Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces, speaks in Baghdad during a conference in April. (Ameer Al Mohammedaw/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Is the PMF Ruling Iraq?

Al-Mada, Iraq, July 3

Two weeks after a mortar attack was launched against the Balad Air Base, which houses both Iraqi and US military personnel, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi ordered the dissolution of the Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and their absorption into the official military sector of Iraq. This decision should not be taken lightheartedly. The threat posed by the PMF, which is trained and funded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, is not limited to targeting the American assets in Iraq. According to several reports, the PMF is also responsible for attacks against Saudi oil pipelines in the center of the country. Those who are familiar with the history of the PMF know that it has done nothing but promote the interests of Qassim Soleimani and the other terrorists of the Iranian Quds Force in Iraq. It did not promote Iraqi interests at any point in time. It is time for us to openly admit that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps makes use of the PMF to strike its opponents within Iraq. It serves as a de facto proxy that can exert the power of the Iranian regime sitting in Tehran. So what does Mahdi’s decision mean? Does this mean the demise of the PMF? Similarly, what is going to be the fate of the tens of thousands of insurgents who are part of these militias? What exactly does it mean to “absorb” them into the official state organs? My fear is that by claiming to integrate these militias into the Iraqi military, Prime Minister Mahdi will simply legitimize these gangs and their crimes. He will turn them from an outlawed militia into an official state organ. We must not deceive ourselves. It is true that Mahdi’s vision is noble: He wants to solve this problem in a civilized manner through diplomacy and legislation. But the reality on the ground reveals that the PMF already occupies the Iraqi state, controls the Iraqi parliament, and takes orders from the Iranian regime. It is up to us to ensure that Iraq doesn’t fall into the hands of the Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist, turning our Baghdad into another Iranian proxy. – Lahi Abd al-Hussein (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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