Iran Meddling Violently In Iraqi Affairs
Iran is still meddling violently in Iraqi affairs. This past week alone, Coalition Forces captured nine members of an Iranian-backed Shia terror group, "The League of the Righteous," during raids in Baghdad and Muthanna. One of the detainees was a senior member in charge of the group's logistics and financial operations. Last week, U.S. forces arrested Ali al-Lami, a senior official in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government, returning to Baghdad from Lebanon. Ali al-Lami is suspected of having ties to Iranian-backed Shi'ite militias and plotting a spectacular June bombing that killed 10 people, including four Americans.
ISW Research Manager, Marisa Cochrane, explains the persistent Iranian involvement in her most recent Iraq Report, Special Groups Regenerate, published this week. Cochrane explains how Iranian-backed Special Groups have prepared to return to Iraq to conduct a series of assassinations against Iraqi officials and launch spectacular attacks against U.S. targets. Special Groups Regenerate paper traces the way in which Special Groups used "train the trainer" programs inside Iraq to develop new capabilities that they attempted to use in the spring in Basra, Sadr City, and al Amarah. She explains how they built up their military power in order to launch an offensive against U.S. Forces and the Iraqi Government this spring, and how the Basra offensive precipitated their attack and threw off its timing.
She traces the flight of Special Groups leaders and fighters to Iran after their defeat in these operations, and she explains how they have used the summer in Iran to regroup, reorganize, and learn from their failures. Following reconsolidation and retraining in Iran, it is highly likely that Special Groups will return to Iraq and rebuild their networks, adopting new tactics to escalate violence accordingly. U.S. Forces and their Iraqi counterparts have a limited window to prepare for this eventual return and to mitigate the dangers that accompany it, and the recent arrests of militia members are important first steps in preventing the large-scale destruction planned by Special Groups.