Imperialist perspective on Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq in Iraq
It aims to delegitimize AAH by presenting it as an “agent” of a “foreign power”.
The Washington-based neo-con think-tank, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) in a report published today has examined the growing popularity of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) after most US forces were withdrawn from Iraq exactly a year ago. The ISW report on the increasing popularity and influence of AAH in Iraq is a subtle attempt to increase divisions within the Iraqi society.The report claims that “since the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq on December 18, 2011, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq has re-emerged in Iraq. Organizationally, the group has successfully reunited and solidified under its old leadership. Structurally, AAH has reached new potential as an Islamic nationalist opposition group. Under the leadership of Qais al-Khazali, support from Iran, and facilitation by Maliki, AAH has reframed its image as a political and religious organization. The growth of AAH’s charitable and religious services demonstrates an Iranian-orchestrated multi-tiered strategy of influence.”Throughout the report the ISW emphasizes AAH’s ties to Islamic Iran and its “split” with Muqtada al-Sadr. The prominence given by ISW to a multiplicity of views within the Islamic movement in Iraq that would be considered normal and natural anywhere else and even applauded shows that the primary objective is to promote divisions in Iraq. It also aims to delegitimize AAH by presenting it as an “agent” of a “foreign power”. Western think-tanks and media outlets have attempted to similarly undermine the reputation of Hizbullah in Lebanon by constantly referring to it as an “Iranian backed group.” This narrative provides Western regimes with an opportunity to imply that Hizbullah is a non-Lebanese entity and therefore try to delegitimize it. Throughout the report, there are references to AAH’s adherence to the concept of Velayet-e Faqih. It tries to present this Islamic concept as an “Iranian innovation”.There are also attempts to paint AAH as a group opposed to Muqtada al-Sadr’s movement, but loyal to the path of Shaheed Muhammed Baqr as-Sadr and Shaheed Mohammed Sadeq al-Sadr. This contradictory narrative is another sign that the report aims to exploit petty differences in Iraq in order to instil an image of socio-political divisions within the Islamic movement in Iraq.The strategy used to discredit the AAH is the same one used against Hizbullah. This is bound to fail as it did in stopping the rise in popularity of Hizbullah in Lebanon and beyond.Instead, what it inadvertently achieves is that it once again underlines the centrality of the Islamic government in Iran to the global Islamic movement. The report admits to Islamic Iran’s status as a regional power and as a system committed to empowering Muslims in their own countries. This, of course, was not the intention of the IWS report but it ended up projecting it.
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