Iran-Backed Groups Form “The Mujahideen Alliance” to Contest Next Iraqi Elections

By Ahmad Majidyar | Fellow and Director of IranObserved Project - The Middle East Institute | Dec 1, 2017
Iran-Backed Groups Form “The Mujahideen Alliance” to Contest Next Iraqi Elections

With the fight against ISIS in Iraq almost over, Iran’s allies within the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (P.M.F.) are gearing up for next year’s parliamentary elections. In the latest effort, several Iranian-backed P.M.F. groups led by the Badr Organization  have formed a new political bloc, tentatively called the "The Mujahideen Alliance." In addition, the new alliance consists of pro-Iranian and anti-American groups Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, Harakat al-Nujaba, Kata’ib Hezbollah, Kata’ib Jund al-Imam, Kata’ib al-Tiar al-Rasali. It will also try to incorporate Sunni tribal groups from western Iraq.

Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq Spokesman Laith al-Adthari said that "there is a mutual understanding between the forces that participated in the defense of the nation" and added they are open "to all blocs and political factions" but that "the initial factions will be those that defended the soil of the homeland." 

Karim al-Nouri, a commander and spokesman of the Badr Organization, said the details of the new Mujahideen Alliance, made up of eight P.M.F. groups, are currently unclear, but insisted that "there will certainly be no alliance with the State of Law coalition.”

Ahmed al-Asadi, who just resigned as P.M.F. spokesman, will serve as the spokesperson for the new political alliance. Asadi’s Kata'ib Jund al-Imam is part of the coalition. 

The Iraqi newspaper, Al-Jarida wrote that the Mujahideen Alliance is an Iranian effort to impose its will on Iraq as the war against ISIS is coming to an end. It added that the Badr Organization, Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, and Harakat al-Nujaba "constitute the nucleus of the Mujahideen Alliance.”

Comment: The Iraqi government has announced that it will hold the parliamentary and provincial elections on May 15 next year. The participation of the P.M.F. groups will likely trigger controversy in the elections. While leaders of the P.M.F. groups may resign from their official positions, they will still be indirectly in charge of the military wing of their respective groups.

In a meeting on Wednesday, the Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General for Iraq, Mr. Ján Kubiš, and Iraq’s top Shiite authority, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, agreed that the P.M.F. should not be involved in the elections. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has also recently banned militia leaders from participating in the vote.

The P.M.F. consists of militia forces largely from Shiite but also other Iraqi ethnic and religious groups. While some units within the alliance are Iraqi nationalists and follow Sistani, many prominent units have close ties with the Iranian clerical establishment and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps. Despite P.M.F.’s diversity, it is the Iran-backed militia units within the coalition – such as Kata'ib Hezbollah, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, the Badr Organization – that wield significant influence over Iraqi security and politics. Many of these groups have also engaged in deadly attacks against American troops in Iraq.