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Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : US Designates Iraq’s 'Ansar Allah al-Awfiya' as Terrorist

Sheikh Haydar al-Ghrawi (X)
Sheikh Haydar al-Ghrawi (X)
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US Designates Iraq’s 'Ansar Allah al-Awfiya' as Terrorist

Sheikh Haydar al-Ghrawi (X)
Sheikh Haydar al-Ghrawi (X)

The US Department of State designated an Iraqi faction and its secretary-general, who has political and military influence in the country since his defection from the Sadrist movement in 2013, as terrorist.

“Harakat Ansar Allah al-Awfiya (HAAA) is an Iraq-based Iran-aligned militia group and part of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq (IRI),” the Department said in statement.

The group and its Secretary-General Haydar Muzhir Malak al-Saidi, also known as Sheikh Haydar al-Ghrawi, were designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorists, it added.

The statement said Washington remains committed to using all available tools to counter Iran’s support for terrorism and to degrade and disrupt the ability of Iran-backed groups to conduct terrorist attacks.

In response, HAAA issued a statement saying: “We bring to our proud people the news of the unjust designation issued by the Great Satan (America) against Sheikh Haydar al-Saidi and the movement.”

The US designation is “a tacit acknowledgment of their heroic struggle and honorable defense of the rights of oppressed peoples.”

“It is proof that Sheikh Haydar al-Ghrawi and Harakat Ansar Allah al-Awfiya represent symbols of courage and dignity, having faced challenges and sacrifices with faithful hearts and unwavering resolve. Accusing them of terrorism is nothing more than a badge of honor and pride that history will bestow upon them,” it added.

US Ambassador to Iraq, Alina Romanowski, posted on X that the State Department's terrorist designation of reaffirms Washington’s commitment to countering the malign influence of Tehran and the threats posed by Iran-aligned militia groups.

The Washington Institute describes HAAA as one of the top Iraqi proxies for Iran's Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force. It said this Sadrist breakaway faction has long garrisoned the Syrian border and killed Iraqi protesters to demonstrate its loyalty.

The United States has escalated in recent weeks its rhetoric against Iraqi factions.

Tracy Jacobson, US President Joe Biden's nominee for ambassador to Iraq, surprised Iraqi officials with unconventional statements about Iranian influence and Tehran-backed militias.

Jacobson warned that Iran “remains a malign actor and a destabilizing influence in the region that threatens to undo all of Iraq’s achievements. We recognize that the primary threat to Iraq’s stability and sovereignty are the Iran-aligned militias.”

Press reports said Washington’s recent change of rhetoric could pave the way for attacks on pro-Iranian militias in the country, despite the Iraqi government's appeasement efforts.

During his visit to Washington last April, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shia Al-Sudani reassured the US that his government is able to protect US interests, including the embassy in Baghdad.

However, the targeting of US-branded restaurants by Iraqi factions still worries Washington.

- Who is Harakat Ansar Allah al-Awfiya? -

HAAA first appeared in 2013 after a group of armed militias have defected from the Sadrist movement in Iraq.

Since, the group played key political roles, including its alignment with former prime minister Ibrahim Jaafari to participate in the general election in 2014.

In 2018, the group participated in the general election with the Fatah Alliance led by Badr Organization leader Hadi al-Ameri.

According to the Washington Institute, the group has a political entity in Maysan province, south Iraq, where it holds several provincial council seats. It said the group placed fourth in Maysan's 2013 provincial council elections, a showing that allowed its deputy Murtadha Hamood Ali al-Saidi to become head of the council's integrity committee.

Also, the group is one of the top Iraqi proxies for Iran's Quds Force and has killed Iraqi anti-government protesters in November 2019.

On April 4, 2020, HAAA was one of eight resistance groups to threaten attacks against US targets and prime ministerial candidate Adnan al-Zurfi, whom they accused of being “an American agent.”

Also, in early summer 2023, a reliable open-source article reported that Ghrawi was one of a select group of eight resistance leaders to meet with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in Tehran.

The US said on January 28, 2024 that HAAA members were involved in the deadly drone attack that killed three US soldiers near the Syrian-Jordanian border.



Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Sisi: Regional, Int’l Reality Imposes ‘Complex Challenges’ on Egypt

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (Egyptian Presidency)
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (Egyptian Presidency)
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Sisi: Regional, Int’l Reality Imposes ‘Complex Challenges’ on Egypt

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (Egyptian Presidency)
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (Egyptian Presidency)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Tuesday that the current regional and international reality imposes new challenges and complex situations on Egypt, but then affirmed that his country will overcome this turbulent phase.

In a speech on the occasion of the 72nd anniversary of the July 23 Revolution, Sisi spoke of the repercussions of the regional wars now raging in the Gaza Strip and Sudan.

He mentioned the situation in the region such as wars, conflicts, civil strife, state fragmentation, institutional collapse, humanitarian catastrophes, famine outbreaks, and massive displacement.

“These unprecedented circumstances add tremendous burdens on Egypt, which can only be alleviated by my firm belief in the strength, resilience, unity, and cohesion of our great people who stand as a single structure, supporting each other, in the face of adversity,” Sisi said.

He affirmed that Egypt will overcome this turbulent phase, and continue its path towards progress, development, as well as building the nation.

“Egypt has kept pace with the changes of time, opening to the world and striving to enhance its economic, investment, urban, and industrial capabilities,” Sisi said.

He added that his country has also integrated into the global trade system while focusing on protecting the national economy as much as possible from the fluctuations and shocks of the global economy.

“This has been achieved through comprehensive and effective systems, offering the necessary social protection,” Sisi said.

The Egyptian President also renewed his country’s support for the Palestinians, affirming intensively working to support their legitimate right to an independent and sovereign state.