Both lawmakers and military insiders are concerned by what they see as the government’s continued arming and training of Iranian-backed fighters in Iraq, a move that is critically jeopardizing the stability of the region.
As the government gives out arms to militia groups, it is a very real danger that those weapons end up in the hands of Iranian-backed forces in Iraq, and could even be used (or shipped to) Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard. However, the State Department has continued the program – a holdover from the Obama Administration. The continued presence of a senior Obama administration officials in government as one of the primary drivers of this ongoing policy.
The consistent flow of American weapons and funds has helped to solidify Iran’s presence in key Iraqi territories and appears to directly conflict with the Trump administration’s newly outlined push to combat the Islamic Republic’s regional military efforts, which have included targeting U.S. forces in Syria and other locations.
Multiple sources accused the State Department of making “common cause” with the IRGC, which they say has benefited from the ongoing American efforts to arm and train Iraqi militia groups, many of which have direct ties to Iran.
Senior Trump administration officials acknowledged that they have seen evidence that some Iraqi forces on its blacklist are using American arms.
“We have seen reports that some U.S.-origin military equipment is being operated by Iraqi militia units that are not the approved end-users,” said a spokesman for the White House National Security Council. “We urge the Government of Iraq to expeditiously return this equipment to the full control of the Iraqi Army. All recipients of U.S. security assistance are fully vetted and subject to end-use requirements, The United States has strict standards to avoid providing security assistance to designated terrorist organizations, units with close ties to Iran, or units under suspicion of committing gross violations of human rights.”
The leaders on the Capitol Hill are currently pushing the Trump State Department to come clean about any possible interactions with Iranian-tied forces in Iraq.
Rep. Ron DeSantis, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is one of the several lawmakers who had recently disclosed the direct evidence of Iranian-backed fighters using American-made tanks and other military equipment in Iraq.
“The State Department should not be making common cause with the IRGC, [Iranian commander] Qassem Soleimeni, the [Iranian] Quds Force or Shia militias,” DeSantis had said, while explaining that these groups have long worked to thwart U.S. operations in the region.
“These groups were responsible for killing hundreds of U.S. troops in Iraq during our operations there last decade,” he further said. “Congress needs to get the facts about the relationship between our own State Department and these nefarious actors.”
Intelligence information circling around the Capitol Hill shows that multiple IRGC proxy groups have been operating under the Iraqi Ministry of Interior (MOI), which coordinates and doles out U.S. funding and equipment to various militia groups.