Kata'ib Hezbollah makes strange offer to train pro-Trump 'liberation movements'

Askari said, in a tweet, that the security advisers of the “Islamic Resistance” are ready to provide advice and training, directly and indirectly, to “the liberation movements” of the “Disunited States.”
Thursday 14/01/2021
Supporters of Iraq’s PMF and Hezbollah brigades stand by a poster of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani. (AFP)
Supporters of Iraq’s PMF and Hezbollah brigades stand by a poster of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani. (AFP)

BAGHDAD - In a provocative statement, a key leader of Iraq's Kata'ib Hezbollah militia reflected a strange disconnect from reality and ignorance of basic facts about the United States.

Abu Ali al-Askari, a security official of Kata'ib Hezbollah, said his militia, which is part of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), is ready to provide advice and training to US "liberation movements."

Askari wrote on Twitter that the security advisers of the "Islamic Resistance" are ready to provide advice and training, directly and indirectly, to "the liberation movements" of the "Disunited States."

He added that "special sites will be assigned for that purpose," but did not elaborate further.

The statement, analysts said, showed that the Kata'ib Hezbollah leader does not seem to realise that the "liberation movements," in reference to far-right American groups that stormed Capitol Hill earlier this month, claim that US President Donald Trump is the true winner of US elections and are clamouring for him to stay in power.

Askari also appears oblivious to the fact that Trump specifically targeted pro-Iranian Iraqi militias with sanctions and carried out a potent blow against Iran and its PMF allies by targeting and killing the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force Qassem Soleimani and his Iraqi associate Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis in January 2020.

The vociferously anti-American Iraqi militia is equipped with armoured Hummer cars and Bradley vehicles. The US army left these US-made vehicle in Iraq when its forces withdrew and in some cases, supplied them to the Iraqi army.

PMF member carries portraits of slain Iranian  commander Qasem Soleimani and Ayatollah Ali Sistani during a  procession on the anniversary of US strikes on bases of Hezbollah brigades near Al-Qaim.  (AFP)
PMF member carries portraits of slain Iranian  commander Qasem Soleimani and Ayatollah Ali Sistani during a procession on the anniversary of US strikes on bases of Kata'ib Hezbollah near Al-Qaim. (AFP)

Activists on social media mocked the pro-Iranian Iraqi militia leader's statements, describing him as disconnected from reality and having no knowledge of US political affairs. He has appears to have no grasp of the political identity of Trump's far-right supporters or the type of demands  they have made on the US president, which include launching decisive strikes against Iran, the militia's regional sponsor.

Kata'ib Hezbollah is a central faction that Washington accuses of targeting its embassy in Baghdad and US forces deployed in military bases throughout Iraq.

Last February, the Trump administration imposed new sanctions on Ahmad al-Hamidawi, the secretary-general of Kata'ib Hezbollah, with the aim of "tightening the pressure" on Tehran and its allies.

The US State Department labelled Hamidawi "a specially designated global terrorist," froze any assets he might possess in the United States and criminalised any American dealings with him.

The United States has ratcheted up pressure on pro-Iran Iraqi militias in recent months. It most recently sanctioned the head of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), Faleh al-Fayyadh, for his “involvement in human rights violations,” after it sanctioned pro-Iran militia leaders from within and outside the PMF accused of firing rockets at US sites.

Experts say these sanctions are likely to be particularly embarrassing for Baghdad, given that the PMF, made up of dozens of Shia militias, is an officially-sanctioned body that only nominally takes orders from Iraq's commander in chief, who is the prime minister.

According to sources, the US has a list of names of individuals that the United States could hold responsible for attacking the US Embassy or other sites, and may still target them in quick retaliatory strikes.