Iraqi Shi'a militia Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) reiterates its allegiance to the Supreme Leader; Oil Ministry signs memorandum of cooperation with Russian natural gas company AAH's emphasis on its commitment to the doctrine of velayat-e faqih, which supports the Supreme Leader's all-encompassing temporal authority, and on the historical ties between AAH's predecessors and first Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, show the militia's increased interest in developing its political and ideological ties to Iran. AAH Representative to Iran Hojjat al-Eslam Jabar Rajabi also stated that "no distinction has been made between AAH, Kata'ib Hezbollah, Hamas, Lebanese Hezbollah, and other groups [by Iran]," echoing Iran's self-projection as the regional leader of resistance. IRGC Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naghdi announced that Iran has been training Iraqi "Basijis," or paramilitary volunteers, and that there is no need for a direct Iranian military presence in Iraq. This reaffirms Iran's ongoing role in training "popular resistance" forces similar to its own Basij force. The Oil Ministry's signing of a recent joint memorandum of cooperation with Russian Gazprom company underscore recent efforts between Tehran and Moscow to strengthen economic ties in order to hedge against Western sanctions.