Giving the administration another potential excuse to stall the US pullout from Iraq, officials are now warning that the Asaib Ahl al-Haq (League of the Righteous), a long-standing anti-US Shi’ite militia, has been consolidating power and intends to attack the Green Zone and other US bases.
The group’s power has been growing since the dissolution of the Mehdi Army, and is led by a former Sadr ally, Qais al-Khazali. Most recently the group was said to have abducted a US contractor, issuing demands that the US punish Blackwater for the September 2007 Baghdad massacre.
US allegations about the group are long-standing, and last year officials claimed that it was being given guidance by key Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi, whose role in the Iraq election bannings has since become a matter of serious concern.
Officials are predicting that Asaib Ahl al-Haq will try to launch more attacks against US forces as they near the withdrawal date, hoping to claim credit for the US exit. The US, presumably, would stay just to spite the group.
Over the past several weeks the Obama Administration has claimed the withdrawal is going according to plans, while privately there are growing admissions that any number of problems, from the increase in violence to the political discord expected from Sunday’s election, could force them to go with “plan B,” which would involve slowing or entirely stopping the pullout.
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