Iraqi Shiite fighters from the Nujaba armed group march during a military parade marking Al-Quds (Jerusalem) International Day in Baghdad, May 31, 2019. (AFP)

February 27, 2020

The United States on Wednesday blacklisted a senior member of Iranian-backed Kata’ib Hezbollah militia, punishing it for its attacks targeting US forces, most recently for killing an American contractor in an Iraqi military base near the northern city of Kirkuk.

The US State Department said it has designated Ahmad al-Hamidawi as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT), Secretary General of Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH), an Iran-backed terrorist group active in Iraq and Syria, which Washington designated as terrorist organization in 2009.

“The Kata’ib Hezbollah group continues to present a threat to US forces in Iraq,” Nathan Sales, the State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator, said at a news briefing. “We’re adding to the pressure that has existed on this group for a decade.”

Qassem Soleimani’s legacy

Washington has blamed Iran-backed paramilitary groups for increasingly regular rocketing and shelling of bases hosting US forces in Iraq and of the area around the US Embassy in Baghdad.

An attack last month hit the US Embassy compound itself, and a rocket attack on a military base in the north in December killed a US civilian contractor. This triggered a string of events resulting in with the United States killing the top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes in a drone strike in Baghdad last month.

Shortly after Soleimani’s death, senior officials from Lebanese Hezbollah urgently met with Iraqi militia leaders with the aim of uniting them in the void left by Soleimani, reported Reuters.

Soleimani’s replacement, Esmail Ghaani, vowed revenge for his predecessor’s death and promised to keep up Iran’s influence via proxies.

Iran is linked to proxy organizations in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq.

Reuters

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.