Amiri, Maliki looking for tribal support to topple Kadhimi

The decision to end the militias presence at the airport followed a prior decision to oust two leaders who occupy high-ranking positions in the Popular Mobilization Forces.
Saturday 26/09/2020
A file photo shows Iraqi militia commander Hadi al-Amiri attending the funeral of the Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani and the Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, January 4, in Baghdad. (REUTERS)
A file photo shows Iraqi militia commander Hadi al-Amiri attending the funeral of the Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani and the Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, January 4, in Baghdad. (REUTERS)

BAGHDAD –Intelligence sources in Iraq see signs the leader of the Badr Organization, Hadi al-Amiri, is reaching out to tribal circles in southern Iraq, and among officers within some security services, to explore the possibility of working to topple the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

The sources pointed out that Amiri’s activities have the clear support of the leader of the State of Law coalition, Nouri al-Maliki.

Amiri and Maliki are afraid that by the time the date of early June 2021, set by Kadhimi for the early elections, rolls in, they would have lost all of their popular base in the Shia community, which seems to be willing to support the prime minister more than any other  candidate in the coming polls.

Although members of parliament from the Amiri and Maliki blocs have asserted in the media that Kadhimi had pledged before taking office not to run in the upcoming elections and to refrain from endorsing any of the candidates, they nevertheless failed to back those claims with any tangible evidence, in addition to them coming from only one source.

Withdrawing confidence from the government through Parliament is also an option but may be impossible to pass, given the great support shown by the Sunni and Kurdish political forces for Kadhimi. The Shia forces then find themselves in a great dilemma, given that they are no longer in control of the prime minister’s position, which usually falls within their lot in the Iraqi quota system.

Hamid al-Mousawi, a representative for the Fateh Alliance, said that “the Shia community has become completely threatened” at the political level, and warned that “the Shias are being systematically targeted.”

He added that “the Shia forces admit their political failure, but they are not the only ones in power,” noting that Iraqi President Barham Salih had met with leaders of the Shia political forces recently and informed them that the United States “wants you to be subjugated.”

Observers say that keeping up a façade of absolute surrender to Teheran’s desires by Iran’s followers in Iraq may in the end have disastrous consequences for them.

Kadhimi is engaged in a crucial and decisive race to win the security decision in the country and implement his plans to restore the prestige of the state, after the jockeying of Iranian militias and of their political representatives in Baghdad to overthrow his government reached the point of accusing him of working for the United States and of being engaged in the process of normalising relations with Israel.

Recently, Kadhimi ordered the closure of the offices of the Popular Mobilization Forces and National Security at Baghdad International Airport, which is one of the largest centres of corruption and partisan extortion, leaving only two state institutions in control of the airport, namely the Ministry of Interior and the Intelligence Services.

The decision to end the militia’s presence at the airport followed a prior decision to oust two leaders who occupy high-ranking positions in the Popular Mobilization Forces and known for their close ties with Iran, namely Hamid al-Jazaery and Waad al-Qaddo.

Simultaneous security operations in Baghdad and the southern cities in pursuit of rogue weapons have angered the Iraqi militias affiliated with Iran and pushed them to launch a counter-media campaign targeting Kadhimi directly.

The airport offices of the National Security, the Popular Mobilization Forces, and the Integrity and Accountability movement have been used to extort millions of dollars from people wanted by the courts in exchange for facilitating their escape through Baghdad Airport. In some cases, these offices used their extensive powers to smuggle out wanted criminals by putting them on departing flights without showing their names on any passenger lists.

Recently, Baghdad airport has become a major relay for drug trafficking coming from Iran and transiting to other neighbouring countries, under the direct protection of the militias that use the official cover of the Popular Mobilization Forces to infiltrate government institutions.