When Shiite members of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) attacked the American embassy in Baghdad, in a deliberate recreation of the attack on our embassy in Tehran that had ushered in a new age of Shiite terror, the media was quick to label it ‘Trump’s Benghazi’.
The parallels are certainly there.
In both Benghazi and Baghdad, Islamist terror militias who we thought were our allies turned on the United States. In both cases, there was nothing surprising or unexpected about this inevitable development to anyone except foreign policy experts and the media.
And, in both Benghazi and Baghdad, the Obama administration’s policy of cultivating Islamic terrorists had come home to roost.
The Islamists who attacked the embassy were not Trump’s allies, but Obama’s allies.
When Hadi al-Amiri, the head of the Badr Brigade, the former military wing of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, came to the White House, it was in 2011, not 2017.
The close IRGC ally was welcomed by Barack Obama, and played a role in the embassy attack. The IRGC, Iran’s global terror hub, had been listed as a terror group by President Trump, a move resisted by Barack Obama dating back to his time in the Senate.
Once in the White House, Obama’s policies so empowered and enabled the IRGC that in one of the most infamous incidents in American history, members of the Islamic terror group captured and humiliated American sailors. There is little doubt that the IRGC was the hidden hand behind the embassy attack in Baghdad through its PMF proxies.
The rise of ISIS and the attack on our embassy in Baghdad had their roots in Obama’s backing for Iraq’s Shiite dominated government in Baghdad. The Bush administration had tried to unite Sunni and Shiite Muslims into a political system that would sideline Al Qaeda on the Sunni side and Iran on the Shiite side. Iraqi civil society was probably always doomed, but Obama’s Iraq policy was to turn the country over to the terrorists.
Obama wanted to pull out of Iraq as soon as possible. His plan for a quick pullout was to allow Iran a free hand in Baghdad. Iraq’s central government dominated by Shiite Islamists loyal to Iran allowed Islamic militias backed and trained by Iran to execute gays and impose Islamic law in the streets. The Sunni tribal leaders who had made the ‘awakening’ against Al Qaeda possible were ignored when they came to D.C. seeking support against Iran.
While the media went on touting Obama’s incredible successes in Iraq, the country split into two terror camps. While the Popular Mobilization Forces rolled up Shiite areas, Al Qaeda in Iraq reinvented itself as ISIS.
Unlike President Trump, Obama chose not to hit ISIS hard. Instead, after Iraq’s military collapsed, his administration’s anti-ISIS strategy relied heavily on supporting the Shiite PMF militias which included embedded Iranian forces.
Obama had helped birth the Islamic State by backing Iran’s takeover of Iraq. Forced to fight ISIS, he doubled down on the same strategy. And that completed the takeover.
The marginalization of the Kurds, whose attempts at creating an independent state were crushed by the Shiite regime in Baghdad, and the Sunnis, who had been caught between Iran and ISIS, ended military opposition to the Iranian takeover of Iraq.
But political protests against the Iranian puppet regime broke out, leading to violent clashes between protesters and PMF thugs, PMF attacks on Americans, American retaliation against PMFs, and the attack on the United States embassy by the PMFs.
Iran’s takeover of Iraq, like its involvement in Yemen’s civil war, in Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza, had been funded by the wages of Obama’s nuclear sellout. The billions that the Obama administration had directly and indirectly handed to the terrorists of Tehran were used to fund soft and hard influence across the region.
The Iran deal didn’t just mean that the terror regime was able to continue building up its nuclear program, but that it could increase its financial commitments to Hamas, help build up Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, and the PMFs in Iraq.
Iran had four things to offer its Shiite (and occasional Sunni fellow travelers ranging from Hamas to Al Qaeda) Islamist allies. These were weapons, training, a global network, and money. Of these money was the most generic, but also the most important.
Islamic terrorism is only partly built on the suicidal fanatics willing to die for Allah. It’s mostly built on amateur and professional killers who want to get paid.
Choke off the money and recruitment drops
Under Obama, billions in foreign currency were illegally flown into Iran on unmarked cargo planes, but Trump cut off the cash.
The cash crunch not only weakened Iran’s regime, where fresh protests arose, but its terror networks, including in Iraq, began facing their own cash shortages. And so Iran’s rulers, their IRGC hidden hand, and their Islamist PMF proxies decided to send America and the protesters a message.
Earlier this year, the Trump administration had sanctioned the South Wealth Resources Company (SWRC), allegedly a key conduit for the IRGC’s ability to smuggle weapons and money in and through Iraq.
The sanctioning of the IRGC itself had met with anger from the Badr Brigade and Hadi al-Amiri. The conflict escalated with Kataeb Hezbollah, a PMF, attacking Americans. The death of an American contractor in a Kataeb Hezbollah rocket attack raised the stakes. President Trump struck back with airstrikes against Kataeb Hezbollah. And Kataeb Hezbollah attacked the embassy.
Kataeb Hezbollah is another project of the IRGC and is led by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis who was part of the attack on the embassy. Muhandis is the Deputy Commander of PMF who is linked to the 1983 truck bombing of the US embassy in Kuwait which, had it been better planned, could have destroyed the facility.
After the airstrikes, Al-Muhandis warned, that “the response to the Americans will be harsh.”
But who helped build up this terrorist infrastructure? The Obama administration did. Beyond its illegal foreign cash shipments to Iran and the sanctions relief, the PMFs benefited from US foreign aid directed through Iraq’s Interior Ministry.
Even as Iraq’s Interior Ministry was headed by a Badr leader trained by Iranian forces who had been arrested for smuggling explosives used to attack American soldiers, our foreign aid kept flowing through an Iraqi ministry run by terrorists.
The Obama administration was funding terrorists to fight terrorism. It was the same disastrous scenario that had led to the massacre in Benghazi.
The only difference was that the blowback took longer to arrive in Baghdad than it did in Benghazi.
Obama’s foreign policy operatives and the media have blamed the embassy attack on Trump’s pressure on Iran, rather than on Obama’s appeasement of Iran.
This is a variation of the same cynical Obama administration strategy which manufactured a fake intelligence community consensus blaming Benghazi on a protest over a Mohammed YouTube video, instead of a coordinated transnational wave of Islamist attacks coordinated well ahead of time to coincide with September 11.
The Obama administration may be history, but the damage it did still revebrates through the region as the Islamist forces it unleashed continue to tear apart nations and to threaten American lives.