Iraq hits the Iranian influence: Abadi heading toward dismantling Hashd al-Sha’bi, aligning himself with the will of the Marjaiy’a and the U.S.A
Elijah J. Magnier:
A senior Iraqi official told “Al Rai” that “The Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is proceeding with his reform’s policy and intends to take further subsequent measures. Abadi is pushing for the formation of the National Guard, disregarding the PMU (Popular Mobilisation Units) and Iran’s who rather avoid promoting it and stop Abadi from presenting it to the Parliament. Such a step intends to prepare the future dissolution the PMU and, in consequences, to consider any rejectionist group as outlaw. It would also give the Prime Minister a full control over all the security and armed forces he is lacking at the moment. Such a step is also aiming to reduce any influence of Iran within the security institution and mainly among the PMU”.
According to the ministerial source, “the prime minister enjoys the support of the Marjaiya (religious authority) in Najaf, which would like to see a strong army and security forces, all under the control of Baghdad only that holds the decision on the ground and reduce the influence of the militia. Al-Abadi enjoys also the support of the U.S.A that is, not only encouraging him in his decisions, but also putting pressure on the Sunni and the Kurds MPs block to support the National Guard formation, back Abadi in his footsteps reform and the reduction of the expansion of Iranian influence across the PMU militias”.
The Prime Minister banned the Hashd al-Sha’bi forces from entering Anbar and Mosul to fight the “Islamic state” (ISIS) group and entrusted the battle to the army, the Federal Police and the Counter Terrorism units, backed by the U.S.A coalition, in agreement with the Americans based in Baghdad.
The source added: “However, the current Iraqi government is aware that eradicating ISIS is a difficult objective without the U.S help and full support. But Abadi has decided to drop the offer of help from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard – Quds Brigade General Qassem Soleimani, in charge of the coordination between Iran and Iraq on the military level and the War on ISIS only. The Iranian General failed to deal with Abadi since his is in office and the tension between the two men increased since. The Prime Ministre is not the only one who likes to see Soleimani out of Iraq and away from controlling militias in the country. The Marjaiya in Najaf support Abadi in his decision that also fits perfectly well with the American desire to see Iran far from controlling Iraq”.
“It is a question of settling the accounts between the two men and to reduce the Iranian influence in Iraq without necessarily create a sense of hostility between the two countries (Iran and Iraq) “, said the source.
According to the source, “the basic problem today is between the various Shiite parties and within the same Shia house. There are Shi’ite parties with strong influence within the Parliament see it in their interest to line up with the Prime Minister and to see the Iranian influence reduced within the institutions. For example, take the same “Da’wa” party, which is no longer fully loyal to the former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, but many support al-Abadi. The “Supreme Council” (Majlis al A’la) headed by Mr. Ammar al-Hakim interest in supporting al-Abadi after seeing “Badr” movement drifting away from his control. The Sadr movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr shares the same objectives of al-Hakim, contrary to rumors. Many ex-Sadrists went to Iran to create their own organisations, creating serious “disturb” in the Sadrist house. This also confirms that the Iranian policy in Iraq was not that successful since al-Abbadi took the power. The Prime Ministre believed, until very recent, that Tehran intends to remove him and encourage other candidates to become PM. ”
On the other hand, Iraq is observing difficult economic situation, where salaries are not fully paid to the security forces, due to the low price of oil, the main government resource in its budget, and also because of the warfare expenses emanating from ISIS occupation of large areas and cities of Iraq.
PMU commander confirmed to me that “PM Abadi did indeed give the order to halt any advance of the PMU into Anbar, allowing the regular forces to do the job”. He believed that the main reason is to ”prevent any victory in Anbar that could be attributed to Iran, through the militia”. We were asked to consolidate the front in Baiji and Anbar, keep ISIS engaged statically without necessarily attacking. We can only follow the orders of the Prime Minister, right or wrong, and we don’t support the formation of a National Guard that would lead the country into a partition”.
The source explained, “The Shiite and Kurdish regions are considered out of ISIS danger and no longer threatened. ISIS is operating mainly within the Sunni areas in Anbar and Nineneh where there are around 3 million inhabitants, which is not the case in Syria where Salafists Jihadists live in a relatively friendly society and an area of over 10 Million inhabitants. The problem of ISIS is no longer ours, directly. If the world is ready to eliminate ISIS, we can take part of it. Otherwise, let ISIS stay where it is”.