Attitude Adjustment: Are the US and Iran-Backed Militias Getting Friendlier?
Last week Captain Amir al-Saadi, whose unit is based in the Habbaniyah camp in the Anbar province, received a phone call that made him very happy.
Finally his troops, who were fighting the extremist group known as the Islamic State in the province, were going to get the weapons he had asked for months ago.
“It’s a miracle,” al-Saadi said. “Finally we’ve been able to get anti-tank weapons that are capable of destroying armoured vehicles. The Islamic State group has been using them against us by filling them with explosives and we haven’t been able to stop the vehicles because we didn’t have heavy enough weaponry. The government doesn’t have these kinds of weapons,” al-Saadi said. “But we heard that the US would supply us with them.”
Al-Saadi believes that his unit is finally getting the heavy weapons they wanted for so long because of “an agreement between the Shiite factions and the US that was brokered by the federal Iraqi government.” Previously, al-Saadi thinks, the US wouldn’t even send light weapons to the Iraqi army because they were so worried about these falling into the hands of Shiite militias. All this now seems to have changed, al-Saadi says.
In Iraq, criticism of the US’ role in the fight against the Islamic State, or IS, group had been going on for weeks, even months. Leading members of the Shiite Muslim militias involved had been critical of the US’ role in Iraq’s security crisis. They had even accused the US of aiding the Islamic State, or IS, group.
But over the past few days there seems to have been a serious attitude adjustment. The Shiite Muslim militias, which are mostly made up of volunteers and not part of the official Iraqi army but play an extremely important role in combatting the IS group anyway, have stopped criticising the US’ role through their various media outlets. Rumours spread by leaders of the militias, where they accused the US of dropping supplies to the IS group and thereby assumed they were allied with them, have not been repeated again.