Newspaper: Abadi to amend mobilization forces statute to counter mutiny

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, during his visit to the Joint Special Operations Command headquarters

Baghdad ( Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi might induce changes to the law regulating the activity of pro-government paramilitary forces in order to confront unruly divisions, an independent Iraqi newspaper said.

AlMada newspaper said Abadi intends to restructure the Popular Mobilization Forces and amend the law regulating its operations in order to “end the mutiny of some of its factions,” as the newspaper put it.

“The most outstanding points of disagreement between Abadi and the mobilization are related to commands issued regarding the structure of the forces and legalizing its numbers (of troops) for the post-Islamic State phase”, said the newspaper, pointing to “tremendous disputes between Abadi and the Popular Mobilization regarding the body authorized to give directives to enforce its law”.

According to the paper, the prime minister insists to have exclusive authority to write down directives without engaging mobilization commanders.

Popular Mobilization Forces were formed as per a decree by Iraq’s top Shia clergy in 2014 to counter Sunni Islamic State extremists. The troops gained recognition as a national armed force through a parliament vote and a later presidential approval late 2016.

PMFs have been actively engaged in the eight-month war against the Islamic State across Iraqi provinces partially held by the group. Abadi has regularly and vehemently defended the force against accusations of human rights violations made by international rights groups and United Nations agencies.

Over the past few months, news reports talked of some PMF groups crossing the borders into Syria to back President Bashar al-Assad’s troops against Islamic State fighters. Abadi has reiterated that crossing the border would violate the Iraqi constitution, and stressed that such a move should be officially coordinated with the Syrian government.

In his weekly briefing last Tuesday, Abadi denied any disputes with the mobilization command, deeming reports about an intention to disband the forces “lies”.

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