Asaib Ahl al-Haq

Iran provides money, weaponry, training, and operational oversight to Asaib Ahl al-Haq, an Iraqi Shi’a militia. As a proxy of the Iranian regime, Asaib Ahl al-Haq remains ideologically aligned with Iran’s Islamist political goals, and loyal to its Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. On January 3, 2020, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S. government would designate AAH as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

  • Type of Organization: Militia, political party, religious, social services provider, terrorist, transnational, violent
  • Ideologies and Affiliations: Iranian-sponsored, Islamist, jihadist, Khomeinist, Shi'a
  • Place of Origin: Iraq
  • Year of Origin: 2006
  • Founder(s): Qais al-Khazali
  • Places of Operation: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon

AAH: An Iranian-Backed Militia


Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH)—in English, the “League of the Righteous”—is an Iranian-backed Shi’a militia and political party operating primarily in Iraq, with ancillary operations in Syria and LebanonFormed in 2006 by Qais al-Khazali, AAH has approximately 10,000 members and is one of Iraq’s most powerful Shi’a militias. Until the U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq in December 2011, AAH had launched over 6,000 attacks on American and Iraqi forces, including sophisticated operations and targeted kidnappings of Westerners. The group seeks to promote Iran’s political and religious influence in Iraq, maintain Shi’a control over Iraq, and oust any remaining Western vestiges from the country.

AAH’s history in Iraq dates back formally to 2006, when the group broke away from the Mahdi Army (JAM)—the militia run by the violent Shi’a cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr. In August 2007, the U.S. designated AAH as a “Special Group,” a label given to Iranian-backed Shi’a militias operating in Iraq. AAH is still one of three prominent Iraqi Shi’a militias funded and trained by Iran’s external military wing, the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). AAH overtly displays its loyalty to Iran’s leaders, including the current Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and his predecessor, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The group reportedly operates under Iran’s Quds Force.

After the U.S. withdrew from Iraq in December 2011, AAH announced its intention to lay down its weapons and enter Iraqi politics. The group opened a number of political offices and religious schools and offered social services to widows and orphans. According to a Reuters report, AAH modeled its operations after Hezbollah, another Iranian proxy. Yet, AAH didn’t fulfill its vow to halt armed resistance, instead continuing to carry out sectarian violenceexecute homophobic attacksslaughter women alleged to be prostitutes, and threaten the “interests” of Western countries participating in strikes in Syria.

The group’s membership in the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a paramilitary that was formed out of Iraqi volunteers to fight ISIS and repel its conquest of large swathes of Iraq in 2014, contributed to its popularity in the Iraqi Shi’a community, which often viewed AAH as a defender against the Sunni terrorist organization.

Consequently, its performance in elections improved. Around one year after victory over ISIS was declared, in the May 2018 elections, AAH won 15 seats in the Iraqi parliament—a significant increase from the one seat it had won in the 2014 elections. Under the subsequently-formed government, AAH member Abdul-Amir Hamdani was given the position of minister of culture. On July 13, 2018, Iraqi protesters in the country’s south attacked the political offices of AAH and other Iran-backed groups as they called for Iran to withdraw from Iraq.

In January 2020, the U.S. government designated AAH as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The sanctions announcement noted that AAH, led by Qais al-Khazali and Laith al-Khazali, “has claimed responsibility for more than 6,000 attacks against U.S. and Coalition forces since its creation in 2006.”

The political wing of AAH, known as al-Sadiqun, and its political allies in the Fatah coalition, have increased their political power following the October 2021 parliamentary elections, by employing intimidation and violence as part of their campaign to oust the rival Shia bloc from parliament, led by Muqtada al-Sadr. This campaign has yielded significant gains in parliament for AAH and the other Iranian-backed militias, allowing AAH to wield outsize influence relative to the number of seats it initially won, which indicated diminishing popularity. Sadr’s nationalist movement, which has been critical of Tehran’s meddling in Iraq, was much more successful in the elections.

Although Sadr claimed to have resigned from parliament to avert the stalemate in the government formation process, he may have been acting to avoid intra-Shia escalation. AAH and the Fatah coalition at first took to the streets in protest of the results of the October 2021 parliamentary elections in which they lost handily to the bloc led by Muqtada al-Sadr.

Following Sadr’s decision, the parliamentary coalition of the militias, known as the ‘Coordination Framework,’ set in motion the process that would see their ally become prime minister. As part of that coalition, AAH has vocalized its maximalist demands for a complete U.S. troop withdrawal and has reiterated it will not comport with the outcome of U.S. and Iraqi bilateral negotiations.

The terrorist group’s ties with the ‘Islamic Resistance in Iraq,’ which has claimed at least 50 of the over 160 attacks against the U.S. in Iraq and Syria between October 17, 2023 and February 2024, are not clear. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, however, AAH is not a member of this umbrella organization, led by Kataib Hezbollah.

AAH Ideology: Imported from Iran

AAH is a religiously motivated group with allegiance to Iran. The group is anti-American, sectarian, anti-Kurdish, homophobic, and violent. A former Iraqi MP, Taha al-Lahibi, said that AAH has “actively served as an Iranian arm that oppresses all Iraqis opposed to the Iranian influence by commanding assassination squads to kill them, particularly in the city of Basra.”

Pro-Iranian: AAH seeks to establish an Islamist, Shi’a-controlled Iraq and promote Iranian objectives. While AAH has origins within the Iraqi Sadrist movement, the group is openly loyal to Iranian leaders, most notably the Ayatollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Khamenei. Similarly, AAH shows deference to the Guardianship of the Jurists (Velayat-e Faqih), a governing structure that serves as one of the cornerstones of Iran’s Islamic Revolution system.

Analysts characterize AAH as a Khomeinist organization that aims “to create a suitable environment for the return of Imam Mahdi through the imposition of strict Shi’a Islamic governance.” This assessment is corroborated by Guardian Middle East correspondent Martin Chulov, who writes that AAH is a “proxy arm of the Revolutionary Guards’ al-Quds Brigades, whose main brief is to export Iran’s 30-year-old Islamic Revolution.” AAH is also ideologically aligned with Iranian proxy Hezbollah, a Shi’a Lebanese terrorist group.

Declassified interrogation reports of Qais al-Khazali, AAH’s founder, underscore the breadth and depth of the relationship between Shi’a militias and Iran. Al-Khazali described multiple trips to Tehran with Muqtada al-Sadr, beginning in 1989 with the funeral of Ayatollah Khomeini, where he met with representatives of the Iranian government. These meetings continued over the next decade, where al-Khazali met with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, former Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani, former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and other senior leaders.

During questioning in 2007, Al-Khazali emphasized that while Iran did not order the militias to attack specific targets in Iraq, Iranian officials “suggested” the militias concentrate their efforts on British troops in Basra and American troops “to force a withdrawal.” Al-Khazali also spoke at length of generous Iranian provisions of explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) and their role in the slaughter of American troops. According to one report, “[d]etainee said that anyone can receive EFP training and Iran does not care who gets it… this is because of the availability and low cost of EFPs.”

AAH is also present in Syria. The Iraqi militia coordinates its activities at the Iraq-Syria border with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). There, they secure critical transshipment hubs. In particular, the IRGC has a major presence along the western side of the Euphrates River in Syria, extending north from the Abu Kamal border crossing. An unidentified drone struck Iran-backed militias stationed in Abu Kamal in September 2021. It was not entirely clear who carried out the attack, but al-Khazali threatened the Iraqi government in response.

In addition to fighting in Syria at Iran’s behest, recent reporting shows that Iran-backed militiamen, including from AAH, are also being offered stipends to fight in Ukraine in support of Russia. In March 2022, an individual with AAH expressed interest in the offer of $400 a week to fight with the Russian military against “imperialism.”

An Iraqi militia group, Ashab Ahl Kahf, thought to be linked to AAH, claimed a missile attack against Israel at the height of the May 2021 Gaza conflict. Qais Khazali visited the Lebanese-Israel border in December 2017, vowing “to stand together with the Lebanese people and the Palestinian cause” against “Israeli occupation.” He was subsequently banned from visiting the country again by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Furthermore, a March 2022 report suggests that the IRGC may have dispatched a large number of fighters from its Iraqi militias to Yemen in order to reinforce the Iran-backed Houthis, who had suffered major losses. The report explicitly states that fighters from AAH would be included.

As a member of al-Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), AAH has been integrated within the Iraqi government. Although it receives government funding and is formally under the command of Iraq’s prime minister, the PMF seldom obeys the commands of ranking Iraqi officials, nor do the factions within it always act in unison. The following statement made by a member of the Political Bureau of AAH demonstrates the group’s insubordination: “al-Hashd al-Shaabi is a security system that follows the orders issued by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, while the resistance factions [i.e., AAH] are the ones that reject the American presence on Iraqi soil.”

Under the command of the late Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, the Shi’a elements in the PMF loyal to Iran exhibited more cohesion. Since his death, though, Iran’s command and control over the militias that it formed has weakened. The current commander of the IRGC-Quds Force, Esmail Qaani, was at first thought not to exert the same degree of influence over the Iraqi militias, given the fact that he did not have the longstanding ties to the militia leaders that Soleimani did.

The General-Secretary of AAH suggested that it would pursue its own interests, regardless of Tehran’s dictates. On November 19, 2020, after AAH carried out a rocket attack on the day of Qaani’s visit to Baghdad, he said, “I sent a clear and frank message to Mr. Esmail Qaani … the Americans occupy our country not yours, those martyred in Qaim were our sons … then the matter is related to us, regardless of other calculations, so please from now on if someone came to you, embarrassed you, please no one talks to us and we won’t listen… our motives are national 100%…” These statements by AAH at the time indicated the group’s increasing defiance and Qaani’s decentralized management over the group’s activities. Still, Qaani has proven skillful at uniting and mobilizing the Axis of Resistance militias in Iraq to attack the U.S. and Israel, particularly in the lead up to and following Hamas’ terrorist attack against Israel on October 7, 2023.

AAH has always been an extremely violent and heavily indoctrinated entity operating at Tehran’s behest. Therefore, it is no surprise that AAH was the first group to break a ceasefire that a number of Iran-backed militias had agreed to in mid-October 2020 on the condition that Iraq’s government create a timetable for the withdrawal of all remaining U.S. troops. Even Kataib Hezbollah, another radical Iran-backed militia in Iraq, complied with the ceasefire and criticized AAH for breaking it, which shows how the groups are aligned in their vision of evicting the U.S., but not necessarily in their tactics.

Rockets targeted the U.S. embassy in Iraq in November 2020. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s program to track militia activities in Iraq and Syria determined that AAH undertook two rocket attacks on the U.S. embassy complex in Baghdad at the end of 2020. In February 2021, the program, known as Militia Spotlight, assessed that AAH was responsible for rocket attacks on the U.S. military base in Erbil, which is part of Iraq’s Kurdistan region. The attack was claimed by a group that goes by the name of “Awliyaa al-Dam,” but U.S. and Iraqi officials said that this group is merely a front. Another front group operating under AAH, Ashab al-Kahf carried out an IED attack against a U.S. convoy in Al-Diwaniyah, Iraq in March 2021 and attacked Israel with a rocket one month later.

A terrorist group attempted to assassinate Iraq’s prime minister in a drone strike in November 2021. AAH claimed that the attack was “fabricated,” but Reuters reported that month that two Iraqi security officials, speaking anonymously, said that the attack was carried out by both Kataib Hezbollah and AAH. One of the officials noted that the drone was designed like other Iranian-made drones used to attack U.S. forces in Iraq earlier in the year, as a “quadcopter” carrying one projectile with high explosives.

The statements of these officials indicate that Iran probably supplied the weapons, and some reports suggest Tehran may have had foreknowledge of the attack. The Iranians condemned the assassination attempt, and some ask whether the attack is an indication that Iran is “losing some of its grip on Shi’a militias in Iraq.” Other experts, such as Nathan Sales of the Counter Extremism Project, claim that the failed drone strike on Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Khadimi “appears to have Tehran’s fingerprints all over it.” The prime minister was not harmed in the attack, but many Iraqis fear that the attack was politically motivated and could portend a broader intra-Shia civil conflict.


AAH is virulently anti-American, a stance that did not abate after the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in December 2011. AAH is so staunchly opposed to the U.S. that it boycotted the PMF’s attack against ISIS in Tikrit in March 2015, because the U.S. provided airpower support. By the end of the month, AAH only agreed to rejoin the battle against ISIS after then Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi promised that the United States would stop its airstrikes. AAH Spokesman Naim al-Aboudi said that the Prime Minister “realized this battle can’t be finished” without AAH and other militias, demonstrating AAH’s continued prioritizing of its anti-American position above its other goals.

In 2018, Qais al-Khazali framed AAH’s anti-Americanism as a political rather than ideological struggle. As al-Khazali told reporters, “[i]deologically, we do not consider the U.S. an infidel or its people enemies. The only thing that happened is a phase of American occupation, and it is normal for people to resist occupation.” Yet this convenient rebranding of AAH came on the heels of the U.S. Congress’ attempts to sanction AAH as a terrorist organization.

On May 1, 2019, AAH militants fired rockets at U.S. contractors working in Taji. Local security forces arrested two AAH militants shortly after. The U.S. struck the Iraq-Syria border in June 2021, and Khazali vowed to retaliate against American forces in Iraq. The leader went on Iraqi television and claimed that the U.S. was responsible for escalating hostilities. In the televised speech broadcast on the group’s satellite television channel, al-Ahed, Khazali said: “We are not seeking blood… however the American treacherous enemy is the one who started wasting lives and moved the battle to this level.”

Also, in June 2021, Khazali announced on Iraqi television an escalation in drone operations against U.S. assets: “The truce is over…now its war…except for the American embassy…and Balad base…any U.S. military presence is targetable by the fasiqil [armed groups] of the Iraqi muqawama, and the decision is to escalate the operations in terms of quantity and quality.”

SectarianAs a Shiite, Iranian-backed group, AAH follows and implements a sectarian ideology that has enflamed tensions between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq and across the region. According to Martin Chulov, AAH leader Qais al-Khazali’s speeches have galvanized “thousands” of Iraqi Shiites to fight for Assad’s regime in Syria, worrying many Iraqi communities about “a sectarian conflict that increasingly respects no border.” In August 2012, AAH militants reportedly bombed the Sunni Sabatayn Mosque in Iraq, an attack that stirred a new wave of sectarian tensions in the country. Since then, Human Rights Watch has documented numerous AAH attacks on Sunnis in Iraq in which AAH militants targeted Sunni mosques or towns.

More recently, AAH and the Badr Organization went on a sectarian “killing spree” in a majority-Sunni town in Diyala province in revenge for an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) attack on October 26, 2021. This incident underscores how these radical groups take vengeance on innocent civilians.

In line with this sectarian strife, AAH members have reportedly appropriated the derogatory term rafidah (a pejorative meaning “rejecters” that some Sunnis use for Shiites) as a badge of honor and “self-identity.” A January 2014 Foreign Policy piece reported that on an AAH linked-webpage, AAH proudly identified its fighters as rafidah “as a sign of mocking defiance against their foes.”

Anti-Kurdish: AAH leaders frequently demonize and alienate Iraqi Kurds. In 2015, AAH’s leader Qais al-Khazali said on live television, “The problem is that the Kurds are operating right now like leeches, which feed on the host’s body—sucking more and more of its blood—in an effort to grow in size.”

Homophobic: Members of AAH have committed numerous acts of violence targeting gays in Iraq. In May 2014, AAH members published a list of 24 “wanted” individuals, the vast majority of whom were accused of carrying out “homosexual acts.” Two months later, AAH members beheaded two teenagers believed to be gay, and threw their heads into the garbage. According to police anecdotes, these types of attacks and intimidation are indicative of the group’s violent disposition toward sexual minorities.

Violent: AAH operates as a militia, with ancillary operations as a political party. The group does not eschew violence in pursuit of its objectives, which include the establishment of an Islamist Iranian-inspired Shi’a state.

AAH’s Organizational Structure: A Group that Answers to Iran

AAH is led by its founder, Qais al-Khazali, who broke off from the Mahdi Army (a.k.a. Jaysh al-Mahdi or JAM), a Sadrist militia, in 2006. According to a 2012 report by analyst Sam Wyer, al-Khazali sits on AAH’s five-person board of trustees along with two deputies. As an Iranian proxy, AAH coordinates with senior Iranian commanders, notably the late IRGC-Quds Force leader Qassem Soleimani.

AAH first began as a military unit within JAM. With the 2003 Iraq War, AAH reorganized into battalions assigned to four sectors: Baghdad, Maysan, Najaf, and Samarra. When al-Khazali made AAH an independent group in 2006, he retained this structure. AAH’s military arrangement is thought to be based on fellow Shi’a militant group Hezbollah, with which the group has close ties.

Since the United States withdrew its forces from Iraq in December 2011, AAH has expanded significantly into politics, “opening a string of political offices” throughout Iraq, according to the Washington Post. AAH runs two political offices in Baghdad, and others in the Iraqi cities of Basra, Najaf, Hillah, al-Kalis, and Tal Afar. AAH has also sent political representatives to the southern Iraqi provinces of Dhi Qar, al-Muthanna, and Maysan to meet with tribal and minority leaders. The group’s political bloc is called al-Sadiqun (the Honest Ones), and in the May 2018 parliamentary elections, AAH ran in alliance with Hadi al-Amiri’s Fatah Coalition. Outside Iraq, AAH has maintained political representation in Beirut, Lebanon, since early 2011. As of early 2011, Sheikh Ammar al-Delphi headed AAH‘s political offices in Beirut. In the April 30, 2014, parliamentary elections, AAH ran in alliance with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki’s Dawlat al-Qanoon (State of Law).

AAH: Financed by Iran

AAH has received training, arms, and financial support from Iran, particularly through Iran’s external military branch, the IRGC-Quds Force, as well as from Iran’s Lebanese proxy Hezbollah. Col. Rick Welch, a retired U.S. Army intelligence officer, said that during the 2007 U.S. surge in Iraq, Iran was giving AAH “$20 million a month or some outrageous figure like that” in order to train AAH fighters. After U.S. forces withdrew from Iraq in December 2011, the financial pipeline from Iran continued.

During 2012, Iran was giving AAH $5 million in cash and weapons per month, according to an Iraqi close to the group. The Iranian financing was indispensable to the group’s efforts to recruit new fighters and build up its capabilities after the U.S. withdrawal. In a backlash against the growth of these and other Iran-backed Shia militias, ISIS expanded recruitment and eventually took control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria, leading the U.S. to redeploy troops in 2014. During March 2014, the group continued to receive an estimated $1.5 million to $2 million a month from Iran.

Recruitment Tactics and Messaging: AAH as the Protector of Shiites in Iraq

AAH recruitment focuses on two strategies: traditional propaganda efforts to raise the group’s profile, and a comprehensive religious system aimed to indoctrinate and recruit members. AAH has also emulated groups like ISIS by using social media to expand recruitment throughout the Middle East, South Asia, and the West.

One of the main ways AAH draws recruits is by advertising itself as a protector of the Shiite community within Iraq and abroad. AAH uses posters and issues calls for recruits on Iraqi television stations, often emphasizing its connection with Iran and Hezbollah. One AAH member said that he was drawn to AAH because it was “protecting the Shi’a community inside Iraq and abroad as well.” In the past, the most important galvanizing point for Iraqis to join AAH and go to Syria to fight alongside Assad forces was the defense of the Sayeda Zenab shrine, a Shi’a holy site in a Damascus suburb.

AAH has seized homes and offices in Baghdad in order to establish recruiting centers where would-be volunteers could go to join other Shiites fighting in Syria. In southern Iraq, posters urge men to join the fight in Syria with other Iraqi Shiites and provide a hotline number to call. In August 2012, AAH distributed over 20,000 posters with AAH’s logo; a photograph of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; and a photograph of the late Iraqi Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr. The posters were plastered on buildings and billboards and also used in street demonstrations.

AAH’s second, but perhaps most comprehensive, recruitment strategy is a religious activism and education system. The group uses two mosques in particular, the Sabatayn mosque in Baghdad and the Abdullah al-Radiya mosque in al-Khalis, as hubs for recruitment. AAH leaders give sermons at these mosques, advocating social and religious reform in Iraq in an attempt to entice attendees into joining, financing, or otherwise contributing to AAH’s mission.

AAH has expanded its reach through a network of religious schools known as the “Seal of the Apostles.” These schools, spread throughout Iraq, serve as propaganda and recruitment facilities for the group. As with its military and political structures, AAH also appears to be emulating Hezbollah by launching social services programs for widows and orphans. AAH’s recruitment efforts are funded in large part by Iran.

AAH also disseminates propaganda that features its violence. The group uses Telegram—a free instant messaging service that can be used across different platforms—to publicize their attacks and recruit new members. Videos of attacks and other uploaded propaganda are difficult to trace on this application because it provides encrypted file sharing. AAH balances its interest in publicly taking credit for attacks for propaganda purposes and covering up its involvement.

The Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point produced a report, relying heavily on an investigation conducted by the Militia Spotlight into Telegram and other open-source information, that explained how these propaganda efforts work: militia leaders “want to individually brand attacks and claim credit in a way that is discernable to their inner circles and followers” but not easily discernable by Iraqi security personnel or U.S. forces. To that end, they set up front groups. The report states that AAH uses Ashab al-Kahf, Liwa Khaibar, and Quwwat Dhu al-Faqar to claim its attacks.

Training: Emulating Iran’s Hezbollah Proxy

Iran’s IRGC–Quds Force trains AAH in addition to funding and arming the group. AAH’s training program resembles that of Iran’s Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah. In the past, AAH militants have received training from Lebanese Hezbollah, including one of its senior operatives Ali Mussa Daqduq. The Quds Force placed Ali Mussa Daqduq in charge of overseeing training for Iraqi Shi’a militants in the region, including AAH fighters.

In June 2014, following calls for volunteer fighters from the Iraqi government and Iraq’s highest Shi’a religious authority, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, there was a surge in Shi’a volunteers to join the fight against ISIS. Many found their way through AAH recruiting centers in Iraq. According to an Iraqi source from 2014, AAH recruits joined Assad forces in Syria after training in Iran for approximately two weeks.

In December 2017, al-Khazali joined Hezbollah on a tour of Lebanon’s border with Israel. During the visit, he proclaimed, “[w]e declare our full readiness to stand united with the Lebanese people and the Palestinian cause in the face of the Israeli occupation.” Al-Khazali’s trip signaled the transnational nature of Iran’s nurturing of Shi’a militias. Furthermore, it underscored how Iran’s Lebanon-based proxy, the most loyal, well-organized, and capable of its proxies in the Axis of Resistance, is also positioned as a leader of the Palestinian terrorist movements in Gaza and the West Bank.

AAH in Iraqi Politics

As the leader of one of the most powerful militias in the PMF, Khazali is a prominent figure in the political bloc opposed to the Sadrist movement. The political wing of AAH, al-Sadiqun, joined the Fatah coalition in rejecting the October 2021 parliamentary election results and boycotting the parliamentary process of voting on a president. Only 178 lawmakers showed up for the vote on March 30, far short of the two-thirds required. Even though they have since admitted that the elections were legitimate, the Coordination Framework boycotted the selection process, as they did in previous votes, because they feared a majority government led by Sadr, who could ally with Sunnis and Kurds. More specifically, they didn’t want to be shut out of the government-formation process.

Representing the voice of powerful Shi’a militias in the PMF, as opposed to the broader Shi’a community, Khazali argued that Sadr’s plans would undermine the right of the Shi’a community to have a say in the government. Evidently, a meeting on December 2, 2021, between Sadr, Khazali, Maliki, and the leader of the Fatah coalition, Badr Organization head Hadi al-Amiri, failed to break to deadlock.

Khazali has made his opposition to the Sadrist movement clear. First, he rejected the results of the parliamentary elections. On November 9, 2021, Khazali said that the parliamentary elections, which empowered his political opponents and served as the basis for forming a government, must be held again; and that he would “completely boycott the political process” to select a president. He also accused then-prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, of engaging in anti-democratic practices, including political violence. He asserted that the Kadhimi government arrested people “illegally” and committed “hideous acts of torture against detainees.”

Later, Khazali accepted the Supreme Court’s ruling that the parliamentary elections were legitimate. Some analysts say that Khazali’s change in position was motivated by Iran. But the Coordination Framework still boycotted the president selection process. A senior researcher at the National Endowment for Democracy, Rahmah al-Jubouri, said that “the Shiite Coordination Framework may have accepted the election results… [but] should Sadr take control of the government and the state in general, he will likely face a dangerous confrontation with the armed factions—something that he does not want.” That may have been what Sadr hoped to avoid when he resigned and thereby allowed the Iran-backed militias to increase their political power in Iraq by forcing the selection of the prime minister, Mohammed al-Sudani.

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