(Photo credit: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP)
The Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), also known as Hashd al-Shaabi, announced that they will not disarm nor cease operations until the complete withdrawal of US forces from Iraqi soil, according to the head of the PMU in a televised interview on 8 April.
PMU chief Falih al-Fayyadh stipulated in an interview with Iraqi TV station Al Sharqiya that the Iraqi armed resistance groups will gladly hand over their weapons to the Iraqi army, but this will not happen “until the next Iraqi government is formed, and all US forces pull out of the country.”
However, these resistance groups operate independently and have no direct connection to the PMU leadership. Al-Fayyadh referred to statements issued by the PMU which declared they have no connection to operations carried out by resistance groups.
In clarifying the relationship between the PMU and resistance forces, the PMU chief said “it is possible there are individual similarities between the forces of Hashd al-Shaabi and the forces of resistance, but there is no direct connection between them.”
The Coordination Committee of the Iraqi Resistance acts as a “spiritual body” and has no role in the affairs and activities of the PMU and the various resistance groups, he noted.
The deadlock to form a new government in Iraq has yet to be overcome, as the Sadrist bloc withdrew from negotiations on 31 March.
The Coordination Framework (CF) has been in charge of negotiations, with Sadr granting them 40 days to form a national unity government that does not include the Sadrist bloc.
The CF is an ad hoc group of Shia parties with close ties to the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), including the State of Law Coalition and the Fatah Alliance. These parties lost by a large margin to the Sadrist bloc during the highly controversial elections last October.
Only a few days after the US assassinated Iranian Quds Force General Qassem Soleimani and PMU second-in-command General Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis on 3 January 2020, the Iraqi parliament voted on a law to withdraw permission for the US to operate on Iraqi soil and to oversee the departure of their forces.
The law has yet to be implemented by the Iraqi government.
The PMU has been at the forefront of the fight against ISIS in Iraq since June 2014.