US said gaining ground in efforts to scale back role of Shia militias in Iraq
Translated today by our Mideastwire.com:
On February 19, the mouthpiece of the Future Movement, Al-Mustaqbal newspaper, carried the following report by its correspondent in Baghdad Ali al-Baghdadi: “The American pressures have managed to contain the role of the Popular Mobilization militias, which were excluded from the military campaign to seize Ramadi, the center of Al-Anbar governorate, from ISIL. This happened after armed Shi’i factions supported by Iran infiltrated and started to affect Iraqi reality, thus generating fears surrounding Haider al-Abadi’s government’s loss of its control over the country… Knowledgeable political sources told Al-Mustaqbal at this level: “The American pressures somewhat managed to contain the role of Popular Mobilization on the Iraqi scene, by limiting the reliance on it in the ongoing battles against ISIL organization in more than one Iraqi region.”
“The sources continued: “The repeated visits and talks between US military commanders and Iraqi officials in Baghdad, along with the contacts between the politicians amid mounting international disgruntlement towards the role played by Popular Mobilization that was accused of committing massacres in the Sunni areas, pushed the Iraqi government to introduce a series of reforms to the Popular Mobilization formations, reaching the point of letting go around 30,000 of its elements due to the government’s inability to pay their salaries…” The sources added: “The Iraqi government has created a force of reservists, which includes relieved Popular Mobilization elements and trainers, to resort to them in case of emergency.”
“They stressed: “The American pressures also managed to alleviate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis’ grip over the Popular Mobilization militias… Al-Muhandis, who is considered the right hand of Commander of the Quds Force in the Revolutionary Guard General Qasem Soleimani, has consequently started losing his grip over Popular Mobilization, particularly its Shi’i factions and the Al-Abbas fighting force, which is affiliated with Sayyed Ali al-Sistani. He was also stripped of many prerogatives, in light of strong American pressures exerted on Al-Abadi’s government.” The sources revealed that the US was pressuring the Iraqi government into gradually limiting Al-Muhandis’ influence, in preparation for his final ousting, especially since Washington accuses him of being involved in terrorism.
“They continued: “The Iraqi prime minister therefore decided to give retired General Mohsen al-Kaabi, who had been appointed alongside Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis as the deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Committee, much greater prerogatives…” But the sources thus assured: “Disputes are starting to erupt between the Shi’i factions within the Popular Mobilization forces, against the backdrop of the attempts to contain Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis’ role and the future inclination to remove him from his post. This could lead to the detonation of the situation, especially since many armed factions are loyal to Al-Muhandis, but not to Al-Abadi, whom they perceive as the ally and implementer of America’s policies in Iraq.””