Iran Seeks a Foothold in Iraq's Sunni Anbar Province

(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall - Following the conquest of the city of Ramadi, capital of Iraq's largest province, Anbar, Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan went for an urgent visit to Iraq. Dehghan reiterated Iran's support against Takfiri [apostate] terrorist groups (ISIS) and its willingness to provide Iraq with training, arms and intelligence. A spokesperson for the Shiite National Mobilization (NM) forces in Iraq said that Iran was planning to mount a large-scale offensive to liberate Ramadi. Iranian television reported the arrival of thousands of NM fighters from provinces adjacent to Anbar who were to take part in the anti-ISIS struggle. NM forces continue to receive massive assistance from Iran, including advisers as well as fighters from the Revolutionary Guard, weapons, and logistics. With Iran's help, the NM freed Tikrit from the hands of ISIS. The visit by the Iranian defense minister to Baghdad a short time after Ramadi's fall indicates that the Iraqi government intends, in coordination with Iran, to take rapid, decisive action to liberate the city. NM forces' participation in Ramadi's liberation will likely lead to deepened Iranian involvement in Iraq and also in areas thought of as Sunni strongholds that border Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Iran is sending more and more forces to Iraq for ground operations, some openly and some camouflaged as Iraqi forces. The writer is a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center and at Foresight Prudence.

2015-05-22 00:00:00

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