Hassan Salem is a member of the Iraqi parliament and head of al-Sadiqun (“the Honest Ones”), the political bloc of Iran-backed Iraqi militia Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH).“Sadiqin: The dream of the Americans will not be fulfilled, and we intend to legislate a law that will expel them,” Mawazin News, January 17, 2019, https://www.mawazin.net/Details.aspx?jimare=29837. Salem participated in violent protests against the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on December 31, 2019, during which he declared the coming end of the United States.Steven Nabil, Twitter post, December 31, 2019, 8:54 a.m., https://twitter.com/thestevennabil/status/1212009203306397703; Michael R. Gordon, Isabel Coles, and Ghassan Adnan, “Trump Vows Retaliation After Iran-Backed Militia Supporters Try to Storm U.S. Embassy in Baghdad,” Wall Street Journal, December 31, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/protesters-attempt-to-storm-u-s-embassy-in-baghdad-11577787978; Hassan Salem, Twitter post, December 31, 2019, 5:11 p.m., https://twitter.com/HASSAN_SALEM65/status/1212134227103363073.
Salem first joined parliament in 2014 when Sadiqun ran under the State of Law bloc in the April 2014 Iraqi national elections, winning one seat. Salem joined the parliament’s Security and Defense Committee.Nicholas A. Heras, “Iraqi Shi’a Militia Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq Expands Operations to Syria,” Jamestown Foundation, May 15, 2014, http://www.jamestown.org/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=42367&no_cache=1#.VTlNmiHBzGc; John Hall, “Shocking image shows child aged under ten being used to fire rockets from car-mounted missile launcher in Iraq against ISIS targets,” Daily Mail (London), December 24, 2014, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2885162/Chilling-image-shows-child-aged-ten-used-fire-rockets-car-mounted-missile-launcher-Iraq-against-ISIS-targets.html; Garrett Nada and Mattisan Rowan, “Part 2: Pro-Iran Militias in Iraq,” Wilson Center, April 27, 2018, https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/part-2-pro-iran-militias-iraq; Libya Herald, “ELECTIONS 2014: Final results for House of Representative elections announced,” El Observatorio Político y Electoral del Mundo Árabe y Musulmán, July 22, 2014, http://www.opemam.org/node/5948. AAH’s political branch has sought to distance itself from the group’s militant branch, accused by international human rights organizations of various war crimes.Omar Sattar, “Why Iraq’s law on Popular Mobilization Units isn't all that popular,” Al-Monitor, March 8, 2017, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/03/iraq-election-pmu-shiite-militias-abadi.html#ixzz4bQMI6UB4. In May 2017, the group earned a license to operate as a political party and run in the next Iraqi elections under its own name.“Iraq: High Electoral Commission Grants License To Shiite Militia,” Stratfor, May 24, 2017, https://www.stratfor.com/situation-report/iraq-high-electoral-commission-grants-license-shiite-militia. The party won 15 seats in Iraq’s May 2018 parliamentary elections.Michael Knights and Frzand Sherko, “Can Asaib Ahl al-Haq Join the Political Mainstream?,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, February 14, 2019, https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/can-asaib-ahl-al-haq-join-the-political-mainstream. Salem won re-election and joined the Services, Reconstruction, Transport, and Communications Committee.Kosar Nawzad, “Iraqi parliament votes in new committee members,” Kurdistan 24, November 10, 2018, https://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/d634370d-f075-4822-a8b2-a1cc81d4de03.
Salem has taken an adversarial position with the United States and supported parliamentary efforts to expel U.S. forces from Iraq.Omar al-Jaffal, “Iraqis split over US military decision to stay in Iraq,” Al-Monitor, August 30, 2018, https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/08/iraq-us-troops-isis-security.html. He has accused the United States of supporting ISIS and other terrorist groups in Iraq. Salem has called for the closure of the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, which he said “has turned into a center for Israel’s Mossad” and ISIS terrorists.Tamar Beeri, “Iraqi MP: US Embassy in Baghdad serves as headquarters for Mossad, ISIS,” Jerusalem Post, July 14, 2019, https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Iraqi-PM-US-embassy-hosts-Mossad-agents-ISIS-terrorists-595644. He also accused the embassy of “interfering” in Iraq’s internal affairs by “spying, spreading rumors and hatching plots.”Tamar Beeri, “Iraqi MP: US Embassy in Baghdad serves as headquarters for Mossad, ISIS,” Jerusalem Post, July 14, 2019, https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Iraqi-PM-US-embassy-hosts-Mossad-agents-ISIS-terrorists-595644.
In March 2015, Salem accused U.S. forces of aiding ISIS fighters in escaping the region.“Hard-line Shiite militias quit Tikrit campaign over US airstrikes,” Rudaw, March 27, 2015, https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/270320151. In a February 2019 interview with Iranian media, Salem accused U.S. forces stationed at Iraq’s Ain Al-Asad military base of providing support to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Iraq’s Anbar Desert. Salem further alleged that U.S. forces facilitate Baghdadi’s travel between Iraq and Syria. Washington’s support of Baghdadi stems from its fear of an Iraqi parliament draft bill that would expel U.S. forces from Iraq, according to Salem.“Iraq MP: US giving Daesh head Baghdadi protection,” Middle East Monitor, February 28, 2019, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190228-iraq-mp-us-giving-daesh-head-baghdadi-protection/; “US-Occupied Base in Western Iraq Protecting Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi,” Fars News Agency, February 26, 2019, https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13971207000200.