By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
US mulls how best to Control pro-Iran Factions in Mideast
As the administration of US President Donald Trump looks ahead to a post-Islamic State (IS) status in the Middle East, it is clear there are concerns over the potential military role the armed organizations backed by Iran could play.
Stuart Jones, the top US diplomat for the Middle East, recently told the Associated Press the United States “is still forming a ‘comprehensive Iran policy’ that addresses Iran's support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and militant groups in Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.”
Meanwhile, according to Kuwaiti Al-Rai newspaper, Trump promised Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates, during the prince's May 15-17 visit to Washington, that the United States is working to impose sanctions on the Iranian allies who are involved in terrorism — including allies in the Iraqi and Lebanese governments.
A Saudi delegation to the United Nations earlier this month also expressed concern that Iranian militias continue to pose a threat to stability in the region.
It's evident the United States and the Gulf states are worried about the wide Iranian influence in these countries, be it through political leaders, armed organizations or militias. In Lebanon, the biggest player is Hezbollah, backed by Iran. In Iraq, there are armed parties and factions known for their close relationship with Tehran and for receiving financial and political support from it.
Rayan al-Kaldani, the leader of the Babylon Brigade, which is a part of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), told Al-Monitor, “The relationship between the PMU and Iran is not based on dependence, as the Gulf states like to promote.” He noted, “Tehran helped Iraq in its war on [IS], and this has been recognized by the Western parties themselves.”