Iraqi tribes 'offered guns and training by Jordan'

Iraqi tribes 'offered guns and training by Jordan'
3 min read
06 April, 2015
Tribal leaders in Anbar tell al-Araby al-Jadeed that Amman's government has reached out in an effort to counter the IS group and rising Iranian influence in Iraq.
The popular mobilisation militias have proven controversial in Sunni circles [AFP]
Jordan has offered guns and training to tribal leaders in western and northern Iraq in an effort to counter the Islamic State group and offset Iranian influence in the country, sources have told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

Leaders say that Jordan recently has received delegations from Anbar, and that the iniative is supported by Saudi Arabia. The tribes are mostly Sunni but sources spoken to by al-Araby insist Arab states are not attempting to create a new alliance along sectarian grounds.

However, both Saudi Arabia and Jordan concerned by the rise of the "Popular Mobilisation" Shia militias who are aligned with Iran.

Abdul Salam al-Hamdani, a leading figure in the Bani Hamdan tribe, told al-Araby: "Certain Iraqi tribal leaders and a tribal council in Anbar received invitations to visit Jordan and positive messages on Jordan's willingness to train and arm the tribes' members to face the IS."

"Jordan and Saudi Arabia are leading a new kind of alliance in the region, aiming to revive Arabism or Iraqi nationalism. Their steps are also not limited to a certain sect; in fact, they include different Iraqi components aiming to counter the Iranian tide in the country," Hamdani explained.

An Iraqi tribal leader told al-Araby that six Iraqi tribal figures from Anbar, as well as others from Nineveh and Baghdad, met King Abdullah II invited the Islamic Council leader, Ammar al-Hakim, to visit Amman.

"Jordan's king decided to openly support the tribes of Anbar in order to face the IS and block the presence of Popular Mobilisation militias in the province adjacent to Jordan," Nazem Inad al-Juhaishi of Anbar told al-Araby.

"Since the murder of Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kassasbeh, we met Jordanian officials three times. Our talks revolved around arming us to expel the IS from Anbar. We explicitly explained how the government refuses to arm or support us due to Iran's reservations on any power outside the framework of the Popular Mobilisation," Juhaishi said.
     Amman and Riyadh were generally leaning towards supporting our tribes against different challenges, namely the IS.
Nazem Inad al-Juhaishi, of Ambar

"We were told that Amman and Riyadh were generally leaning towards supporting our tribes against different challenges, namely the IS."

Jomaa Omar al-Mohan, a leading figure in Anbar's anti-IS tribal brigade of Fazaat al-Ahrar, told al-Araby: "The tribes have gone to the government seeking arms to face the IS, but it keeps refusing, even though it is well aware that it cannot defeat the group without our help."

He said the "main reason" behind the refusal was Qassem Suleimani, Iran's most prominent military commander who has campaigned in Iraq, telling the government to give weapons to the Shia militia instead.

"The US does not want to get involved in this, even though it can see our battles against the IS. That is why we found Jordan to be the best alternative.

"The support by Jordan and Saudi Arabia to help us face the IS will not infuriate Haidar al-Abadi's government, because the main aim is to fight the IS, unless they explicitly announce they do not want any power other than the Popular Mobilisation to shape Iraq post-IS," said Mohan.

"Iraq's Arab tribes are the Arabs' only bargaining chip that would prevent the loss of Iraq to Iran."

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.