Who was Abu Taqwa, killed in US Strike in Baghdad?

Supporters of Harakat al Nujaba group in Iraq carry a picture of Abu Taqwa Al-Saedi during his funeral procession in Baghdad on Thursday (AFP)
Supporters of Harakat al Nujaba group in Iraq carry a picture of Abu Taqwa Al-Saedi during his funeral procession in Baghdad on Thursday (AFP)
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Who was Abu Taqwa, killed in US Strike in Baghdad?

Supporters of Harakat al Nujaba group in Iraq carry a picture of Abu Taqwa Al-Saedi during his funeral procession in Baghdad on Thursday (AFP)
Supporters of Harakat al Nujaba group in Iraq carry a picture of Abu Taqwa Al-Saedi during his funeral procession in Baghdad on Thursday (AFP)

In Iraq, Abu Taqwa Al-Saedi, leader of the “Rocket Battalion” within the Harakat al Nujaba group, was killed in a US attack on their Baghdad headquarters.

Al-Saedi’s battalion has been unusually active since the beginning of war in Gaza, operating between Iraqi cities and Syria.

According to a statement issued by the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), which Harakat al Nujaba group is a part of, Al-Saedi also served as the “Deputy Commander of the Operations for the Baghdad Belt,” referring to the agricultural areas surrounding the capital.

The Harakat al Nujaba, close to Tehran and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, lacks parliamentary representation in Iraq but wields significant influence over the government’s coordinating framework.

Al-Saedi, also the commander of the PMF’s 12th Brigade, was targeted by four US drone strikes as his convoy moved in eastern Baghdad’s Palestine Street area on Thursday morning.

The US drone tracked Al-Saedi’s convoy from the Syrian border until it reached Baghdad, executing the operation finally within the security headquarters near the Iraqi Ministry of Interior.

The US military confirmed staging an attack on an armed faction’s headquarters in Baghdad, targeting an individual responsible for attacks against military bases in the country.

Al-Saedi’s full name is Mushtaq Talib Al-Saedi, known by his alias “Abu Taqwa.”

He hails from a modest family residing in “Al-Kamaliya” neighborhood, one of the populous districts to the east of Baghdad.

However, his family roots trace back to Diyala Province in the east of Iraq.

Sources close to Al-Saedi, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat under the conditions of anonymity, reveal that he was an active member of the Sadr movement led by Muqtada Al-Sadr before being arrested by US forces between 2007 and 2012.

Al-Saedi later broke away from the Sadr movement to join the Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq movement led by Qais Al-Khazali, only to defect again and align himself with Harakat al Nujaba.

Al-Saedi, as per the sources, agreed to a deal proposed by a high-ranking Iraqi official, which included the condition of “defecting from the Sadr movement in exchange for assistance from the Americans in securing his release.”

Since joining the Harakat al Nujaba, Al-Saedi has held pivotal positions directly related to the management and planning of military operations, particularly targeting the military bases occupied by the US-led International Coalition in Iraq and Syria.



What Are the Implications of the Visit by 4 Arab Leaders to China?

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during a meeting with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Cairo in January. (Egyptian Presidency)
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during a meeting with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Cairo in January. (Egyptian Presidency)
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What Are the Implications of the Visit by 4 Arab Leaders to China?

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during a meeting with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Cairo in January. (Egyptian Presidency)
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during a meeting with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Cairo in January. (Egyptian Presidency)

The leaders of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Tunisia are conducting a visit to China this week to attend the China-Arab Cooperation Forum, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing announced on Monday.

From Tuesday to Saturday, the presidents will “pay state visits to China and attend the opening ceremony of the 10th Ministerial Conference of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum,” Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement.

In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, diplomats and experts in Chinese affairs said the participation of Arab heads of state was aimed at conveying a message about efforts to strengthen relations with China, which in return is seeking to engage more in political affairs related to the Middle East.

According to the Chinese statement, the Arab delegation includes Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Tunisian President Kais Saied and UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

During a press conference, Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Deng Li said China’s President Xi Jinping will attend the Forum and deliver a speech on Thursday, adding that he will hold separate talks with the four Arab leaders to discuss bilateral relations and exchange views on regional and international issues of common interest.

Former Egyptian Assistant Foreign Minister Ambassador Ezzat Saad told Asharq Al-Awsat that Chinese-Arab relations have witnessed a boom in recent years, specifically since Xi came to power in 2013.

“There are about 12 Arab countries that currently maintain comprehensive strategic partnership relations with China,” he said, noting that Chinese investments in Arab countries almost reached $250 billion dollars, while the volume of Chinese trade with Arab countries is close to half a trillion dollars.

He interpreted the high-level Arab participation as “a message to the West, reflecting the development of Arab relations with eastern powers, such as China and Russia, in light of those countries’ respect for the United Nations Charter and the rights of peoples to self-determination and non-interference in the affairs of others, in contrast to existing Western double-standard policy.”

Asian affairs expert at the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs Diaa Helmy said China is interested in the region, demonstrated in its involvement in political issues and its effort to create “global balances”, in wake of the war on Gaza and the possibility of its spillover into the region and impacting international trade.

China is interested in joining the mediation efforts and help in taking just and urgent decisions to preserve peace and security in the Middle East, he added, noting China’s balanced position towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and its support of legitimate Arab rights.