A prominent Iranian-backed commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Force (P.M.F.) has called for the withdrawal of American troops from the country following the defeat of the Islamic State. “We will adopt a parliamentary decision to pull out all American troops” Hadi al-Ameri, the head of the Badr Organization, said in an exclusive interview with Iran’s Press TV. He emphasized that the P.M.F. will not allow a single U.S. soldier to remain in Iraq now that ISIS is being driven out of its last pockets in the country. “As for the role of international intelligence we are only asking that they stop the influx of foreign terrorists at the time when we are exerting intelligence efforts. We would like all international and Arab countries to be serious in halting the influx of terrorists into Iraq and Syria,” he added.
Separately, another P.M.F. commander alleged that Washington is plotting to assassinate P.M.F. leaders. "Hashd al-Shaabi has changed all US plans and has changed all previous equations. Iraq will no more go under disintegration and this has angered Washington," Jabbar al-Amouri was quoted as saying by the Arabic-language al-Alam news channel. "The US, supported by certain Persian Gulf littoral states financially and politically, is mulling plots to assassinate leaders of the Iraqi popular forces, though" he warned. Amouri claimed peace and stability cannot be achieved in Iraq as long as U.S. troops remain in the country.
Comment: With the common enemy – the Islamic State – militarily defeated in Iraq and Syria, Iranian-sponsored Shiite militia forces in the two countries have dialed up propaganda against the United States. Iran-linked P.M.F. commanders and I.R.G.C. outlets regularly accuse the U.S. military of aiding the Islamic State and call on Washington to withdraw its forces or face dire consequences. I.R.G.C.-affiliated Fars News Agency, for example, today published a video provided by Kata'ib al-Imam Ali, a unit within P.M.F. with ties to Iran, showing American helicopters allegedly rescuing ISIS terrorists from a battle front in al-Ba'aj, a town in Iraq’s Nineveh Province. Some P.M.F. commanders have also threatened to target American troops in Iraq if they do not leave the country after the fight against ISIS is over.
Tehran is also increasingly pressuring the Baghdad government to set a timetable for the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Last month, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei told visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Tehran that he should not trust the United States as a reliable partner in the fight against terrorism. “The Americans themselves created Daesh [Islamic State]. But now that the terrorists are defeated by the Iraqi government and people, they pretend to be supportive and helpful. There is no doubt that they will harm Iraq again whenever there is an opportunity,” Khamenei reportedly told the Iraqi leader.