Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) named Abdulaziz al-Mohammedawi as its new deputy commander following the assassination of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis alongside the head of Iran’s al-Quds Force, Major General Qassem Soleimani, in a US drone strike in Baghdad in January.
PMF official Abu Ali al-Basri announced on Friday the appointment of Mohammedawi, aka 'Abu Fadak' and 'the Uncle', who was a top commander of Iraq’s Hezbollah Brigades.
He worked with Soleimani while he was organizationally linked with al-Badr Organization in the 1980s. He was an aide to al-Badr head Hadi Amiri and was assigned to intelligence tasks.
Al-Basri said the commander of the Iraqi armed forces will sign Mohammedawi’s appointment decree in the coming days.
The appointment comes after weeks of intense negotiations among PMF officials on who will succeed Muhandis, who was the group’s deputy commander.
The PMF is headed by the National Security Adviser, Faleh al-Fayyadh. However, after restructuring the group’s leadership, the position of the deputy chief was canceled, and replaced by the chief of staff, which will be occupied by Mohammedawi.
Al-Arabiya channel quoted sources as saying that ‘the Uncle’ was working as an intelligence member for Badr Organization in the Kurdistan region, but he refused to give up arms after the toppling of the Baathist regime, and formed a combat group which received its salaries and support directly from Amiri.
Mohammedawi was closely connected to Iran through his formation of the Hezbollah Brigades, according to sources.
However, other sources noted that he was merely a top official in the Brigades, but after differences on the release of Qatari fishermen detained in Iraq by Hezbollah in return for ransom, ‘the Uncle’ resigned, only to join the Brigades under direct orders from Soleimani after the eruption of anti-government protests in October.
The sources pointed out that the word ‘the Uncle’ was sprayed on the wall of the US embassy in Baghdad during protests by PMF supporters. They also revealed that his assignment is seen as a provocation to the Sadrist movement.