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In Iraq, the growing hold of Shiite militias

Sitting on a thin mattress on the floor of a concrete block hut, in a makeshift camp in the middle of the Anbar desert, in western Iraq, Taleb Al-Janabi points to a mobile geolocation application by satellite, the transformations that took place at Jurf Al-Sakhr. “The militias (Shiites) destroyed homes, then farms and farms, except in the downtown area they occupy. It is said that they have set up military camps, secret prisons, factories and fish farms. We can see security vehicles around schools, we think they are used as prisons ”, speculates the young Sunni of 26 years, trying to imagine what is happening in his locality, 80 kilometers downstream of the Euphrates.

No one, among the 85,000 members of the Janabi tribe who fled the city during the fighting against the Islamic State (IS) organization in June 2014, nor even among the Sunni officials who are following the case, can say with certainty. what the Shiite armed factions are doing there, three years after the proclamation of victory against ISIS in December 2017. “The Hezbollah brigades [Kataeb Hezbollah, une milice chiite pro-iranienne] control the area and even Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi cannot set foot there ”, says Taleb Al-Janabi. The city was renamed Jurf Al-Nasr (“the shores of victory”) by its new occupants, and declared “Restricted area”.

A “sanctuary”

Several sheikhs of the Janabi tribe were killed for protesting. The chief of the tribe, Sheikh Adnane Al-Janabi, has approached all successive governments to find a solution. In vain. He went to Lebanon to plead his case with Hezbollah’s secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah, then to Iran, with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Without success. The area was destroyed by military operations, it takes time to repair the infrastructure. When we have rebuilt, we will see ”, assures Mohammed Mohie, the spokesperson for the Hezbollah brigades, describing “Propaganda” everything that is said about Jurf Al-Sakhr.

“They are creating a sanctuary in the image of South Lebanon for Hezbollah”, out of any state control, insists a Sunni sheikh who requested anonymity. Strategically located between Baghdad and the holy city of Kerbala, on the road that connects Tehran to Damascus, Jurf Al-Sakhr is home to “Many private prisons (with over 1,000 illegal detainees), convalescent homes for combatants, and units” of Kataeb Hezbollah, confirms Michael Knights in an article for the magazine CTC Sentinel from West Point Military Academy, USA. According to this expert, the militia uses the old military-industrial complex that Saddam Hussein had established there to “The manufacture, storage and testing of ammunition”, and the locality “Was used to launch two explosive drones against Saudi oil pipeline pumping stations on May 14, 2019”.

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