Shiite armed groups in Iraq decide to disband

A member of Iraqi security forces carries an Iraqi flag as he celebrates the final victory over the Daesh at Tahrir Square in Baghdad, Iraq on Sunday. (REUTERS)
Updated 11 December 2017

Shiite armed groups in Iraq decide to disband

BAGHDAD: A number of armed Shiite factions that fought Daesh alongside Iraqi government forces have voluntarily announced their dissolution and placed their fighters under the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Iraqi officials and Shiite leaders told Arab News on Sunday.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, announced on Saturday the liberation of all Iraqi territories and the end of the three-year war against Daesh, which seized almost a third of the territories in the west and north in summer 2014.
“At least four (armed) factions have voluntarily decided to disband their troops and gave the prime minister full authority to determine the fate of their fighters,” a senior security Iraqi official told Arab News on condition of anonymity.
“The procedures for disbanding these forces and the implementation mechanisms have not yet been decided, but 90 percent of them are likely to be disbanded and the remainder will be appointed to be a part of the regular security services,” the official said.
“No weapon will remain in the hands of anyone outside the control of the state. The decision to disarm the irregular armed factions will be issued in a few weeks and those who refuse to hand over their weapons will be considered outlaw,” he added.
Some of these details have been confirmed to Arab News by Karim Al-Nuri, a member of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and a senior Badr Brigade leader; Aws Al-Khafaji, the head of the Abu Fadhal Al-Abbas armed faction; and Hisham Al-Hashimi, a security expert and one of the national security advisers.
In a statement on Saturday, Al-Khafaji said: “After the final and big victory against Daesh, we are putting all these troops (Abu Fadhal Al-Abass troops) — which are a part of the PMF — fully under the command of the commander in chief of the armed forces.”
Shiite armed factions have played a vital role in the fighting against Daesh. They had been fighting under the umbrella of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) which was established by Nuri Al-Maliki, the former Iraqi prime minister, in June 2014, to cover the armed factions who volunteered to fight Daesh alongside the government. More than 120,000 is the number of fighters officially registered in the payroll of the PMF.
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Saraya Al-Salam, or the Battalions of Peace, the biggest Shiite armed faction linked to the powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr; Kataib Al-Imam Ali and the Battalions of Imam Ali, which is linked to the Shiite clergymen in Najaf, led by Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, are among these factions, officials said.
“To restrict the arms at the hand of the state and limit the unjustified militarization of the society, Sadr has called to legalize all the armed factions in Iraq, including the Popular Mobilization Forces,” Safa’a Al-Timimi, the spokesman of Saraya Al-Salam, told Arab News.
“Of course we are included in this (Sadr’s) call,” Al-Timimi said.
“We have already begun discussions with the ministers of defense and interior weeks ago to put in place a mechanism to include a number of our fighters in their formations,” he added.
Saraya Al-Salam has 6,000 fighters who are formally registered within the PMF, and they have been deployed in northwestern Karbala, central Samarra, Balad and Ishaqi, Al-Timimi said.
“Our call is clear and explicit. The weapons have to be exclusively in the hands of the government and no one but the disciplined fighters will be included within the regular security services,” Al-Timimi said.

Iraq’s new PM will name cabinet in two days

Updated 21 October 2018

Iraq’s new PM will name cabinet in two days

  • Abdul Mahdi’s proposed cabinet will consist of 22 ministers and two vice-presidents. He will not have a deputy prime minister
  • All the proposed ministers are independents nominated by the political blocs in the ruling coalition

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s new Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi is putting the finishing touches to his first cabinet and will submit the names to parliament for approval in the next two days.

All the proposed ministers are independents nominated by the political blocs in the ruling coalition, and none is a current or former member of parliament, leading party negotiators told Arab News on Sunday.

The Shiite coalition was formed last month after lengthy negotiations following parliamentary elections in May. It comprises the Reform alliance sponsored by the influential Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, and the Iranian backed Al-Binna’a led by Hadi Al-Amiri, commander of the Badr Organization, the most powerful Shiite armed faction.

Abdul Mahdi’s proposed cabinet will consist of 22 ministers and two vice-presidents. He will not have a deputy prime minister. Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and minorities must all be represented, under Iraq’s constitution. In addition, an unwritten rule requires that ministerial posts and high government positions be filled according to the distribution of parliamentary seats.

Negotiators told Arab News that Abdul Mahdi’s ministers for oil, transport, health, electricity, higher education and water will come from the Reform alliance; ministers for the interior, foreign affairs, communication, housing and construction, and labor and industry will be from Al-Binna’a; Sunnis will be ministers for defense, planning, trade, education, agriculture and youth; and the ministers of finance, justice and immigration will be Kurds. 

“The final names have not been revealed yet,” a Reform negotiator told Arab News. “We presented four names for each post and we are waiting for Abdul Mahdi to present his final list on Monday.”

The coalition will support Abdul Mahdi for one year. “The veto imposed by Sadr and Amiri on any current or former parliamentarians to be a minister has embarrassed everyone and pushed them to change their plans,” an Al-Binna’a negotiator said.

“A year is enough to see if Abdul Mahdi has formed a harmonious team and whether his team will succeed, so it’s fair enough for all parties.”