Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) The incorporation of Iraqi shia militias in the security apparatus is in favor of those services, according to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
Speaking during a security and defense exhibition in Baghdad on Saturday, Abadi was quoted by state TV saying that merging the Popular Mobilization Forces within the army “preserves the identity of the security forces”.
Abadi added that the move comes to make the carrying of weapons exclusive to the state bodies.
Last week, Abadi issued a decree equalizing the PMF payment with that of the official armed forces, also granting its fighters the same privileges of the army personnel. The decree determines a supreme commander and two deputies for the force.
The decision came as PMF leaders mounted pressure on the government to allocate better salaries, decrying insufficient financial provisions in the recently passed country budget.
PMFs were formed from volunteer fighters in response to a call by the country’s top Shia clergy to counter Islamic State extremists who emerged in 2014 to proclaim a self-styled, Sunni “caliphate”.
The force was recognized as a national armed entity late 2016, becoming under the command of the supreme chief of the armed forces: the prime minister.
But Abadi has repeatedly voiced intentions to impose discipline on unruly PMF components and has reiterated the importance of its figures not combining military leadership with parliamentary election ambitions. He, however, defended the force against recurrent accusations of human rights abuses.