The U.S.-Iran Showdown Begins in Iraq

(Wall Street Journal) Jonathan Spyer - The U.S. killed at least 25 Kataeb Hezbollah fighters on Sunday in its first counterstrike in a decade against an Iran-aligned Iraqi Shia militia. Kataeb, created by Iran's Revolutionary Guards in 2007 to fight the U.S. presence in Iraq, is modeled after Lebanon's Hizbullah. Its leader, Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi, 65, is wanted by the U.S. for the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait. He helped smuggle IEDs during the Shia insurgency in Iraq a decade ago and has the blood of many Western soldiers on his hands. I embedded with the Kataeb during Iraq's war with Islamic State in June 2015 and interviewed Ibrahimi. The Kataeb fighters I met were younger, keener and better equipped than either the Iraqi Army soldiers or the representatives of other militias I met. They were also the most vividly anti-American. Kataeb Hezbollah isn't an underground or fringe group. It is deeply embedded in both the political and security structures of the official Iraqi state. The writer is director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis.

2019-12-31 00:00:00

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