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Sep-25-2015 21:39printcomments

Iraq's Public Mobilization Forces Under Fire, Legal Squeezes

Tough times for Iraq's military program that is highly reminiscent of the US National Guard.

Iraq flag
Iraq flag/map image: wtkr.com

(BAGHDAD) - Following the abduction of 18 Turkish workers in Baghdad’s Sadr District on 02 September, and the Iraqi army‘s 52th brigade attack on Iraq’s Hezbollah Brigade headquarters in Baghdad, Ahmad al-Assadi, the Iraqi Public Mobilization Forces’ (PMF) spokesman, has noted that the attack on the headquarters was carried out without coordinating the Public Mobilization Forces or other responsible authorities.

This incident comes as a result of a disharmony that he hopes will not to be repeated, Assadi added.

The spokesman said, sarcastically, that Friday night’s incident was a task between the security forces and the Public Mobilization Forces that as usual was performed without any coordination.

However, conflict has not ended at this point, as Salim al-Jabouri, the speaker of Iraq’s parliament and head of largest Iraqi Sunni parliamentary coalition, suddenly, announced that the National Guard Law will be set for vote on 08 September.

The National Guard Law was considered for debate in the Iraqi parliament while the Shiite National coalition had already agreed on conditions of draft of the law that would challenge and undermine the historical potential of the Shiite forces in Iraq.

Charges grow, Public Mobilization Forces ordered out of Baghdad’s second line of defense

Following the consideration of the abrupt vote plan on the National Guard Law, the Iraqi defense ministry’s intelligence office claimed that the Iraq’s Hezbollah Brigades were accountable for the abduction of the 18 Turkish workers.

The intelligence office also accused the brigades of abducting the Iraqi clerics as well as intellectuals, adding that in addition to finding the abducted, it would attempt to disarm those who exploit their arms for matters other than the operations defined by the Iraqi defense ministry.

At the same time, Mohamad al-Hattab, member of security committee of Baghdad’s provincial council, noted that in some areas in Baghdad where Public Mobilization Forces’s offices are located, high rates of violence and extortion are seen. T

herefore, the Baghdad operations command is considering measures to provide security in the capital. Meanwhile, Sheikh Abdel Wahab al-Samaraee, the Iraq’s Council of Scholars’ spokesman, has called for an "iron fist" in a confrontation with paramilitary forces that kill people, abduct them and plunder their possessions.

He claimed that the process started by those who carry weapons out of the defined and determined frameworks would not be limited to the killing of clerics, preachers, doctors and the academics.

The events did not end in remarks by a set of Iraqi politicians and other influential figures, as this time the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the country's Commander-in-Chief, entered the dispute, ordering the Public Mobilization Forces withdrawal from Baghdad’s second line of defense.

The Prime Minister has tasked the police and counter-terrorism authorities and Kurdistan Region's forces with securing parts of the second line of defense, as he assigned 8th armored brigade as well as 6th and 17th divisions of the Iraqi army to protect other parts of the second line of defense.

These Army units are responsible for maintenance of Baghdad’s first line of defense.

Some of the Public Mobilization Forces were accommodated in customs office, old cars garage, dairy products company storehouse and former army bases in Abu Ghraib, Yusufyia, and Al-Ataremia, Al-Rezwanya neighborhoods in Baghdad’s west, north and south. They brace for the PM’s any possible order to be deployed to the frontlines.

Retaliatory Reactions

Two days after 2nd-5th September disputes, attacks on the Public Mobilization Forces resumed, both legally and verbally. However, the pro-Popular Forces members in the parliament responded to verbal attacks on PMF.

The Badr Organization parliamentary block, a Shiite organization headed by Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, on 07 September in the parliament’s session, argued that the National Guard Law is an American plan designed on US’s ambassador to Iraq Stuart E. Jones’ advice, intending to pave the way for partitioning Iraq.

The objection of Badr Organization is against a part of the National Guard Law which proposes formation of independent forces for every province operating under the command of the provincial council, an issue helping push the province towards a federal organization.

While a majority of the opponents of the proposed law emphasized that enactment of the National Guard law would likely put the country at the risk of partitioning, Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, a Shiite parliamentary group, essentially opposed the law saying it is a plot against the Public Mobilization Forces.

Following the events the head of Baghdad operational command, Lieutenant General Abdul Amir al-Shammari, once again resurfaced on 08 September the Sadr District’s case of kidnapping 18 Turkish workers, directing the charges against the infiltrators in the Public Mobilization Forces, adding that after storming the popular forces' headquarters a huge amount of arms were discovered, which are desperately needed in the frontlines.

He sarcastically noted that those who have a hand in arms trafficking could also engage in abduction. Responding to the charges, Hezbollah Brigades have aired video depicting confessions of an ISIS commander captured by the Shiite force, acknowledging that there is a secret cooperation between the army and the terrorist group setting up for penetrating into the capital Baghdad.

As the quarrels set to continue, on 08 September, a collection of Shiite resistant groups including Iraq’s Hezbollah Brigades, Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, Imam Ali Brigades, Nojaba' Movement, Salah al-Din Brigades, Jund al-Imam, Babylon Brigades, Ansar AL-Awfia Movement and Sayyid al-Shuhada Movement issued a statement in a press conference read by Abu Talib al-Saeedi the spokesman for Hezbollah Brigades, explicitly rejecting the controversial National Guard Law.

In a retaliatory action, the “powerful coalition”, including Sunni parties, has held the Prime Minister and the security authorities are responsible for disorder across the country which spurs the paramilitary forces to “commit crimes”.

The coalition’s spokesman Ahmed al-Massari has connected the acts of abduction, attacking the clerics and intellectuals of the intensified anti-corruption protests in the recent weeks, adding that these crimes are committed by the paramilitary forces, in a reference to Public Mobilization Forces, moving freely in the city streets, “in their SUVs”.

Meanwhile, the National Iraqi Alliance, an Iraqi electoral coalition mainly composed of Shiite parties, organized a press conference in which Hasan Salem, the coalition's representative, noted that passing the National Guard Law in its current form is actually plotting against PMF taking who are fighting against ISIS, saying that this law is a supplement for the decisions made in Doha’s Iraq conference held on 07 September and attended by members of Iraq’s dissolved Ba'ath party, a ruling party during the time of Saddam Hussein, as well as some former officials wanted on terror charges.

The former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki also got into the controversy. In a press conference, highlighting negative sentiments against Doha conference and the drawbacks clearly visible in the National Guard Law, Maleki has said that he doubted that the law would be enacted.

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