Qatar-based Al Jazeera has not carried a lengthy piece on AAH. The longest discussion on the group appeared in a June 2014 article titled “Mapping Iraq’s fighting groups.” The three paragraph synopsis described AAH as a “militia group that fought US forces” that now has “political representation in the Iraqi parliament.”Alaa Bayoumi and Leah Harding, “Mapping Iraq’s fighting groups,” Al Jazeera, June 27, 2014, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/06/mapping-out-iraq-fighting-groups-201462494731548175.html. Other Al Jazeera articles have described AAH as a “hardline Shia group” and “paramilitary organization” (April 2014),Barry Malone, “Iraq braces for more election violence,” Al Jazeera, April 26, 2014, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/04/iraq-braces-more-election-violence-201442618366267579.html. and a “Shia militia” (February 23, 2015).Suadad al-Salhy, “Sunni boycott threatens reconciliation efforts in Iraq,” Al Jazeera, February 23, 2015, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/02/sunni-boycott-threatens-reconciliation-efforts-iraq-150223091549767.html. On February 25, 2015, Al Jazeera carried an opinion piece in which Washington Institute for Near East Policy fellow Michael Knights referred to AAH as an “Iranian-backed…terror group.”Michael Knights, “Kirkuk foreshadows challenges for a post-ISIL Iraq,” Al Jazeera, February 25, 2015, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/02/kirkuk-foreshadows-challenges-post-isil-iraq-150224094753681.html.
Asharq al-Awsat, a pan-Arab daily based in London, has also failed to cover AAH in depth. In January 2011, Asharq al-Awsat carried a report describing AAH as a “Shiite insurgent group in Iraq” and mentioned its history of attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces. Revealing information from “informed sources,” Asharq al-Awsat reported that AAH had allegedly threatened Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of a powerful Iraq-based Shiite movement from which AAH broke away. The report detailed AAH’s close relationship with Iran, but stressed possible complications for Iran on the al-Sadr—AAH divide. Asharq al-Awsat quoted an anonymous source as saying, “Whilst al-Sadr follows [Grand Ayatollah] Kazem al-Haeri as his religious marja, Khazali follows [Grand Ayatollah] Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi.”“Al-Sadr fled to Iran due to assassination fears,” Asharq al-Awsat (London), January 26, 2011, http://www.aawsat.net/2011/01/article55247760/al-sadr-fled-to-iran-due-to-assassination-fears.
An October 2013 piece in Asharq al-Awsat followed the al-Sadr—AAH story, reporting that al-Sadr had “prohibited his supporters from engaging in confrontations with [AAH].” Surprisingly, the Arab paper quoted AAH spokesman Ahmed al-Assadi numerous times. Al-Assadi reportedly assured al-Awsat that “The issue has been resolved in a tribal manner and apart from that nothing has happened recently.”Hamza Mustafa, “Iraq: Sadr avoids confrontation with Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq,” Asharq al-Awsat (London), October 29, 2013, http://www.aawsat.net/2013/10/article55320761/iraq-sadr-avoids-confrontation-with-asaib-ahl-al-haq.
Arab news sources in English rarely produce original content containing information on AAH, opting instead to republish Reuters and AFP articles that briefly mention the group alongside other Shiite militias. However, opinion pieces carried by Saudi-owned news outlets such as Al Arabiya and Arab News are passionately critical of AAH. In an August 2014 Al Arabiya opinion piece, Jordanian journalist Raed Omari stacked AAH alongside al-Qaeda and ISIS: “I wonder why it is that the Iraqi Asaib Ahl al-Haq (League of the Righteous) has not been labeled a terrorist organization… Terrorism is terrorism… ISIS, the Nusra Front, Asaib Ahl al-Haq and the Syrian regime are all terrorist groups, responsible for mass killings, torture and crimes against humanity.”Raed Omari, “What's the difference between ISIS and Asaib Ahl al-Haq?,” Al Arabiya, August 31, 2014, http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2014/08/31/What-s-the-difference-between-ISIS-and-Asaib-Ahl-al-Haq-.html. Similarly, Arab News carried a March 2015 opinion piece in which Lebanon-based Diana Moukalled furiously wrote, “What is even more galling here is that these people will then insist that…Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq or any of these other groups Iran supports offer ‘less harrowing’ alternatives to [ISIS],” bashing both ISIS and Tehran.Diana Moukalled, “Iran’s insane propaganda,” Arab News, March 4, 2015, http://www.arabnews.com/columns/news/713231.