Iran-backed militia groups have been taking advantage of US taxpayers’ money by strategically aligning themselves to arms of the Iraqi security forces, the Pentagon has alleged.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, the Pentagon’s inspector-general has told US congress that “officers sympathetic to Iranian or militia interests” are concentrated in the Iraqi Federal Police and the country’s Emergency Response Division, as well as the fifth and eighth divisions of the Iraqi Army.
Both the police and Emergency Response Division fall under the purview of the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, which has continued to receive US funding long after the invasion of 2003.
Concerns about the Badr Brigade, the IRGC-aligned, Iranian-led military arm of the Iranian Shia Islamic Party, infiltrating Iraqi security infrastructure have been voiced by some US politicians for years now. During the Donald Trump presidency the National Security Council took steps to cut off funding but is understood to have faced resistance from the Pentagon.
Rep. Joe Wilson, head of the Republican Study Committee’s national security taskforce in the House of Representatives, was quoted in the Free Beacon as saying: "The latest report by the inspector-general confirms that Iran and Iran-aligned militias continue to have strong ties to some elements of Iraq’s traditional security forces.
"The Biden administration should re-evaluate funding to Iraq’s Ministry of Interior as long as it includes Iranian-backed militias, such as the Badr Corps, which were responsible for the terrorist attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad."
A previous report by IranWire’s Arabic team revealed there are more than 18 militias affiliated with Tehran based inside in Iraq, most infamously the Popular Mobilization Forces, which has about 130,000 fighters divided into more than 35 factions.
The Iraqi government pays a million dinars in salaries, according to the latest figures, to all those officially registered with the PMF, which has an official headquarters in the Green Zone in the capital, Baghdad.
The Badr Corps is the most prominent of the PMF militias and its head has a close relationship with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, as well as high-ranking officials in the Iraqi army.
At the end of June 2021, Iraq witnessed a wave of escalation between American forces and the PMF following raids carried out by American planes targeting PMF bases on the Syrian-Iraqi border.