Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has issued a decree seeking to bring mostly Iran-backed militias under the command of the armed forces.
The mostly Shiite militias fall under an umbrella grouping known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), powerful paramilitary and political forces that fought against the “Islamic State” alongside the US-backed Iraqi army.
In all there are about 140,000 battle-hardened armed men in militias in Iraq.
The PMF already report to the prime minister, who is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, but their leadership has close ties to Iran.
Abdul Mahdi’s decree, issued late Monday, if implemented, would force all PMF militias into the armed forces, abandoning their names and requiring their leaders to choose between paramilitary or political activity.
Militia headquarters, economic offices and checkpoints are to be closed and those who choose politics would be prevented from carrying weapons, the decree said. Any armed faction working “openly or secretly” against the new rules would be considered illegitimate.
The move comes amid rising US-Iran tensions in the region and worries that Iraq could become a proxy battleground following a series of unclaimed attacks near US forces or their interests in Iraq in recent weeks.
The United States has urged Iraq to rein in the militias and warned that it would respond with force if US interests were attacked. It also comes after the Wall Street Journal reported that US officials have concluded that a drone attack on a Saudi oil pipeline in May originated from Iraq, not Yemen. Abdul Mahdi denied his country was used to stage any attacks.
The United States has urged Iraq to reign in the militias and warned that it would respond with force if US interests were attacked.
Source » dw