Saturday, February 6, 2010

League Of The Righteous Break Off Talks With Baghdad Again

For the second time the Iranian backed League of the Righteous announced that it was breaking off talks with the government. At the beginning of February 2010 they claimed that the government had not released all of its followers from prison as they had promised to. They made a similar complaint in December 2009.

Not only that, but they claimed that they held a British and an American hostage. The British prisoner could be Alan McMenemy, a security guard that was kidnapped by the League in May 2007 in a raid on the Finance Ministry in Baghdad that also resulted in four other British nationals being taken. In March 2009 a deal was cut between London, Baghdad, the League, Tehran, and the Americans to let League fighters out of U.S. jails in return for the five British captives. McMenemy is the only one that has not been let go. As for the American, the League recently released a video claiming it is of a U.S. contractor they captured in Baghdad in January 2010. They are obviously hoping to use these hostages to ensure that the rest of the League members are freed.

The League of the Righteous is led by Qais Khazali, who was one of the leaders of the Sadrist movement during Saddam’s time. After the U.S. invasion, he became one of Moqtada al-Sadr’s chief lieutenants. He started breaking with Sadr during the 2004 uprisings against the U.S. By 2006 Khazali was chosen by Iran to head the Special Groups, which Tehran was organizing to gain more direct control of Shiite militiamen. After the May 2007 attack on the Finance Ministry, Khazali and other League leaders were captured in Basra. In 2009 the League said that it was renouncing violence, and wanted to join Iraqi politics, which led to the deal to release their followers. The League faces an uncertain future as few Shiites actively supported armed opposition to the government or U.S. anymore, and many Iraqis have turned against Iran, leaving the group with a shrinking base.

SOURCES

Alsumaria, “Asaib Ahl Al Haw group suspended talks with Iraq’s Government,” 2/5/10

Associated Pres, "Militant Video Shows Abducted American In Iraq," 2/6/10

Cochrane, Marisa, “The Fragmentation of the Sadrist Movement,” Institute for the Study of War, January 2009

Roads To Iraq, “Asaib Al-Haq: We still have a British and an American hostages,” 2/2/10
- “Militia kidnapped a senior U.S. officer – [hostage video],” 2/4/10

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