Iranian-Backed Iraqi Militias Form Coalition Ahead of Election

Iranian-backed militias announced they have formed a coalition prior to Iraq’s May parliamentary elections. The coalition is called al Fatah al Mubin (Manifest Victory) and is led by Hadi al Ameri, chief of the Badr Organization and current Iraqi parliamentarian, who has close ties to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The IRGC-backed coalition is very likely to shape the next Iraqi government, highlighting the new political order, Long War Journal reports.

Analysis of the coalition shows that Al Fatah is an Islamist coalition dominated by the political wings of the Iranian-backed groups of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), while most of its members have long had links to Iran. According to The Journal, the coalition consists of 18 groups and the Iranian-backed ones are providing a cover of legitimacy for themselves by using the cover of the coalition.

It demonstrates how the Iranian-backed network has evaded recent restrictions by Baghdad and Najaf’s top Shiite authority to separate arms from politics.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi, leader of the Nasr al Iraq (Victory of Iraq) coalition announced on January 14 the coalition with Fatah, hailing it as “cross-sectarian.” The move provoked criticism by many supporters who deemed it “abhorrent” and claimed it would “pave the way for the return of corruption and sectarianism.”

Only a day later, the alliance with Fatah fell apart, but a statement said that al Fatah was ready for another coalition with Abadi, since the first one broke up as a result of “technical” problems.

According to Iraqi media reports, Qods Force chief Qassem Soleimani brokered the initial deal between Abadi and Fatah. Soleimani attended a meeting in Baghdad on January 13 with Abadi, Amiri and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a U.S.-designated terrorist who is the de-facto leader of the PMF.

As Iraq’s elections draw near, Iran will use all means necessary to maintain and expand its influence on the Iraqi government by bolstering its network. The Iraqi state nowadays depends on the PMF, which is dominated by Iranian-backed formations, to provide security.