Baghadad (IraqiNews.com) Iraq is under pressure from the United States and Iran involving conflicting calls regarding the retention of Shia-led forces that played a major role in the fight against Islamic State militants.
Iraqi Alghad Press said the United States is demanding Iraqi premier Adel Abdul Mahdi to disband the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), aka al-Hashd al-Shaabi, while Iran is warning against attempts to weaken the force.
It said that while Iranian Foreign Minister,, Javad Zarif, who was on a visit to Baghdad on Monday, carried an unpublicized message to the government “warning against attempts to weaken the PMF”, Abdul-Mahdi, according to Saudi-owned al-Arabiya, asked the U.S. side “to give him sometime” to respond to its renewed call to freeze and disarm the force.
Alghad Press pointed to what it described as “a regional lobby, backed by Iraqi figures working on weakening the force as a premise to its dissolution”.
The PMF, composed of some 60 forces, mostly Shia, was formed as per a call from the Iraqi top Shia clergy to fight Islamic State Sunni extremists. Many of the troops working under the PMF pledge strong allegiance to Iran and are believed to have enjoyed generous finances and training from the Islamic republic. The force won official Iraqi government recognition as a national force late 2016. Several of its current and former leaders are now members of the Iraqi parliament elected in May.