Iraqi Shiite militia forming brigade to defend Jerusalem
A new militia will be formed in Iraq to defend Jerusalem after the United States’ decision to recognize the city as the capital of Israel.
“From tomorrow, we will start to register names of volunteers in all Iraqi provinces to defend Jerusalem,” Safa Tamimi, spokesperson for Saraya al-Salam, told Rudaw TV on Friday evening.
“We will arm, train, and categorize the volunteers according to their specialty after the registration is over,” he said.
Saraya al-Salam is the armed wing of the movement of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. It is part of the Hashd al-Shaabi militias.
Tamimi said the new force is being formed “in response to Donald Trump who tried to put Jerusalem within the framework of Zionist conquests and declared it the capital of Zionism.”
The brigade will not be part of the Hashd al-Shaabi forces, he qualified.
On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump, defying global opposition, announced, “I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the “courageous and just decision.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned Trump’s move as “a deliberate undermining of all efforts exerted to achieve peace and represent a declaration of the United States’ withdrawal from undertaking the role it has played over the past decades in sponsoring the peace process.”
In a speech on Thursday, Sadr called for Arabs and Muslims not to be passive in the face of Trump’s decision.
“There is no peace with the countries of evil, arrogance, and colonialism,” he said, calling the American decision a declaration of hostility towards Islam and Muslims.
In Iraq, he urged Baghdad to close the US embassy.
Sadr issued a warning that “we can reach Israel through Syria,” and said he was ready to be the first soldier.
The Iranian-backed Iraqi militia Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba said the decision justifies targeting US forces, of which there are thousands in Iraq.
The US Embassy in Baghdad has “temporarily restricted movement of its employees” outside of the international zone in the Iraqi capital, citing fear that the decision “may spark violent protests.”
In a ‘Day of Rage’ on Friday, thousands of Palestinians demonstrated against Trump’s decision. At least one person was killed and scores injured in clashes with Israeli troops.
The UN Security Council convened an emergency session on the matter on Friday where Sweden’s Ambassador Olof Skoog said the decision is fueling instability in the Middle East.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley defended the move, arguing Israel has the right to declare Jerusalem its capital.