Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s decree for the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) to integrate into the military continued to reverberate within the forces and beyond. Debates have raged over the extent to which the PMF will comply with Abdul Mahdi’s order and the reason that prompted him to issue it in the first place and whether it was related to recent tensions between
On July 1, Abdul Mahdi ordered the integration of the PMF into the military, stressing the need to end all armed presence outside the authority of the state. Groups have until July 31 to comply.
Sadrist movement leader cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, founder of the al-Salam brigades in June 2014, was the first to welcome and comply with the premier’s call. He announced his disassociation from the brigades and ordered them to close their headquarters. Qais al-Khazali, leader of the Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, and Hadi al-Ameri, head of the Badr organization, and the majority of Sunni and Shiite political blocs also voiced their support for Abdul Mahdi’s call.
Salam brigades spokesman Safaa al-Tamimi confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the unit had shut its centers throughout Iraq as soon as the PM issued his decree.
This includes its main headquarters in Baghdad and al-Nasseriya, he revealed.
The brigades believes that the premier’s order will strengthen the state and limit the possession of arms in its hands, which is why it complied with it, he stressed.
The al-Nujabaa movement, which is known for its strong ties to Iran, said that the PM’s decree addressed forces that joined the PMF.
“Our forces only have the 12th Brigade that operates under the PMF,” said Nujabaa politburo member Firas al-Yasser.
He added that the movement boasts two armed branches in Syria and Iraq. The Syrian wing was brought in at the request of the Damascus government and the other is active in Iraq with the acknowledgment of the government.
The pro-Iran Hezbollah Brigades did not issue a clear stance in accepting or rejecting Abdul Mahdi’s decree, but called on the government to crack down on so-called “spy networks affiliated with the embassies, starting with the American embassy in Baghdad.”
It made its statement in reference to the Kurdish Peshmerga forces that were not included in the government decree and which it said are backed by foreign parties and countries.
Meanwhile, a prominent leader in one of the PMF factions said that all of the forces that are represented in the PMF will commit to the government decree, including those that are loyal to Iran, “because they can circumvent it”.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said that the PMF was divided between factions that are committed to government orders and others that adhere to Iran.
He added that the Iranians are explicit in ordering their followers to respect Iraqi government instructions, “but it is unclear if these instructions will still stand if an armed conflict were to erupt between Washington and Tehran.”
Abdul Mahdi issued his decree over the deep mistrust between the PMF and its factions and between it and the state, he explained.
“We know that some factions are allied to Iran and the government fears that this allegiance will cause it problems with the United States,” he added.