In October, ISIS was driven from Jurf al-Sakher, a town about 30 miles southwest of Baghdad. The operation was said to have been planned personally by Suleimani. It featured Quds Force agents and Lebanese Hezbollah militants embedded with some 7,000 troops form the Iraqi Security Forces.
Ahmed al Zamili, the head of the 650-strong Al Qara’a Regiment, one of the militias party to that fight, told the Wall Street Journal that he actually welcomed the invasion of Iraq by ISIS because this dire event would only hasten the return of the Hidden Imam, a religious prophecy which in Shia Islam precedes the founding of a worldwide Islamic state. Al Zamili made it clear that his notion of counterinsurgency was holy war. Meanwhile, 70,000 Sunnis were driven from Jurf al-Sakher, which means “rocky bank” and has now been renamed Jurf al-Nasr (“victory bank”). The provincial council told them they would not be allowed to return for eight or ten months.
“Iran has used Iraq as a petri dish to grown new Shia jihadist groups and spread their ideology,” says Phillip Smyth, an expert on Shia militias. By Smyth’s count, there are more than 50 “highly ideological, anti-American, and rabidly sectarian” Shia militias operating in Iraq today, and recruiting more to their ranks, all with the acquiescence of the central government.
Some of Iraq’s Shia politicians have acknowledged the dismal reality that has attended Baghdad’s outsourcing of its security to “Khomeinists” — and the potential it carries for the kind of all-out sectarian bloodletting that nearly tore the country apart in the mid-2000s.