Alwaght- On Saturday, 11 July 2015, management board of Popular Mobilization Forces of Iraq (also known as al-Hashd al-Shaabi) stated that seizing back Fallujah from ISIS would take time and it would be possible after encircling the town and wresting control over its suburbs. Moein al-Kazemi, one of the commanders serving for Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) said it is an effective strategy to besiege the cities, as it minimizes the damage. He said, town of Fallujah provides a good example of this strategy; the available information shows that as we besieged Fallujah ISIS forces fled for their lives and the town was similar to a ghost town.
While the statements of Moein al-Kazemi could be interpreted as a sign of maturity of al-PMF in battlefields, it appears that there is something which is more important than the current achievements of PMF and that is the position of this outstanding defensive or perhaps offensive structure in the future Iraq. The future of PMF seems to be a phenomenon that will be dependent on the Iraqi National Guard. The weakness and strength of the PMF in the National Guard law reveal the nature of this defensive structure within the national security of Iraq and the medium-term and long-term interests of the Resistance Axis. While there is a growing concern over the future of PMF, on 23 June, 2015, Salim al-Jubouri, the speaker of the Iraqi parliament said that the parliament sessions will be resumed in 1 July, with discussions on important laws, especially the National Guard law. This promise was eventually fulfilled on 3 July, and debates over the law were resumed.
On 9 July, Talal Khudair al-Zubair, head of the Iraqiya Coalition, announced "the National Guard law is now empty of its content, and it is just a list of topics that Sunnis Coalition will not vote for it; because in current conditions, this law would be a great injustice to considerable part of the Iraqi people. This law denied Sunnis their rights, and there is no consensus between the political blocs about the law, and the parliament may not pass it."
The main Sunni coalition forces in Iraqi parliament took this position, while before 5 July, Hakim Zamili, the head of the security committee of the Iraqi parliament said there were some differences between the "Strong Coalition" and "National Coalition" over topics such as the Command of National Guard, the arming approach, the movement of the provincial National Guard between other provinces, as well as the ratio of forces in the regions having different religious sects.
However, regardless of the differences, it seems that the major source of concern over the future of PMF in the National Guard law is the 22-article draft law which the Sunni and Shiite forces have agreed on rather than the current differences! The differences are over what we will discuss in the following lines:
Accordingly, the fifth paragraph of Article 6 of the draft law reads: "the National Guard refers to an organization or Light Infantry units which are arranged within the structure and organization of the armed forces". However, it seems that the most challenging Article mentioned in this draft law, is the Article 9 of the draft which divides serving in the National Guard into two types: permanent and temporary. According to the first paragraph of Article 9, a permanent section is for those in positions of command, administrative posts and situations that require experts and a limited number of fighters.
According to the second paragraph of Article 9, temporary section is a 5-year renewable period for volunteers who, based on paragraph 6 of Article 8, are committed to receive a month of training every year and then they will be discharged. Article 18 of the draft law, one of the adjusted topics in the National Guard law, specifies how to summon the reserve forces. Accordingly, the governor, based on the request of provincial council, asks the commander in chief to summon all or part of the reserve forces of the National Guard, based on the size of the security threats or disasters which are beyond the power of internal security forces or the provincial National Guard. Accordingly, having conducted careful evaluations, the commander in chief decides to provide all or a part of the troops requested, or ask the surrounding provinces to provide him with the troops. He may also reject the request based on his assessment. Accordingly, the first and second paragraphs of Article 19, respectively, explains the qualifications of the current forces of the Iraqi people and PMF for permanent membership in the National Guard. According to the first paragraph of this Article, contracts and funds will be transferred from "integration management of the militias" to "commander of the National Guard", and then if they were qualified enough, they will become permanent section forces or their contracts will be changed to temporary one.
According to article 19, contracts and funds attributed to volunteers of PMF would be transferred to National Guard, and then if they were qualified enough, they will become permanent section forces or their contracts will be changed to temporary ones; however, in different provinces their ratio will depend on other ethnic groups.
Explaining the above mentioned topics about the draft of National Guard law, we aim to show the concerns about the future of PMF in the National Guard law, which are summarized in the following lines:
1 - According to the fifth paragraph of Article 6, PMF will be dissolved in the National Guard, which would be part of the present structure of the Iraqi armed forces, and it is feared that these highly motivated forces will be dissolved in the disorganized Iraqi army which will not be effective enough when they are needed.
2 - According to Article 9, a major part of the troops in PMF, will continue to serve in the temporary section. It seems such a concept first implies the gradual disintegration of the major body of PMF, second, it will dramatically reduce the speed and flexibility of PMF. More importantly, there would be no chance to use the doctrinal capacity of this structure which can nurture in line with the goals of the Resistance Axis and the Islamic Revolution movement.
3 – The potentials predicted in the fifth paragraph of Article 6 for the National Guard and consequently for PMF in the foreseeable future, in maximum will correspond it to Light Infantry units. Such potentials, even in permanent section of PMF forces in the National Guard, would grant it a second class and non-development position in the Iraqi defense system. Besides, when it is under the control of the central government, it is hardly possible to use this structure as a lever for disturbing the balance in favor of the Resistance Axis and such a probability will most likely be close to zero.
Therefore, it appears that to reduce the differences with the Sunnis, the Shiite National Coalition has given its consent to a comprised draft of the National Guard law which contrary to claims made by the Sunni coalition, the law for PMF is the same as a paper void of content, which will challenge the de facto historical capacity of the Shiite forces in Iraq. However, it seems that the Sunnis, by excluding the Shiites from a critical point in the draft law of the National Guard, which could have changed this establishment into a permanent and agile organization collaborating with the Iraqi army, are now bargaining to minimize the ability of this structure in the future, whose major part of troops based on current estimates, will be the Shiite forces.