Trump Administration pushes for end to Iran-supported militias in Iraq
CIA Director Mike Pompeo has said that he sent a warning letter to Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Qods Force, over Iranian operations in Iraq.
Pompeo told a defense forum in California on Saturday that he made clear Washington will hold Tehran responsible for any attacks on U.S. interests by Iranian-supported forces:
I sent a note. I sent it because he had indicated that forces under his control might in fact threaten U.S. interests in Iraq. He refused to open the letter — didn’t break my heart to be honest with you.
The exchange follows the defeat of the Islamic State in three years of battles in Iraq, which have included both Iranian and US units and advisors. The Qods Force is responsible for foreign operations of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
The Fars agency, close to the Guards, cited an Iranian military official that “our commander refused to receive the letter, saying we don’t have anything in common to talk about”.
On October 22, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on Iran to halt its backing of mainly-Shia Iraqi militias, known as Popular Mobilization Units, saying it was time for Iranian military advisors and fighters “to go home and allow the Iraqi people to regain control…now that the fight against [the Islamic State] is coming to a close”.
3 Political Prisoners Given Total of 23 Years
Three political prisoners, rearrested last year, have been sentenced to a total of 23 years behind bars.
An “informed source” said that a Revolutionary Court judge sentenced Mohammad Banna Zadeh Amirkhizi to 11 years prison and two years banishment to the city of Nikshahr in Sistan and Balouchestan, southeastern Iran. Majid Asadi was sentenced to six years in prison plus two years living in exile in city of Borazjan in southern Iran, and Payam Shakiba was sentenced to six years in prison.
The trio were charged with “propaganda against the ruling system” and “congregating and collusion intended for acting against national security”.
Asadi, Amirkhizi, and Shakiba were rearrested in February and tried last month.
A former students rights activist, Asadi, 35, was first arrested after the protests over the disputed 2009 Presidential elections. He served four years in prison before release in 2015.
Payam Shakiba, 30, also a former student rights activist, was arrested in 2009 for his role in disclosing sexual abuse of a female student by an official at Zanjan’s university. He was sentenced to six years in prison.
Mohammad Amirkhizi, 63, was arrested in 2009 and charged with ties to the “terrorist” Mojahedin Khalq Organization. He was released in 2014 after five years’ detention.