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Report: Iranian-backed Iraqi militias continue to assassinate activists

Under the title of Iranian militias causing chaos in Karbala and continuing their assassination of Iraqi activists in broad daylight, the New York Times highlighted the story of the assassination of an Iraqi protest activist who was assassinated in the holy streets of Karbala and in front of his house.

In her report, she said one night in May, Samira Abbas Kazem woke up late, waiting for her son, and pulled her head out of the gate of their small house and looked for him in the narrow street. Five minutes later, while she was in the kitchen, he was shot dead in the middle of the street.

Report: Iranian-backed Iraqi militias continue to assassinate activists Report: Iranian-backed Iraqi militias continue to assassinate activists

Samira Abbas Kazem

Her son, Ihab Al-Wazani, was one of dozens of anti-government protest leaders believed to be They have been killed by militia fighters and security forces since demonstrations escalated two years ago.

But his killing stands out as an attack that shook the Shiite city of Karbala, the holiest Shiite site, and once considered one of the safest in Iraq.

Karbala, the southern Iraqi city, whose golden-domed shrines attract Shiite pilgrims from all over the world, has become a flashpoint in the internal conflict in Iraq due to the presence of dozens of powerful militias backed by Iran.

The militias attack Iranian enemies including rival militias, US military outposts, and anti-government protesters.

The protesters, who demanded jobs and an end to corruption, called for an end to Iranian influence, which they blame for many of Iraq’s problems. Iran has influence in Karbala, apparently fearing that if it loses influence there, other cities in the Shiite heartland of Iraq will follow suit.

The report considered that the militias won there in the absence of the police and largely fruitless government efforts to bring the killers of activists to the city. Justice, and that almost all major militias have a presence in Karbala.

The protest movement there has largely gone underground, subjected to threats, arrests, and the killing of its leaders like Cheb Wazni.

Ihab always used to say to people: You are Iraqi, why are you loyal to Iran? According to his mother, who recounts his story, seated on a wooden chair, she welcomed a torrent of senior Iraqi and other officials who continue to offer condolences.

His mother, 71, accused Qassem Musleh, a leader of an Iran-backed militia.

In May, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi ordered federal security forces to arrest Musleh. He is a resident of Karbala, and the leader of an Iranian-backed militia in Anbar Province in western Iraq.

The Musleh and Wazni families have lived in the same Karbala neighborhood for years, and his arrest in May led to an armed confrontation with paramilitary groups.

The Prime Minister, who took office in the 2019 promised to subdue the militias to hand Mosleh over to the paramilitary leadership, which released him after a judge said there was not enough evidence to charge him.

Mosleh has lived in Iran for nearly a decade. After the killing of the young Wazani, demonstrators burned barriers around the Iranian consulate in Karbala in protest.

Most Karbala residents say that the police are the weakest element in the city, and that the Iranian-backed militias have the upper hand there.

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