Visuatrackers’ Daily January 4, 2018

Jan 4, 2018: Haider al-Abadi under pressure from Western allies to dismantle the PMF

Lawmakers close to Abadi and one of his political advisers say he is coming under “tremendous pressure” from the West and Sunni regional allies to dissolve the PMF now that Islamic State, or Daesh, is no longer a major threat.

In a phone call last month, French President Emmanuel Macron encouraged Abadi to dismantle the PMF, said the adviser, who was briefed on the call.

The PMF gained prominence after Sistani called on Iraqis to take up arms against Islamic State when it seized a third of the country in 2014.

Iraq’s Shi‘ite majority also see the PMF’s 150,000 fighters as their saviors. Several militia commanders plan to run against Abadi in parliamentary elections in May and some have warned they will resist attempts to dismantle them.

But militia commanders, such as Ali al-Hussaini from the Imam Ali Brigades, say the PMF played a major part in defeating Islamic State and dismantling them would be a “big mistake”.

The plan will be closely followed by Iran and the United States. The groups are one of Iran’s many levers of influence in Iraq, while for Washington they are a reminder of Tehran’s growing reach in the Middle East.

Iraqi Shi‘ite militia commanders are openly loyal to Tehran, Iranian advisers are seen on Iraqi battlefields, and Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned Abadi in June against weakening the militias.

Security sources and analysts say any attempt by Abadi to muzzle the PMF could invite a backlash from Shi‘ites, who expect the militias to protect them in the event of renewed sectarian conflict in Iraq.

 

Jan 4, 2018: Russia warns US not to interfere in Iran’s ‘domestic affairs’

We warn the US against attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Sergei Ryabkov, the Russian deputy foreign minister said in an interview with state news agency TASS.

Mr Ryabkov also said Washington “is tempted to use the moment to raise new issues with regard to the JCPOA”, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that limits Iran’s nuclear programme, including restrictions on uranium enrichment for 10 years.

 

Jan 4, 2018: Trump vows support for Iran protesters ‘at the appropriate time’

US President Donald Trump pledged unspecified support for Iranians trying to “take back” their government Wednesday, extending a drumbeat of encouragement for countrywide protests. “You will see great support from the United States at the appropriate time!” he said, without offering any specifics on what or when that might be.

 

Jan 4, 2018: Trump administration plans to allow oil and gas drilling off nearly all US coast

The draft plan includes nearly 50 lease sales in all but one of 26 planning areas in US waters, including 19 sales off the coast of Alaska, seven in the Pacific, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico and nine in the Atlantic. The plan reverses protections put in place by the Obama administration and would introduce drilling for the first time to the Atlantic seaboard – a prospect fiercely opposed by communities along the east coast.

“We want to grow our nation’s offshore energy industry, instead of slowly surrendering it to foreign shores,” Zinke said. “This is a clear difference between energy weakness and energy dominance. Under President Trump we’re going to have the strongest energy policies and be the strongest energy superpower.”

 

Oil price up and up as a result of America and Russia plus Iran.

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