Iraq arrests 'Emirati infiltrators cell' amid mass protests
The cell has been carrying out activities aimed at destabilising the Iraqi state, although its specific actions have not been made public, nor have Iraq’s authorities confirmed the arrests.
The group, whose members are allegedly Lebanese, is also directly linked to the United Arab Emirates’ National Security Advisor Tahnoun bin Zayed, claimed independent radio station, Voice of Iraq.
The most senior member is reportedly an advisor to the Shia Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) paramilitary group, who are accused of committing atrocities in Iraq while battling the Islamic State (IS) group in recent years.
The member in question is also tied to Mohammed Dahlan, a former Palestinian strongman and head of security for the Palestinian Authority.
Local Iraqi media have reported that the brother of Abu Dhabi’s crown prince is in talks with Iraqi authorities via a Western power to “resolve” the issue.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia are known to pay foreign mercenaries give support to proxies in various neighbouring conflicts in order to assert influence in the region.
Although Iraq’s month-long protest movement is rooted mainly in popular activism rallying against corruption and unemployment, some foreign interference has been suspected.
Iran’s leadership has also been lambasted by many observers for calling the protest movement - much of it also rallying against Iranian meddling in Iraqi politics - a US, Saudi and Israeli plot.