Iraqi PM clamps down on militia

Published in GSN, 4 July 2019

Prime Minister Adil Abdel-Mahdi on 1 July moved to assert his authority over the country’s many semi-autonomous militias, known as the Hashd Al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Units or PMUs), issuing executiveorder no.37 stating that they be integrated into the national armed forces by the end of the month, continuing a process begun by his predecessor Haider Al-Abadi.

It follows a series of attacks by militia groups on international targets in recent weeks and allegations from the United States that a recent attack on a Saudi oil pipeline was launched from Iraqi territory rather than from Yemen. Baghdad has voiced scepticism about the US claim.

Imposing federal authority on the Hashd Al-Shaabi is a core issue for Iraq’s long-term stability. It goes to the heart of Baghdad’s efforts to avoid being dragged into wider regional disputes – not least the conflict between the US and Iran, which has close links to many of the militia.

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