In one particularly scathing critique, the chair of Nujaba's political council, Ali al-Asadi, implied that the government ban happened as a result of U.S. pressure.
He tweeted: “The invitation of the Iraqi military leaders to the Pentagon...under the auspices of the High Commissioner, Aunt Alina Romanowski, at a time when Telegram has been banned is a cause for suspicion and a step for handcuffing Iraq that is intended to continue the brunt of the occupation...Let the conspirators know that the free are aware of what is going on behind the closed doors. There will be a stance that shakes the ground under the feet of the traitors. The brave have the final say, and the endings they want will inevitably be achieved” (Figure 1).
Although various other muqawama channels cited U.S. pressure on the government as a factor, no official militia figure adopted Nujaba's narrative. Rather, Asadi’s critique echoed the narrative of Nujaba-affiliated facade group Ashab al-Kahf (AK), which in recent months has increased its threats against U.S. targets and organized a protest against the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. AK’s main Telegram channel and sister channels had been criticizing Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani for his perceived inaction on "expelling the occupying forces" from Iraq. In return, the government apparently convinced Telegram to shut down AK’s main channel, possibly while trying to submerge this targeted action within the broader (perhaps temporary) blocking of Telegram as a whole.
Asaib Ahl al-Haq
AAH's leadership also criticized the move, albeit with less strong language. Sanad al-Hamdani, a high-ranking member and head of the group's media operations, tweeted, "The restriction on Telegram is wrong and needs to be revised. Telegram is the platform of supporters of the CF, the muqawama, and Sudani, because Facebook is blocking them” (Figure 2). AAH military spokesman Jawad al-Talibawi expressed his shock as well, describing the measure as “incomprehensible.”
The same day the Telegram ban was announced, Saud al-Saedi, the head of KH’s Hoquq parliamentary bloc, addressed the minister of communications with four "parliamentary questions" about the decision. Question number 2 read, “What are the reasons behind shutting down the Telegram application, despite the great role that this platform plays in the field of media and the dissemination of targeted content?” (Figure 3).
A few days later, however, self-described KH security chief Abu Ali al-Askari urged media platforms and activists to “deal rationally with the government’s decision to block Telegram and beware of falling into the traps of enemies” (Figure 4). His remarks implied that negotiations are underway to find a compromise on the issue.
Moayad is a relative of Ammar al-Hakim, the leader of the Hikma movement and a member of the CF. When Hakim chose not to comment on the Telegram ban, he was criticized by Sabereen and other muqawama channels (Figure 5).