The “Desert Ghosts” faction in Anbar raises controversy in Iraq… Is it true or just media intimidation?

Media reports say that the “Desert Ghosts” faction is a military force made up of the sons of Anbar and is training at the Ain al-Assad base under American command, and it is affiliated with the current Speaker of Parliament, Muhammad al-Halbousi.

Baghdad- Citizens live on the impact of conflicting news about the emergence of a new Sunni faction called “Desert Ghosts” in Anbar Governorate, western Iraq. According to these reports, this faction is a military force made up of the sons of Anbar and is training at the Ain al-Assad base under American command, and it is affiliated with the current Speaker of Parliament, Muhammad al-Halbousi.

According to what the Iraqis recently circulated, the task of this force is to protect the headquarters of Sunni parties and blocs in the capital from the attacks they are exposed to, and it seeks to spread even in Baghdad.

The communication platforms also circulated the spread of welcome banners at the entrance to the “Abu Ghraib” district, west of the capital, to welcome the arrival of “ghosts of the desert”, which carried the phrase “the people of Abu Ghraib welcome the ghosts of the desert.”

Khazali: The Ghosts of the Desert faction exists on the ground (Al-Jazeera)

new old project

“The ghosts of the desert really exist on the ground,” Haitham al-Khazali, a security expert close to the Popular Mobilization factions, said in an interview with Al Jazeera Net, noting that “this project is (old and new).”

Khazali explains that more than 7 years ago there was an idea to create an armed group that would be a nucleus of power to protect the Sunni region proposed by US President Joe Biden, as part of his plan to divide Iraq into 3 regions. He believes that “this idea has been implemented on the ground in Anbar Governorate today, with great support from the Emirates.”

He points out that “the formation and training of this faction was in one of the bases of the American army, and they are members of the tribes in Anbar province.” He continued, “This project was previously canceled, but now it has returned with the blessing of the three presidencies in Iraq and one of the well-known tribal sheikhs in Anbar.”

Regarding their numbers, he says, “The accurate information that came in connection with this file indicates that the faction contains more than two thousand fighters.”

For his part, the security official of the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades, Abu Ali Al-Askari, said in a tweet on Twitter, “One of the three presidencies, in cooperation with one of the elders of the tribes, established more than a month ago a criminal army in a new dress, and they brought part of it to Baghdad to start a new phase that eliminates the last hopes.” The wounded people.” “We call on the security services, the popular crowd and the Iraqi resistance to confront directly and without hesitation by raiding and expelling these bad guys, and let’s start from Baghdad,” he added.

The news of the presence of this military force angered Parliament Speaker Muhammad al-Halbousi, who was accused of supporting them, which prompted him to comment by saying, “The policy of propaganda intimidation to cause unrest and spread rumors by a group of mercenaries no longer deceives anyone. The events of 2014 were an eloquent lesson that the Iraqis understood well.” In reference to the Islamic State’s control over large parts of the north and northwest of the country in 2014.

Numan Al-Rubaie - Commander of Anbar OperationsAl-Zoba’i considered the reports that talk about the existence of “ghosts of the desert” untrue (Al-Jazeera)

official denial

For his part, the Anbar Operations Commander, Lieutenant-General Numan Abdul Najim Al-Zawba’i, denied the existence of a faction called “Ghosts of Anbar”. He assured Al Jazeera Net that any talk that does not come from military leaders, or officials specializing in the security field, is considered baseless.

Al-Zobaie explained that the Anbar desert is under the control of the Iraqi security forces, and they are conducting periodic operations to search the desert and clear it of ISIS pockets, explaining, “The security forces will take all legal and military measures against any groups outside the framework of the state.”

Muhannad Jawad, a member of the Al-Hadaf Center for Security Studies, believes that “Iraqi circles now witness the existence of two opinions in this regard. The first denies these allegations about the existence of such a faction, especially since it bears the name (Ghosts of the Desert), which indicates something that does not exist.”

In an interview with Al-Jazeera Net, Jawad added, “The other opinion confirms their presence, and they are forces trained before the emergence of ISIS in Iraq, and they have the tasks of protecting the planned Sunni region.”

The researcher said, “The country’s political conflict over the formation of the new government is behind the talk about the emergence of such armed factions, which is a kind of political media wars.”

Jawad pointed out that “the emergence of this issue also came in conjunction with the security breaches that occurred in the capital, Baghdad, and some other provinces, the aim of which is to confuse the security situation in the country.”

*** For internal use only *** Jamal Al Dhuib - Fallujah clansAl-Dhuib: The people of Anbar reject the emergence of such an armed faction (Al-Jazeera)

political struggles

In this regard, the spokesman for Fallujah’s notables, Jamal Al-Dhuib, said, “The past few years have witnessed the emergence of many novels and stories that mainly have certain political interests.”

Al-Dhoib explained in an interview with Al-Jazeera Net, “The news that talks about the emergence of an armed Sunni faction that parallels in its work the Popular Mobilization and supports the idea of ​​a Sunni region are incorrect.”

“Civilians in Anbar reject the emergence of such an armed faction because they suffered difficulties during the period of ISIS control over the cities, in addition to the fact that the province is witnessing great security stability,” he added.

Al-Dhuib considered that “the emergence of these rumors at this time is part of the race to form a government and political conflicts, especially since this period is the stage of forming a new government,” stressing that “the security forces in Anbar impose full control over all the governorate’s cities, including the desert.”

During the past few years, the capital witnessed a series of security incidents, such as targeting party headquarters, an assassination attempt on some personalities, amid fears of a worsening of the situation against the background of the increasing conflict between the political blocs after the results of the parliamentary elections that took place on the tenth of last October.

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