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Iraqi groups threaten to intervene in Israel's war on Gaza

Iraqi armed groups threaten to intervene against Israel's war on Gaza
5 min read
11 October, 2023
Iraqi factions aligned with Iran have threatened to enter the Hamas-Israel conflict if Israel escalates attacks on Hezbollah in rapidly escalating tensions, heightening fears of a broader regional conflict.
The Iraqi resistance ax threaten that they reached an agreement to intervene directly in case of clashes between Hezbollah Lebanese faction and Israel. [Getty]

The Iraqi factions allied with Iran threatened to partake in the latest Israeli war on Gaza if Israel further escalated its attacks and began to target Lebanon's Hezbollah.

As a massive and devastating Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip continues after Hamas's surprising military attack, "Al-Aqsa Flood," started on Saturday, tensions also grew along southern Lebanon, where the powerful Iran-backed armed militia Hezbollah and the Israeli army exchanged fire.  

Since Saturday, leaders of armed groups in Baghdad have repeatedly stated their "readiness" to intervene and remarked they are "monitoring the situation". They have warned that they are considering targeting the interests of the United States if it decides to enter the war alongside Israel.

The Secretary-General of Iran-backed Kata'ib Hezbollah, Abu Hussein al-Hamidawi, said, "We are here to defend our people in Gaza, the occupied territories and the vulnerable. Our missiles, drones, and special forces are on high alert. They are ready to deliver precise strikes to the American enemy in their bases and disrupt their interests if they intervene in this battle. If necessary, known locations of the Zionist entity and its accomplices will be targeted by our firepower."

In this context, a prominent leader in the Iraqi Kata'ib Hezbollah stated to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, The New Arab's Arabic-language sister publication, that a meeting took place in Baghdad on Monday evening involving representatives from seven factions known as "The Resistance Axis".

 They reached an agreement to intervene directly in case of clashes between Hezbollah Lebanese faction and Israel," the source claimed, wishing not to be named.   

The military capabilities of the Iraqi factions in Syria will be swiftly moved closer to the battleground, including artillery, missiles, equipment, and personnel, the source also added. 

Similarly, Kazem al-Fartousi, the spokesperson for the Saraya Sayyid al-Shuhada, one of the prominent Iranian-backed Iraqi factions, also noted an agreement has been reached among "The Resistance Axis" to target US bases and interests in Iraq and the region if the US joins Israel in the conflict. 

Furthermore, a prominent member of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), led by Akram al-Kaabi, stated to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that they are anticipating the arrival of Iran's Quds Force commander Ismail Qaani in Iraq for consultations on the current developments in Palestine and southern Lebanon. 

He also mentioned ongoing communication with officials in Hezbollah, who have informed them about the latest developments and the party's actions in this context.

For his part, Iraqi nationalist Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Tuesday asked the Arab countries to work hard to break the Israeli suffocating blockade on Gaza civilians. He vowed he would supply Gaza civilians with water either via Syria, Lebanon, or Egypt. He also strongly rebuked several Arab leaders and countries for their normalised ties with the Israeli occupation. 

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However, an Iraqi security expert, Mukhlad Hazim, reported to a local Iraqi news site that the Iraqi factions are closely monitored by US forces, and any of their movements may be targeted directly before they reach their intended confrontation locations.

"The situation in Lebanon is very challenging, and we do not expect Hezbollah to open a full-front confrontation with Israel. Similarly, the armed factions present in Syria are not expected to be allowed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime to use Syrian territory to open a front in the Golan Heights," Hazim added.

He considered that "the threats issued by various Iraqi factions are subject to various security, military, and even political calculations, and any movement by these factions may be tracked and targeted, whether in Iraq or Syria. Therefore, there is difficulty in the movement of these factions towards the battleground in Palestinian territories."

The Secretary-General of the PMF, Akram al-Kaabi, issued a brief statement on Sunday, saying, "Any intervention by the United States or any country against the Palestinian people will face a decisive military response."

On his part, Qais al-Khazali, the Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq group's leader, clarified in a Sunday statement their readiness for intervention, not just monitoring events. At the same time, Hadi al-Amiri, the head of the Fatah Alliance and a prominent figure in the governing Coordination Framework in Iraq, threatened to target US interests if it intervened on Israel's side during the war on Gaza.

Kamaran Mantik, professor of political sciences at The University of Salahadine, told TNA that the Gaza-Israel conflict is intertwined with a "global war" ongoing among the superpowers, regional powers and armed factions.

"This war is part of restructuring the world system and rearranging power balance all over the globe. Further escalations in the Hamas-Israel conflict are based on how states across the Middle East, including Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Turkey, and Iraq, could dare to be directly involved in the war," Mantik opined.

"The current Gaza-Israel war is the start of a big world war, which, opposite to the two past world wars, is developing via proxy wars. Therefore, all the related forces - including the Iraqi factions - are bound to the regional and global axes of power, and hence, they could not participate in the war directly," he argued.

He also said that if Israel were to make further escalations, then it would develop to include trespassing the Lebanon-Syria front to reach Iraq and even Jordan, then it would involve Turkey and Iran.

He clarified that in all cases, he believes that encouraging the war in the Middle East may be an attempt to reduce the Western pressures on the Russia-Ukraine war. 

"I think it is early to anticipate direct involvement by other forces and countries outside the regional neighbours of Israel. However, big escalations in the war are very possible."