Karim al-Nouri

Karim al-Nouri is former spokesman of the Iran-backed Badr Organization who unsuccessfully ran for Iraq’s parliament in 2018.“Fatah Alliance Dismisses Earlier Comments by Badr Leader Karim Nouri,” NRT, August 7, 2018, http://www.nrttv.com/en/News.aspx?id=3161&MapID=2. Between 2014 and 2018, he served as a spokesman for Iraq’s Haashid Shaabi, the umbrella group of anti-ISIS Shiite militias also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). Speaking on behalf of the Iran-supported PMF, Nouri accused the U.S.-led anti-ISIS international coalition of promulgating terrorism in Iraq and supporting ISIS.“Hashd Al-Shaabi Denies US Partnership in Liberation of Mosul,” Fars News Agency, July 1, 2015, https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960410001122. He has also praised Iran’s support for Iraq and its stance against terrorism.“IMIS spokesman lauds Iran’s intervention in Iraq,” Baghdad Post, July 2, 2017, https://www.thebaghdadpost.com/en/Story/13849/IMIS-spokesman-lauds-Iran-s-intervention-in-Iraq.

Nouri was imprisoned for five years in Iraq under Saddam Hussein in the early 1980s. After his release in 1985, he moved to Iran where he stayed for almost two decades. It was there that Nouri joined the Badr Organization. Nouri returned to Iraq in 2003 after Hussein’s fall from power, which allowed the Badr Organization to join Iraqi politics.Simona Foltyn, “One Possible Winner in the Iraqi Elections: Iran,” Nation, May 11, 2018, https://www.thenation.com/article/iraq-parliamentary-elections-iran-militia/. Nouri acted as a spokesman for Badr leader Hadi al-Amiri while he served as Iraq’s transportation minister from 2011 to 2014.Loveday Morris, “Appointment of Iraq’s new interior minister opens door to militia and Iranian influence,” Washington Post, October 18, 2014, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/appointment-of-iraqs-new-interior-minister-opens-door-to-militia-and-iranian-influence/2014/10/18/f6f2a347-d38c-4743-902a-254a169ca274_story.html; Saif Hameed and Ahmed Rasheed, “Iraq's interior minister resigns after massive Baghdad bomb attack,” Reuters, July 5, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-minister-idUSKCN0ZL1II. In September 2013, Nouri dismissed U.S. claims that Iran was using civilian planes to transport weapons to Syria to help President Bashar al-Assad in his country’s civil war. According to Nouri, Iraqi officials randomly inspect Iranian planes and have found only medicine and other aid.“Iraqi Official Stresses Civilian Nature of Iran's Air Cargoes to Syria,” Fars News Agency, September 11, 2013, https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13920620001035, Associated Press, “Iraqi Airways takes delivery of Boeing 777,” Arab News, December 16, 2012, https://www.arabnews.com/iraqi-airways-takes-delivery-boeing-777.

After working as Amiri’s spokesman at the transportation ministry, Nouri became the spokesman for the PMF. The PMF coordinate anti-ISIS military ventures between the Syrian army and Iranian-sponsored militias.“Top Iraqi Militia Leader: Fighting for Iran under Soleimani's leadership Is “Blessing from God”,” Middle East Institute, April 5, 2017, http://www.mei.edu/publications/top-iraqi-militia-leader-fighting-iran-under-soleimanis-leadership-blessing-god; Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, “Hashd Brigade Numbers Index,” Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi’s Blog, October 31, 2017, http://www.aymennjawad.org/2017/10/hashd-brigade-numbers-index; Ali Jawad, “Iraq rejects proposal to register Shia militia as party,” Anadolu Agency, August 29, 2016, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/iraq-rejects-proposal-to-register-shia-militia-as-party/637337. While in this role, Nouri accused both Turkey and the United States of supporting ISIS.“Turkish Military Incursions into Iraq Violation of Int’l Law: Spokesman,” Tasnim News Agency, October 3, 2016, https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2016/10/03/1203324/turkish-military-incursions-into-iraq-violation-of-int-l-law-spokesman; “Turkey sheltering Daesh militants: Iraqi cmdr.,” Press TV, December 25, 2015, https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2015/12/25/443144/Turkey-shelter-Daesh-Badr-commander-Karim-alNouri; “Hashd Al-Shaabi Denies US Partnership in Liberation of Mosul,” Fars News Agency, July 1, 2015, https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960410001122. Nouri is staunchly anti-American. He has called the U.S. presence in Iraq both a military occupation and a provocation.Simona Foltyn, “One Possible Winner in the Iraqi Elections: Iran,” Nation, May 11, 2018, https://www.thenation.com/article/iraq-parliamentary-elections-iran-militia/. He has stated his belief that the United States is aiding ISIS“Hashd Al-Shaabi Denies US Partnership in Liberation of Mosul,” Fars News Agency, July 1, 2015, https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960410001122. and has threatened to resist the U.S. presence in the country.“SENIOR BADR ORGANIZATION OFFICIAL KARIM AL-NOURI THREATENS "RESPONSE BY THE RESISTANCE" FOLLOWING PRESIDENT TRUMP'S VISIT TO IRAQ,” MEMRI, December 31, 2018, https://www.memri.org/tv/senior-badr-organization-karim-nouri-americans-remain-iraq-resistance-response.

In 2017, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi barred militia members from running in the following year’s parliamentary elections.Mina Aldroubi, “Abadi bans militia leaders from Iraq elections,” National (Abu Dhabi), November 19, 2017, https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/abadi-bans-militia-leaders-from-iraq-elections-1.677110. As a result, Nouri and other PMF members resigned their military posts. Nouri ran for Iraq’s parliament in May 2018 on the ticket of the Fatah Alliance made up of Iran-backed militias.Simona Foltyn, “Will Iraq’s Old Divisions Undermine Its New Prime Minister?,” Foreign Policy, February 5, 2019, https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/02/05/iraqs-prime-minister-faces-old-challenges-to-deliver-on-reform/; Ahmad Majidyar, “Iran-backed Fateh Alliance seeks to win or play kingmaker in upcoming Iraqi elections,” Middle East Institute, May 3, 2018, https://www.mei.edu/publications/iran-backed-fateh-alliance-seeks-win-or-play-kingmaker-upcoming-iraqi-elections. Nouri failed to win a seat in parliament.“Fatah Alliance Dismisses Earlier Comments by Badr Leader Karim Nouri,” NRT, August 7, 2018, http://www.nrttv.com/en/News.aspx?id=3161&MapID=2. Nevertheless, Nouri publicly stated that July that he and other PMF commanders were transitioning into politics. “We are going to enter parliament in civilian clothes, not uniforms,” he told the Financial Times.Andrew England, “Iraq’s Shia militias: capturing the state,” Financial Times, July 31, 2018, https://www.ft.com/content/ba4f7bb2-6d4d-11e8-852d-d8b934ff5ffa.

Nouri has seemingly fallen out of favor with the Iraqi political leadership and the Badr Organization. He has accused Iraqi political parties of enriching themselves through government ministries instead of serving the people.Simona Foltyn, “Will Iraq’s Old Divisions Undermine Its New Prime Minister?,” Foreign Policy, February 5, 2019, https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/02/05/iraqs-prime-minister-faces-old-challenges-to-deliver-on-reform/. According to the leadership of the Fatah Alliance in August 2018, Nouri no longer has an official position in the alliance or the Badr Organization.“Karim al-Nuri doesn’t represent us: Fatah Alliance,” Baghdad Post, August 7, 2018, https://www.thebaghdadpost.com/en/Story/30397/Karim-al-Nuri-doesn-t-represent-us-Fatah-Alliance. The Fatah Alliance statement alleged that Nouri’s views were “confused and paid for.”“Fatah Alliance Dismisses Earlier Comments by Badr Leader Karim Nouri,” NRT, August 7, 2018, http://www.nrttv.com/en/News.aspx?id=3161&MapID=2. The alliance further urged Iraqi media not to give Nouri any platform.“Fatah Alliance Dismisses Earlier Comments by Badr Leader Karim Nouri,” NRT, August 7, 2018, http://www.nrttv.com/en/News.aspx?id=3161&MapID=2. Nouri’s exact relationship within Badr remains unclear. That December he appeared in a televised interview in Iraq as a senior Badr official. During the interview, he threatened a “response by the resistance” to the continued American presence in Iraq.“SENIOR BADR ORGANIZATION OFFICIAL KARIM AL-NOURI THREATENS "RESPONSE BY THE RESISTANCE" FOLLOWING PRESIDENT TRUMP'S VISIT TO IRAQ,” MEMRI, December 31, 2018, https://www.memri.org/tv/senior-badr-organization-karim-nouri-americans-remain-iraq-resistance-response.

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