It appears that the Iraqi Prime Minister is blaming Israel at this juncture because he is being targeted for criticism for removing a key member of the Counter Terrorism Service (CTS).

Barham Salih, Iraq's newly elected president, walks with Iraq's new Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi
Barham Salih, Iraq’s newly elected president, walks with Iraq’s new Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi at the parliament headquarters, in Baghdad, Iraq October 2, 2018. . (photo credit: REUTERS/KHALID AL MOUSILY)


Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said that “investigations into the targeting of some Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) positions indicate that Israel carried it out,” in his first direct comments blaming Jerusalem. This is the first time he spoke so clearly about a series of mysterious attacks since July that have targeted munitions facilities of the PMF. The PMU are a group of mostly Shi’ite militias, some of which are closely tied to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

In the past voices in Iraq have sought to blame Israel but have been reticent to do so clearly. Elements within the PMU have instead held the US responsible, claiming that the US allowed Israel to carry out the attacks. These reports appeared in foreign Arabic media sometimes, but there was not a robust response because the PMU didn’t know what the best response was. So why would Abdul-Mahdi, who faces many challenges at home, decide to blame Israel now?

It appears that the Iraqi Prime Minister is blaming Israel at this juncture because he is being targeted for criticism for removing a key member of the Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) named Lt. General Abdul Wahab Al-Saadi. Al-Saadi was a popular deputy commander of the CTS, Iraq’s most elite unit. He played a key role defeating ISIS. However he was suddenly sidelined last week and the Prime Minister is being criticized across the political spectrum. However Abdul-Mahdi’s office has said the decision is irreversible and has said Al-Saadi must adhere to it. In addition rumors have been spread against the commander, suggesting he visited foreign embassies. The Prime Minister sought to blame the CTS for the decision on Monday, suggesting that the chief of staff wanted Al-Saadi out of the way.

The Iraqi Prime Minister has said that “no one wants war in the region except for Israel.” However a large context looms. He was recently in Saudi Arabia and is now supposed to travel to Iran. Iran’s IRGC head Hossein Salami spoke on Monday, threatening to destroy Israel. In addition Iran’s Tasnim is taking credit for getting the US to re-position air force assets away from Qatar, claiming its drones scare the Americans. In addition Iraq and Syria re-opened a border crossing at Albukamal on Monday close to an alleged Iranian base that has been targeted. The PMU will be responsible for security on the Iraqi side, according to locals.

It is difficult not to see a link between Albukamal, Salami, the US air force in Qatar, and the comments about Israel. This is all about how Iran perceives the region and how its allies in Baghdad also see the region. For the Prime Minister it was a good time to point a finger at Israel because Iran is positioning itself into a place of strength. “Our enemies are weakened,” said Salami at his speech. The enemy is retreating, Iran says, arguing that the “destruction of the Zionists” is not longer just a dream.

Iran’s President went to Armenia on September 30 and said Iran wants closer ties with its neighbors. Syria says it rejects foreign meddling in its affairs. Salami threatens Israel. Iranian media emphasizes that Saudi Arabia does not want conflict, despite the attack on its facilities on September 14. Iran is preparing a full-court press against Israel. The comments by Baghdad blaming Israel for airstrikes comes in that context.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post