Def Min Shammari has faced payback for trying to deny army and police were behind attacks upon demonstrators (Al Masalah)
On November 16, Iraq’s Defense Minister Najah Shammari gave an interview to France 24 claiming that a “third Party” was behind the shooting of protesters and that the government never bought the tear gas being used against them. People immediately thought he was blaming the Hashd for the violence against the demonstrators, and deferring blame away from the police and army. The Hashd quickly retaliated against the Defense Ministry and Minister Shammari.
The Hashd were not amused by Defense Minister Shammari’s comments to France 24 and immediately struck back. Kataib Hezbollah told the media that the tear gas being used versus demonstrators was from the Defense Ministry. Then, the Resistance Media Network, which is funded by Iran, published papers that showed the Defense Ministry had bought tear gas from Serbia, and how much gas and other equipment was used against protesters. Then it came out that Shammari claimed that he had poor mental health when he lived in Sweden to get exempted from work and collect welfare, and that he was now under investigation for that. Some pro-Iran elements of the Hashd believed that Shammari was trying to blame them for the violence used against protesters in Baghdad and were not having it. They used their political connections to expose not only the Defense Ministry, but Shammari’s past as well.
The police and army have been the main forces deployed at Baghdad’s protest site in Tahrir Square. Increasingly, there are reports that Hashd units have joined them as well. Shammari’s interview was meant to deny the army and police’s role in using force as part of a larger government effort. The Hashd were not willing to be thrown under the bus, and used the media to challenge the integrity of Shammari and his ministry. This was a warning not just to the Defense Minister but other Iraqi politicians that the pro-Iran factions will not afford undue criticism.
Al Hurra, “Iraq .. Shammari accuses the “third party” to distort his career and hires a Swedish lawyer,” 11/23/19
- “”Third Party” .. Controversy between the Iraqi militia and the Minister of Defense raises questions,” 11/21/19
Orange, Richard, “Iraq’s defence minister accused of benefit fraud in Sweden,” The Telegraph, 11/23/19
Al-Salhy, Suadad, “Tension between Iraq defense minister and Iranian-backed faction peaks,” Arab News, 11/22/19