As reported before, at the beginning of February 2010, the Iranian backed militant group, the League of the Righteous broke off talks with the Iraqi government. The reason was apparently the arrest of two mid-level League members who were caught during a joint U.S.-Iraqi raid on Moqtada al-Sadr’s new militia, the Promised Day Brigades. Afterward, the League said that they were not only ending reconciliation meetings with Baghdad, but that they held a British and two American hostages. The English captive is likely security guard Alan McMenemy who was taken in a raid on the Finance Ministry in Baghdad in May 2007. The group also claims to have an American they took in 2006. Finally, the League aired a video of Issa Salomi, an Arab linguist who worked with an Army Human Terrain Team that does sociological studies of Iraq, who was kidnapped on January 23, 2010 in the Iraqi capital. A senior U.S. official told the Christian Science Monitor that Salomi’s kidnapping might have been carried out by a breakaway faction of the League who are no longer following the leadership who renounced violence and said that they want to participate in Iraqi politics.
The two League members recently detained are being held by the Iraqi government, so it is up to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki whether he wants to try to resolve this issue or not. Talks between Baghdad and the League were originally facilitated by the United States who was hoping to turn the Shiite group away from militancy. Since, then the League has split at least once with about 300 members rejoining the mainstream Sadrist Trend. The League also said that it would not run in the March 2010 elections, after flirting with joining Maliki’s State of Law List. The Prime Minister will likely consider whether the League is still relevant, along with pressure from Washington and London to get their nationals released, when thinking about what to do next.
Alsumaria, “Asaib Ahl Haq kidnaps another American,” 2/8/10
Arraf, Jane, “Kidnapping of American in Iraq sparked by faltering reconciliation talks,” Christian Science Monitor, 2/11/10
Mohammed, Abeer, “Maliki’s Chess Game,” Institute of War & Peace Reporting, 9/10/09
Roads To Iraq, “Leader of “Asaib” militia not released yet,” 1/6/10
Sullivan, Marisa Cochrane, “Iraq’s Parliamentary Election,” Institute for the Study of War, 10/21/09
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