According to a report in Bloomberg View, the US military is sharing a base in Iraq with Iranian-backed Shiite militias, who have killed American soldiers in the past. Some have expressed concern that this puts American soldiers at risk since it allows the militias to spy on US operations at the base. Senate Armed Services Chairman, John McCain (R-AZ), has denounced the sharing of the military base, declaring, “It’s an insult to the families of the American soldiers that were wounded and killed in battles in which the Shia militias were the enemy.”US air support has aided Shiite militias, allowing them to take over areas conquered by ISIL. Because the lines between the Iraqi Security Forces and the militias are blurred, weaponry provided to Iraqi forces sometimes ends up in the hands of the militias, who have been accused of perpetrating atrocities against the Sunni population. In its annual report on terrorism, the State Department asserted that Iran’s support for terror is “undiminished” and noted that many of the Iranian-backed Iraqi militias “have exacerbated sectarian tensions in Iraq and have committed serious human rights abuses against primarily Sunni civilians.”
The militias are led by the leader of the Iraqi Hezbollah, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who is a close associate of Quds force head Qassem Suleimani and is believed to have planned the bombings of the US and French embassies in Kuwait in the 1980’s. Al-Muhandis was sanctioned in 2009 by the Treasury Department for destabilizing Iraq. Many of the Iranian-backed militias have also been fighting alongside Assad’s forces in Syria. This is an inherent contradiction in US foreign policy since the Obama administration has indicated that the Assad regime has lost its legitimacy and must step down to make way for a political transition.
The revelation that the US is now sharing a base with Iranian-backed militias is likely to confirm the fears of US Gulf allies who believe that the emerging deal with Iran signifies a strategic realignment of US policy in favor of Iran. Moreover, the development gives the appearance that the US is facilitating Iranian expansionism. A senior administration official admitted to Bloomberg that “Iran is ushering in a new Hezbollah era in Iraq, and we will have aided and abetted it.”
The UN Human Rights Council, many of whose state members are world champions in violating the moral principles the Council is obligated to protect, issued its Commission of Inquiry (COI) report on the 2014 Gaza War today. The eighth such attempt since 2002 to single out Israel as guilty of war crimes, this was the first replay since the discredited Goldstone document in 2009. This time, some lessons were learned, but any serious analysis of the COI would find it seriously flawed. At best, it is Goldstone lite, with little lasing impact; but at worst, it will accelerate the dirty political war begun at Durban 2001, seeking the “total international isolation of Israel.”The COI is clearly written in two voices: the harsh ideological accusations of William Schabas, interspersed with the more reasonable caution of Mary McGowan Davis. This was expected—Schabas, the anti-Israel warrior originally selected by the UNHRC’s Islamic bloc majority, neglected to mention his paid job with the PLO, and was replaced after the research was completed by Judge Davis. But instead of throwing out the draft, she added and revised the original sporadically, leaving a fundamentally flawed document, drafted by the same UN-based staffers.
As a result, the report is premised on the immoral and absurd equivalence and parallelism between a terrorist group (Hamas) and a democratic state under attack (Israel). The recommendations at the end, which call for investigations, enforcement of international legal principles, cooperation with the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, and other measures, are ostensibly addressed to Israel and to Hamas. This can be compared to placing the police and mafia on an equal moral plain.
Another major flaw that remained was the heavy reliance on highly political non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with façades of “expertise” without the substance. This NGO network is deeply entrenched in the UN structure, and visible on almost every page. Amnesty International’s versions of events are quoted 53 times; Human Rights Watch, 22; B’tselem, 69; Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), 50, and so on. In other words, as in the case of Goldstone, and, going back to the 2002 Jenin “investigations”, these political organizations, which clearly lack any systematic or professional fact-finding methodology, created the scaffolding around which the COI was constructed.