The leader of the Iraqi anti-terror Kata’ib Hezbollah groups has warned of US, Saudi and Israeli plots to sow sedition and stoke internal strife in Iraq.
Ahmad al-Hamidawi said in a statement on Saturday that efforts are made to dismantle the anti-terror Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), better known as Hashd al-Sha'abi, stressing that attempts to eliminate the influential Iraqi group are doomed to failure.
Hashd al-Sh’abai fighters have played a major role in the liberation of Daesh-held areas to the south, northeast and north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, ever since the Takfiri terrorists launched an offensive in the country in June 2014.
Back in November 2016, the Iraqi parliament approved a law giving full legal status to Hashd al-Sha'abi fighters. It recognized the PMU as part of the national armed forces, placed the forces under the command of the prime minister, and granted them the right to receive salaries and pensions like the regular army and police forces.
Hamidawi pointed to the results of last month’s legislative elections, which have been disputed by a number of Iraqi political groups and resulted in protests and a series of events marked by deadly attacks on peaceful protesters.
“Our message to the countries and institutions that created the status quo, and contributed to fraud and misappropriation of the Iraqi people’s will in cooperation with local authorities is that their bet on the termination of an influential, effective and popular group will undoubtedly fall short, and their efforts aimed at stoking an internal conflict will fail,” the Kata'ib Hezbollah leader said.
He added, “If such a scenario ever plays out, the United States, the Zionist regime and the House of Saud should know that its fallout will certainly afflict them before anyone else.”
On November 13, a top Iraqi leader said he was confident that last month’s parliamentary elections were rigged, stressing that the possibility of interference by the Israeli regime cannot be ruled out.
There is “certainty” that electoral fraud occurred, the Iraqi al-Ayyam website quoted head of the Fatah (Conquest) Alliance in Iraq’s parliament Hadi al-Ameri as saying.
Ameri said he believed voter fraud and irregularities took place via a cyber attack involving Israel.
“The election fraud was carried out via the cyberspace and its goal was to infiltrate Iraq ...and we do not rule out interference by the Zionist regime,” he stated.
There have been tensions in the Iraqi capital and a number of major cities since the Iraqi parliamentary elections on October 10, with several political factions and their supporters rejecting the results as fraudulent.
Last week, security forces attacked protesters in Baghdad, who were demanding a manual recount of the votes cast in the elections.
According to the Iraqi Health Ministry, 125 people were injured during the clashes. Some reports said up to three people were killed as well.
A total of 329 seats were up for grabs in the election. More than 3,240 candidates were running, including 950 women.
Influential cleric Muqtada Sadr’s Sairoon coalition won more than 70 seats, which, if confirmed, could give him considerable influence in forming a government.
The elections were originally planned to be held in 2022, but the date was brought forward in response to a mass protest movement that broke out in 2019 to call for economic reforms, better public services, and an effective fight against unemployment and corruption in state institutions.
The vote also took place under a new election law that divided Iraq into smaller constituencies – another demand of the protesters – and allowed for more independent candidates.