The wrecks of vehicles used by ISIS militants as car bombs and other metal debris left by the war in Iraq are now helping fund their Iran-backed enemies, industry sources say.
Paramilitaries that helped Iraqi forces drive the ISIS out of its last strongholds in Iraq have taken control of the thriving trade in scrap metal retrieved from the battlefield, according to scrap dealers and others familiar with the trade.
Scrapyard owners, steel plant managers and legislators from around the city of Mosul, the de facto ISIS capital from 2014 to 2017, described to Reuters how the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) have made millions of dollars from the sale of anything from wrecked cars and damaged weapons to water tanks and window frames.
The PMF deny involvement. “The PMF does not have anything to do with any trade activities in Mosul, scrap or otherwise,” a PMF security official in Mosul said.
But interviews at scrapyards and with those in the industry corroborate accounts by lawmakers that the militias oversee or direct the transport of scrap, which is then melted down for use in building materials, and turn a large profit.
These sources say PMF groups use their growing influence -- and sometimes, according to some witnesses, intimidation -- to corner the market and control transport of metal from damaged cities such as Mosul to Kurdish-run northern Iraq where it is bought and melted into steel.
Little of that steel is used to rebuild areas devastated by fighting. It goes instead to Kurdistan or southern Shi’ite provinces, they say.
The trade is one way in which Shi’ite paramilitaries, which are now part of the Iraqi security forces, are transforming their control of land that used to be the ISIS “caliphate” into a source of wealth.
The increasing influence of the PMF umbrella group, whose most powerful factions are backed by Iran, is worrying the United States and Israel as tension mounts with Iran, which is securing its sway over a corridor of territory through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon.
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر