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article imageOp-Ed: US general in Iraq claims Shia militias not ISIS are main threat

By Ken Hanly     Jan 23, 2020 in World
The US Deputy Commander in Iraq and Syria, Major General Alex Grynkewich downplayed the threat posed by ISIS terrorists within Iraq. Instead, he argued that Shiite groups including those not controlled by Iran were the real threat..
Grynkewich's remarks
An article
reports on Grynkewich's remarks at a recent event: ""In the time that I have been in Iraq, we've taken a couple of casualties from ISIS fighting on the ground, but most of the attacks have come from those Shia militia groups, who are launching rockets at our bases and frankly just trying to kill someone to make a point," Grynkewich said Wednesday at an event hosted by the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies." Some of the militias are part of the Iraqi government security forces and he accused them of extorting money from locals in Nineveh province.
Grynkewich noted that there are more than 100 Shiite militia groups in Iraq and he maintains that many of them take orders from Iran. However many are part of the Popular Mobilization Forces that are funded and approved by the Iraqi government and in effect part of their security forces. Grynkewich claims that since the US assassinated top Iranian commander Soleimani former head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, elite Quds Force there has been no increased attacks on US troops by Shiite militia. He thinks that with Soleimani gone Iran may not be able to coordinate new attacks on the US. However, that remains to be seen. Iran will no doubt take advantage of the fact that many Iraqis want foreign troops out of Iraq including those of the US.
The decline of ISIS
Grynkewich's remarks suggest that the US is now in Iraq to counter Iranian influence on the Iraqi government. Grynkewich said that ISIS was in survival mode unable to hold significant territory for any length of time. Grynkewich claimed: ""They might have a safe haven on a mountain or in dry stream bed, a wadi system, maybe in some caves; they come out of those at night; go down, shake down some folks; maybe kidnap for extortion; maybe threaten to burn over farmers' fields if they don' turn over crops," Grynkewich said. "And then they retreat back to those supposed safe havens.""
Given that the US is supposed to be in Iraq to counter ISIS now that the ISIS threat is much diminished Iraqis should clearly be capable of dealing with the threat themselves. It seems clear that the US wants troops to remain in Iraq to counter Iranian influence. Ironically, the Iranian influence is due in large part to the US invasion that overthrew Saddam Hussein whose rule involved the dominance of the Sunni majority over the Shia majority population. Now the US does not like the Shia and Iranian influence on its own creation.
The Iraqi parliament has demanded that all foreign troops leave Iraq but the US refuses even to talk about doing so. Given the situation Grynkewich cites the ISIS threat as a reason for the US to stay in Iraq even though he just claimed the threat was not nearly as important as Iranian influence over Iraqi Shia militias. Grynkewich said: ""Over the longer term, the less pressure that is put on ISIS – given that those underlying conditions still exist – we certainly want to get back to providing that overall pressure to keep them down and ensure their enduring defeat."
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about US in Iraq, Maj Gen Alex Grynkewich, Iraq Iran relations
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