Michael Weiss writes: In 2007, an Iranian-backed Shia militia known as Asaib Ahl al-Haq kidnapped and murdered five U.S. servicemen in an ambush in the Iraqi city of Karbala. At the time, the group’s deputy secretary-general was Akram al-Kaabi, a man who has since said publicly that he would gladly overthrow Iraq’s government if asked to do so by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Today, al-Kaabi heads a splinter faction of his original militia. Known as Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, it’s now an official arm of the Iraqi security establishment, but fighting in Syria. And the United Nations has just accused it of taking part this week in the massacre of at least 82 civilians in East Aleppo, including 11 women and 13 children—a slaughter perpetrated alongside other sectarian Shiite proxies of Iran and the Russian-Iran-backed Baathist dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad.
The Syrian army as a fighting force is largely spent. Without Russian air support and the some 6,000 to 8,000 Iranian-run paramilitaries Assad now relies on to wage war for him, Aleppo would never have been recaptured.
Nor are the Iranians masking their pride in the accomplishment.
“Aleppo was liberated thanks to a coalition between Iran, Syria, Russia, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah,” Tehran’s defense minister, Seyed Yahya Rahim-Safavi, proclaimed Wednesday. “Iran is on one side of this coalition which is approaching victory and this has shown our strength. The new American president should take heed of the powers of Iran.”
That last sentence should not be read as a mere perfunctory warning to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. It’s a statement of fact, and one that neither Trump nor his people have gotten their heads around. Trump has made it clear he wants to join the Russian side in this war, while he is adamantly opposed to the Iranian side. But in the world of real reality they are the same side. [Continue reading…]