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Opposition Groups Protest Presence Of Foreign Militias In Iran

Iran - Iraqi Shiite militia arriving vehicles in Iran's Khuzestan province "to help in flood relief". April 11, 2019

Four Iranian republican parties and political organizations have condemned the presence of foreign militia, including the Iraqi Hashd al-Sha'bi in flood stricken areas of Iran and have called for deporting them from the country.

The four groups, namely the Union of Iranian Republicans, The National Front of Iran, the Solidarity of Iranian Republicans and the Leftist Party of Iran (Fedayeen-e Khalq), said in a joint statement on Thursday April 18 that the reason for the presence of Iraqi Hashd al-Sha'bi and Al Nojaba as well as the Afghan Fatemiyoun groupsis political, and that they are not in Iran for humanitarian reasons.

The statement added that these are guerrilla groups that "have been accused of committing war crimes," adding that their presence in Iran "threatens the country's national interests."

The statement added: "While the Islamic Republic of Iran has imposed limitations on the voluntary participation of Iranian people, athletes, and civil society in relief efforts and in some cases has even arrested relief workers and generally obstructed independent relief work, inviting groups that have no experience or capability in flood relief is questionable."

Meanwhile, speaking to Radio Farda, Homayoun Mehmanesh, a foreign-based member of the National Front of Iran said: "the presence of foreign forces in Iran is unusual and has objectives other than humanitarian relief work." However, he added that this means the Islamic Republic and its revolutionary guards have not been able to help the flood-hit people.

Mehmanesh added that the Islamic Republic is at the same time paving the way for using the foreign militia in its confrontation with the people in case dissent escalates and anti-government protests start in the flood-hit areas.

He reminded that as Iran's policies in Iraq and Syria have failed, Iran has withdrawn the militia from Syria and Iraq and brought them to Iran.

Earlier, hardline daily Kayhan, which is close to the office of the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, reported that IRGC Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani has invited Shiite militia from Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan to come to Iran's Lorestan and Khuzestan provinces.

Foreign militia's presence in the two provinces has elicited a wave of criticism in Iran. This comes while the militia's commanders say they are in Iran to help with relief efforts in flood-hit areas.

At the same time, even some of the members of Iranian Parliament including MPs from Khuzestan Province have said they do not know how they have arrived in Iran and where are they based.

According to Iranian laws, inviting foreign forces to Iran requires special permissions from the Parliament (Majles) and the Supreme National Security Council. There has been no report yet about the issuance of any such permission.

Ehsan Hosseinzadeh, an Iranian lawyer based in France told Radio Farda, "There is nothing in the charter of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps that would allow the IRGC to invite foreign forces to Iran," adding that inviting Hashd al-Sha'bi and other militia groups to Iran was "illegal".

Meanwhile, Iranian analyst Saeed Bashirtash said in an interview with Radio Farda that there were no humanitarian reasons for the foreign militia's arrival into Iran, adding that they do not specialize in relief efforts. He further added that the Islamic Republic is preparing public opinion to accept more widespread presence of these forces in Iran.