Alwaght- The leader of the Sadr Movement and Saeroon Coalition of Iraqi Parliament Muqtada al-Sadr on Friday proposed formation of a security, parliamentary, and military committee to investigate recent attacks on diplomatic sites as well as public institutions and organizations. Al-Sadr believes that such attacks will damage the Iraqi image and credibility on the international stage.
The proposal immediately drew PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi welcome. In support of the suggestion, al-Kadhimi in a Twitter message said, “The law is above all, including the outlaws, even if some do not believe in this.” The coalition of corruption and illegal arms has no place in Iraq.
Although the messages sent out by al-Sadr and al-Kadhimi have never been openly directed to the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) or any other political party in Iraq, over the past few days there has been a media propaganda wave accusing the PMF of targeting diplomatic missions. Meanwhile, the interesting point is that the American media after an attack on the US embassy tried to generalize it as an attack on all of the foreign embassies and consulates.
One of the key strategic principles of the US in the post-ISIS Iraq has been the creation of division between government and the PMF in a bid to undermine the voluntary organization, which was formed in opposition to the ISIS terrorist group in 2014. The biggest benefiter of the suspected attacks and assassinations which have always been rejected by the PMF is the American side.
Preparing the ground for weakening PMF position among public
The enmity and official media war against the PMF, also locally called Hashd al-Shaabi, is not limited to a single crisis or a set of developments. Since the foundation of the PMF that followed a fatwa by Ayatollah Sayyed Ali al-Sistani when ISIS fast seized large parts of Iraq starting with Mosul, US media and some aligned Arab media, which failed in their project to split the whole region including Iraq and Syria, launched fierce hostility against the organization. The more the PMF advanced in its campaign against the terrorist group and the self-proclaimed caliphate of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the heavier were the media and political attacks on the organization.
Both at home and foreign levels there were constant, sophisticated, and multi-faceted pressures on the Hashd forces. Some periods even observed plots to provoke public opinion and political parties in favor of the dissolution of the largely efficient force. For example, when popular protests broke out in November 2019 in the country, there appeared efforts sophisticatedly seeking to blame the repressive attacks on the demonstrators on the Hashd members. Even sometimes mercenaries were hired to attack PMF’s headquarters and bases in various cities.
The present time seems to bear the same scenario against the PMF as the US along with some puppet forces inside Iraq is seeking to paint Hashd the culprit behind the attacks on the foreign diplomatic missions and thus damaging the Iraqi international image. The American efforts come as Fatah Alliance as the official representative of the PMF in the parliament on September 24 announced commitment to the constitution and opposition to any raids on the state institutions and diplomatic representation offices. The Fatah statement shows that possibly the PMF had intelligence about a planned effort to link it to a series of attacks on embassies.
All in all, the central aim behind these pressures is to undermine the strong Hashd position and thus pave the way for its dissolution, though such conspiracies are far from bearing fruits as people cherish the position of the PMF in the national defense.
Fueling division between the government and PMF
Another goal behind linking the Hashd to the recent attacks on foreign diplomatic missions as a factor harming Iraq’s international image is to fuel division between the force and government. This effort was started when Haider al-Abadi and then Adel Abdul Mahdi were PMs. Now it is intensified several folds. To be precise, the Americans are striving to persuade al-Kadhimi to grow antipathetic to the PMF, something pouring fuel on the fire of a face-off between the government and the popular organization.
The parliament in Iraq recognizes the Hashd forces as an official force and part of the national armed forces. However, seemingly there are hands aimed at highlighting the PMF as a rival to the government and an interrupter of the al-Kadhimi’s home and foreign strategy. In other words, there is an effort eying to put the PMF in a camp opposite to al-Kadhimi, a scheme helping create gaps and crises among the political parties. The interesting point is that the Americans do their best to paint the attack on their embassy an attack on all foreign embassies and thus conceal the reality that it is them that are the target of the Iraqi political parties’ aversion and fury.