Last Week the United States State Department released its annual report on Human Rights practices in Iraq, completely ignoring US violations and how the US created the current circumstances leading to the violations they criticize.
As with most reports of their kind, the 59 page report leaves out US involvement and context which may incriminate the United States role in the country to begin with. A special focus, as is the case in most of such reports, is placed upon sectarian violence and has birthed a string of articles, in the mainstream Western press, on the problem of Iranian-backed Shia militias.
It is made clear throughout the report that murder, torture and the plethora of other crimes said to have been documented, had been committed by groups varying from Daesh to the Iraqi police forces. But without any doubt, it is clear that next to Daesh, Iranian-backed forces are painted as the greatest threat to human rights in Iraq. Often, when the PMF/PMU/Hashd al-Shaabi are mentioned in the document, there is a failure to pinpoint which group within the PMF were responsible and when they are named, the relevance of their crimes to Iran are not stated.
It is perhaps indicative of the NATO strategy in Iraq, that just after the report was released, the media fell into line with reports on how Iraq’s greatest problem is Iranian-backed Shia militias. In fact the main distributors of this information, which led to articles finding their way into the likes of The Independent, have been the Associated Press (AP) and Reuters.
For those not already aware, the likes of the Associated Press (AP), Reuters and AFP act as the big distributors of news content to all the most popular mainstream and even independent networks. This essentially means that what you see on BBC, Fox News, CNN broadcast television, as well as their main news websites, will every single day have stories fed to them by these distributor organisations. So when you see the Associated Press producing negative stories on the presence of Shia militias in Iraq, immediately after the State Department has released a damning report on these groups, it is obvious that there’s a well structured campaign of disinformation being spread.
As well as working to provide a justification for the expansion of the US’s role in Iraq, with the deployment of more troops through a pact with NATO, the US attempts to further breed sectarianism.
In the latest speech, delivered this Wednesday, by the Secretary General of Lebanese Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the issue of the US-Israeli government plot in the region was addressed. Nasrallah stated that the US whips up sectarian hatred between Sunni and Shia in order to achieve its goals, one of which being the expansion of Israel beyond its currently held territory. The Hezbollah leader stated that this strategy of painting the conflict in Yemen as being sectarian in nature is also part of this divisive campaign, geared to pit Sunni against Shia.
It is interesting to note that the sectarian warfare between Sunni and Shia only really came as a result of the invasion, occupation, and state-building efforts in Iraq. Prior to 2003, Iraq was a relatively secular country, despite Saddam Hussein being of Sunni origin, this played little to no role in his politics or the way he governed the country.
The US managed to turn the Iraqi insurgency against its occupation of the country, largely composed of Sunni Saddam loyalists, into a Sunni-Shia civil war. This Sunni-Shia sectarian hatred was perhaps further compounded by the fact that the US had decided to build a confessionalist government in Iraq, which was to be later led by a small number of heavily corrupted elites from the majority Shia community of Iraq.
When the State Department writes its human rights reports each year, it fails to account for its role in aiding the rise of sectarian militia groups and the corrupt authorities in the country. It also rids itself of responsibility for the rise of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, which did not exist under Saddam Hussein, and then ignores its role in manufacturing an environment out of which Daesh later grew. Then again, if we focus on Syria, the United States government quickly took to pushing the narrative of a Sunni-Shia war, which never was.
If we turn back and look at history, it is very clear, Sunni-Shia wars were nowhere to be seen in the modern era, prior to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. But now, with Iran being allied with Iraq, this is the narrative which suits the US; that for sectarian reasons Iran is attempting to carve its chunk out of the country, when the Islamic Republic’s role is clearly motivated by politics.
The bottom line is this, Iran only has the power it currently does inside Iraq because of the US war which destroyed the country. Due to the purposefully weak and corrupt system, built by the US government, Iraq has become many countries inside of one, in a way, with various foreign powers – including the US government – working to win influence. The PMF, or “Iranian-backed Shia militias” as Western media calls them, were armed and trained by Iran, in order to fight and destroy Daesh. The same Daesh that also would not exist if it was not for the US’s illegal war on Iraq.