04 Jun 16. There is increasing concern among both Iraqis and regional experts that Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiite militias will enflame sectarian tensions in the fight for the city of Fallujah. These Shiite militias, The Washington Post reported Friday, “have a reputation for brutal reprisals against Sunnis suspected of being loyal to the Islamic State and human rights groups have accused them of torture, forced disappearances and executions.” While Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has pledged to limit their role in the fighting, Michael Pregent, an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute, said, “Abadi is powerless to stop the IRGC-backed Shiite militias.” One of the militias, the Badr Organization, which was formed in Iran, is busy firing artillery shells into the city. BBC News reported that their “radio chatter…was in Farsi [as was] the radio…at the CTF [Counter Terrorism Force] Operations Command center,” referring to an elite unit of the Iraqi army. Ali Khedery, who was the longest continuously serving American official in Iraq, said, “It will not surprise me if the city is leveled and a lot of people are killed at the hands of the Iraqi security forces and militias.” Majid al-Juraisi, a tribal leader from Fallujah, said that these militias “are sectarian just like Daesh [Arabic acronym for ISIS] is sectarian. We reject their involvement in this campaign – completely.”
The Shiite militias operate under the name Popular Mobilization Forces (PMFs) and are commanded by Jamal Jaafar alp-Ibrahimi, whose nom de guerre is Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. The Wall Street Journal referred to him as the “right-hand-man” of Qassem Suleimani, the head of the IRGC’s Quds Force. Militia leaders and Iraqi officials told the Journal that Suleimani “draws up plans for military operations that Mr. Ibrahimi carries out in Iraq, and approves arms and ammunition deliveries from Iran to PMF factions.” Muhandis was designated as a terrorist by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2009 for his acts of violence against U.S. and coalition troops in Iraq and thereby “threatening the peace and stability of Iraq.” Muhandis played a role in the bombing of the U.S. and French embassies in Kuwait in 1983 and in the attempted assassination of the Kuwaiti emir in 1985. During the Iraq War, he was responsible for smuggling weapons from Iran that killed hundreds of American soldiers.
Shiite militias operating in Iraq have been photographed posing with severed heads and torturing their victims. Phillip Smyth, an expert on Shiite militias at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, has said that these groups “pioneered putting power drills through people’s heads, had reportedly carried out extensive ethnic cleansing operations, ran/run secret prisons, and even posed as homosexuals online to lure Iraqi gays in and murder them.” Khedery wrote in Foreign Policy last year that these Shiite militias “represent a clear and present danger to Syria, Iraq, the broader Middle East, and thus to fundamental American interests,” and are used by Iran to “advance its ambitions for regional hegemony.” (Source: theisraelproject.org)
03 Jun 16. New Zealand Defense Budget Breakdown. New Zealand’sbudget for 2016/17, announced May 26, includes just over $2.20bn for the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF). The total includes $501m for the “purchase of assets” and $1.36bn on the three armed services. As usual, the New Zealand Army leads with $543m, followed by the Royal New Zealand Air Force with $517m and the Royal New Zealand Navy with $308m. Both the Army and the Air Force receive more than before, the Navy slightly less.
However, in terms of dollars per person, the Navy, with 2,138 sailors does significantly better than either the 4,622 strong Army or the Air Force with its 2,423 uniformed personnel. Budget documents show that the Air Force’s dollars are directed at surveillance, both over land and sea; strategic and tactical airlift and tactical mobility; and the operation of Kama