Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) A newly-approved law legalizing the status of volunteer, Shia-led forces fighting the Islamic State will also benefit similar Sunni militias, an Iraqi parliamentarian said as the law triggered a new political crisis.
Haider al-Mawla, from the State of Law bloc, said Monday in statements that the law passed by the parliament on Saturday, will also benefit 36 Sunni fighting groups, arguing that those groups had been denied their rights over the past period.
The parliament voted on Saturday in favor of the highly-divisive law that granted al-Hashd al-Shaabi militias legalized as a national armed force.
The passing of the long-debated bill came amid intense objections from Sunni groups within the parliament who feared the law would grant the Iran-backed, Shia militia unchecked powers, and therefore stoke sectarian tensions.
Al-Hashd al-Shaabi was formed by a decree from Iraq’s top Shia clergy to combat the Islamic State militants who took over many regions of Iraq in 2014. The militia is currently engaged in fighting against ISIS on the side of the Iraqi government forces, and its involvement in the liberation of areas inhabited by Sunnis has aroused international and local fears of sectarian twists.
The law counts al-Hashd al-Shaabi as part of the national armed forces and subject to its supreme commander. Its text says personnel affiliated with the force should be disconnected with any other political, social or partisan affiliations. It gives an exclusive mandate to the supreme commander of the armed forces to decide on the distribution and deployment of the force among provinces.
“The law ensures the full rights of all al-Hashd al-Shaabi volunteers and everyone who had carried a weapon in face of ISIS terrorists,” said al-Mawla, adding that 36 Sunni mobilization groups in Anbar, Salahuddin, Nineveh, Diyala and other areas will benefit from it.