Unintended Consequences of Turkish-Saudi threats: Tightening of Iraq-Syria militia relations
A very interesting piece translated tonight in our Mideastwire.com briefing:
On February 17, the Al-Akhbar daily newspaper carried the following report: “After having been pressured internally and banned from partaking in the large liberation operations against ISIL in Al-Anbar, in addition to being pushed away from Mosul according to intersecting pieces of information, the Popular Mobilization Forces are still proving that they are an important part of the equation for eliminating ISIL and not just in Iraq. Indeed, a prominent delegation from the Mobilization forces has reached Syria in the past two days.
“A source at the Mobilization Forces told Al-Akhbar that a “delegation from the Forces – including the official spokesperson and the man in charge of Al-Imam brigades, Iraqi MP Ahmad al-Assadi, and the member of the opinion commission and one of the forces’ media spokespersons, Yazan Mashaan al-Jabouri – is visiting Syria since early this week.” The source stressed that the delegation met with representatives from the Syrian People’s Council in addition to Syrian military and security officials as well as officials from the “resistance factions” that are engaged in the fights there.
“The source added that the Mobilization officials who are visiting Syria avoided to make any announcements about the visit or its details. However, Yazan al-Jabouri posted two photos with Al-Assadi on his Facebook page and wrote: “We came to the resisting Damascus to stress that our only option is victory” without mentioning any details about the visit. According to the source, “the meetings discussed the potential Saudi-Turkish intervention in the Syrian lands and the pressure against the Mobilization Forces and the resistance factions in Iraq and Syria.”
“…For his part, the official spokesperson for the foreign ministry, Ahmad Jamal, told Al-Akhbar that the ministry has no knowledge about this visit. Meanwhile, political analyst, Athir Idriss, said that “the visit of the Popular Mobilization delegation to Syria is an attempt at opening a channel of communication and coordination with Damascus pertaining to the developments and field givens since preparations are now underway for the Mosul liberation battle; while the Syrian army is planning on marching towards the city of Raqqa and seizing some locations on the outlines of the governorate within the next few days.”
“Idriss also told Al-Akhbar that “there’s a major possibility that ISIL might be cornered from two sides in Raqqa and Mosul if an agreement is reached on the participation of the Popular Mobilization Forces in liberating Mosul or appointing these forces to some missions in the battle.” He further referred to the “good relationship” connecting the head of the Mobilization body, Faleh al-Fayad and his deputy, Abou Mehdy al-Mohandes, to Syria whereby Al-Fayad met with the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, on several instances in his capacity as an adviser for national security.”