Analysis - Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces military parade: What were messages?

Analysis - Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces military parade: What were messages?

Marking the seventh anniversary of their foundation, the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) held a military parade for the first time on June 26. The parade was covered massively by regional and international media, with many of them suggesting that it marked the PMF entry to a new era of its life.

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): Marking the seventh anniversary of their foundation, the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) held a military parade for the first time on June 26. The parade was covered massively by regional and international media, with many of them suggesting that it marked the PMF entry to a new era of its life. 

The ant-terror movement's parade was held at a camp in Diyala that was once called Camp Ashraf and hosted anti-Iranian terrorist organization, Mujahideen Khalgh Organization (MKO) harbored by dictator Saddam Hussein. The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, Defense Minister Juma Anad, Interior Minister Othman al-Ghanemi, National Security Advisor Qassem al-A'araji, the Chief of General Staff Abdelamir Yarullah, and a number other senior army commanders. 

As mentioned, this parade enjoyed a very wide coverage from media and political observers. But the question is about the political, security, and symbolic messages that this event sent. 

The interesting point is that the military procession of the PMF was held at a time when this force has been widely attacked by the enemies of the Axis of Resistance especially the US and some Arab countries in recent years. But the PMF's demonstration of force showed that the enemies plots have gone nowhere and the voluntary units have emerged even stronger than before and continue their march towards their ideals. 

PMF established in Iraq's security and political stability 

The massive parade marks the establishment of this popular force in the country’s power structure. Following ISIS attack on Mosul, the grand Shiite Cleric Ayatollah Sayyed Ali al-Sistani issued a fatwa for taking up arms against terrorism on June 13, 2014, at which point Iraqi Shiites mobilized in various units within the PMF. The popular forces' entry to the anti-ISIS war of was game-changing to the battlegrounds. 

Over 40 units constituted the PMF, with their role undeniable in obliteration of ISIS on the ground. It has around 120,000 fighters and the PM is its top commander-in-chief. Faleh Al-Fayyad is its commander and Sadegh al-Saadawi is its chief of general staff. Hadi al-Amiri is the deputy and field commander of the popular forces. The Fatah coalition represents the PMF in the Iraqi parliament. Currently, the force focuses on expulsion of illegitimate American troops from Iraq, as this agenda has legal backing provided by the parliament's bill for the government to expel the foreign forces. Amid the home and foreign conspiracies against the PMF, the military parade has much to tell and vindicates establishment in the country’s security structure. 

Legal and political establishment 

It should be taken into account that since its foundation, the PMF faced internal and external opposition. The opponents call for disbanding of these forces and prevention of their activities. They argue that the PMF are parallel to the regular army. The opponents are extremely afraid of the PMF closeness to Iran, a country that provided unwavering support to the anti-terror operations. A Sunni political community, led by the former parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, is the main opponent of the PMF existence. Another opponent is the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) led by Masoud Barzani. 

In a wider range, part of secular politicians, from both Shiites and Sunnis, are opposed to these forces. Outside the country, the US is the top actor calling for their disbanding. Saudi Arabia, the Israeli regime, the UAE, and the European countries also take hostile stances against the groups. All this opposition comes while the PMF was recognized as part of Iraqi armed forces in November 2016. In March 2018, the ten PM Haider al-Abadi ordered their merger into the armed forces. The recent parade shattered the speculations about their disbandment. The presence of political and military leaders bore witness to establishment of the PMF in the nation's political and legal establishment. 

PMF, a trans-religious force in Iraq 

The Parade also demonstrated that the PMF is a trans-religious and trans-sectarian force. The reality is that Iraq has been mired in sectarian tensions since 2003, but the Popular Mobilization Forces showed that it is possible to transcend religious and ethno-sectarian boundaries. In fact, although the Shiites were at the core of the PMF, Sunni Arabs, Kurds, Christians, and Yazidis also joined it, and they are still at the top of decision-making process.



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