on with it because only Russia and the Iranians can save Iraq from the well-funded, well-organized, and brutal as fuck ISIS made up of western and Saudi Jihadis.

In fact, the Russians and the Iranians will do the world a favor by killing these fuckers instead of trying ‘rehabilitate’ them as many weak minded Eurotrash nationals are asking. So yes, Al Abadi, fucking please, take the Russian and Iranian help because if you don’t you will be out on your ass by this time next year.

What is the US going to do? Pack up and go home? No, the US will not do that. They are bluffing. Except the only card game the US knows is UNO while everyone else is playing poker. No, the US can’t take their toys and go home because then ExxonMobil, Halliburton, Shell and BP might as well handover the keys to Rumaila, Majnoon, and West Qurna (world’s largest oilfields) to the Russians and Chinese to divvy up. The US will just turn into an Oil Field Police force which is probably not a bad thing.


So yes, Obama, you are a foreign policy genius. UNO!!!

onmail1's picture

Ultimately Iraq will side with Iran & Russia

Another major defeat for Satan America 

And a good laugh Hah ha