Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani Friday called for maintaining the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) as he stressed that all weapons should be brought under the control of the Iraqi government.
Some assumptions that Sistani might abort the jihad fatwa surfaced, one week after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over ISIS. Yet, the former affirmed during Friday’s sermon that the threats jeopardizing Iraq demand maintaining a military effort equal to efforts of the Iraqi armed forces.
Abadi commented that the government has already commenced bringing weapons under state control. He welcomed Sistani’s call to not exploit what was done by the fighters for political or party purposes – in an approach to distant security institutions from the political work.
Haidar al-Ghourabi from the Hawza stated to Asharq Al-Awsat that “the religious reference urged the activation of the popular mobilization law to recognize a security force that falls under the ministries of defense and interior. Those enrolled would receive salaries and allocations from the state, which means that their tasks should be limited to the state and not to any political faction.”
Whether Sistani's call implied canceling his fatwa on jihad, Ghourabi said that these are two separate topics because when Sistani issued this fatwa it entailed a call for volunteering at the state security institutions.
Naeem al-Aboudi, spokesman for the Asaib Ahl al-Haq, added that if Sistani had wished to cancel the jihad fatwa then he would have stated that directly and clearly, that which didn't happen during Friday’s sermon.
He underscored that the “fatwa is practically still ongoing.”
“As for the PMF, even if Sistani said that the fatwa is over and volunteers should return home, this doesn’t dissociate the Popular Mobilization Forces because they are now a governmental institution,” Aboudi added.