Shiite Militias And Iran In Iraq

Shiite Militias and Iran in Iraq

Another US soldier was killed on Christmas Day, bringing the number of GIs killed in Iraq to one more than the number of persons killed in the 9/11 attacks.

AP reports that the British raided a police HQ and prison in Basra when they heard that the unit was infiltrated by Shiite militiamen and planning to kill their prisoners. Some of the released prisoners showed signs of torture. The British destroyed the prison.

Police found some 47 bodies in Baghdad. Two major bombing operations were conducted in the city, killing 17 and wounding dozens.

The US military conducted raids against the Badr Corps militia of the Shiite Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, in the course of which it arrested four Iranian officials. It had to let two of them go when it transpired that they were diplomats invited into Iraq by President Jalal Talabani, a close US ally. SCIRI and Badr were in exile in Iran for over two decades and have close ties to the Iranian regime. Nevertheless, the Bush administration hosted SCIRI leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim recently.

The US military has for the most part characterized the Badr corps as disciplined and not the main security problem in Iraq. US troops have never had an engagement with Badr. The Badr Corps has been accused of infiltrating the special police commandos of the Interior Ministry and of using that unit to engage in ethnic cleansing of Sunni Arabs they suspected of membership in the guerrilla movement.

That Badr had close ties to Iran was well known, so it is a little unclear what new developments could have provoked this raid.

The US has accused Iran of training Badr’s Shiite rival, the Mahdi Army, in Lebanon and of providing it with shaped charges. That these officials were with Badr instead does not advance that case, and may weaken it.

Talabani’s invitation is yet another wrinkle. I have long argued that Mam Jalal had close back channel relations with Tehran. Do the Peshmerga, the Kurdistan military, benefit from Iranian military advice, as well?

Stay tuned.