Iraqi parties warn against ground invasion by anti-ISIS coalition


Iraqi soldiers take part in a military training exercise in the mainly Shiite southern city of Basra on September 14, 2014, before being deployed to the north of the city. (Photo: AFP-Mohammed Ali)

The “international coalition” fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has renewed disputes between Iraq’s National Alliance bloc and other parties represented in the government after Baghdad welcomed foreign intervention that aims to wipe out the extremist group.

Baghdad – Iraq has witnessed many protests and fiery speeches in the past few days that reminded the public of Iraqi militias’ fight against US forces. This comes as religious authorities in Najaf warned against the violation of Iraq’s sovereignty, and called on international forces to coordinate the fight against terrorist groups with the Iraqi government.

On Friday September 19, religious authorities spoke against the risk “of transforming the foreign assistance in the fight against ISIS into an attempt to threaten Iraq’s independence,” stressing that the Iraqi armed forces and volunteer paramilitary groups are capable of protecting the country.

On September 20, the Sadrist Movement held a protest warning against the return of US forces into Iraq. This was only two days after a speech was delivered by the movement’s leader, Muqtada al-Sadr, who threatened to fight against the international coalition forces in case of a ground invasion.

A number of other parties also opposed any foreign troops stepping foot on Iraqi soil in the fight against ISIS.Leader of the group Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (The People of Righteousness) Qais al-Khazali warned of Washington’s attempts to return to Iraq. He stated that, “America and all other parties in the alleged coalition should not think that Iraq is an easy matter and that the Iraqi people are so naive that they would fall for your tricks,” referring to a “conspiracy” that may bring US forces back into Iraq.

Khazali warned that the factions of the resistance “will give their best to protect the sovereignty of the country,” a clear indication that his armed militia, the Abu Fadl al-Abbas Brigade, is ready to fight against any foreign presence in Iraq.

Secretary General of the Badr Organization Hadi al-Amiri – who recently gained widespread recognition for leaving his office at the ministry and donning a military uniform to head to the Diyala camps and join the fight against ISIS – also warned the government from “co-opting the accomplishments made by the armed groups who liberated Diyala, most parts of Salahuddin, and parts of Kirkuk.”

These parties also slammed the government for expressing its gratitude for any coordinated international effort that seeks to eliminate ISIS, although the government later opposed any foreign intervention on the ground.

In a press interview, Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, said “international support will be through airstrikes and through tracking the source of the terrorist group’s funding, while mobilizing international political support that aims to put an end to terrorism which targets everyone.”

For her part, MP Zeinab al-Sahlani, member of the Ahrar bloc, said “the government should have taken its decision in coordination with all the other parties under the National Alliance, in order to reach a common vision to fight terrorist groups.” She added that international support should come in the form of providing the Iraqi army with weapons and not on an “open-ended military intervention.”

Karim al-Nouri, an advisor for the secretary general of Badr Organization, pointed to political divisions among the National Alliance parties about how to deal with the US-led international anti-ISIS alliance.

“Armed Iraqi groups were able to recapture large swathes of territory that were under ISIS control in record time,” he said, adding that the international alliance will not be able to liberate the cities under ISIS control without a ground invasion.

“A ground invasion will not be hard for the Iraqi resistance,” Nouri warned.

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