With Coalition and Iraqi forces cracking down very successfully in Iraq’s Nineveh Province, specifically Mosul, Al-Qaeda is finding very few places in the country to re-assemble. One of these very few places is Diyala Province. Not so coincidentally, this is the same location where, according to an Arab newspaper article, the Iranians are paying gunmen $2400 per month, mostly individuals who have been involved with the now-disgraced Mehdi Army.
There are no reports I am aware of showing that these Iranian mercenaries are being paid to attack the Al-Qaeda presence in Diyala. Instead, we find Al-Qaeda finding safe harbor in this area that Iran is trying to dominate. The Iranian forces aren’t trying to get rid of them in order to consolidate control. They aren’t necessarily harboring or supporting them either (although it surely is possible if not likely), but it does demonstrate that Iran’s proxies are at least willing to tolerate Al-Qaeda if it helps them pursue their objectives–such as destabilizing Iraq and killing American soldiers there.