The Iraqi parliament voted on Saturday to integrate an Iranian-backed Shi’ite militia into the national army, sparking fears among the country’s sizable Sunni population.
The legislature voted on transforming Iraq’s Shiite-led Hashad al-Shabbi, known as the Popular Mobilization Units, or PMU, which was set up, trained and funded by Iran, into a full-fledged military unit.
The Speaker of Parliament said official recognition does not imply granting the militia immunity from future prosecution, after accusations were made that they had perpetrated crimes against the Sunni population.
Following the resolution, Sunni commentators claimed that national rehabilitation would become impossible as a result of the decision.
Sunni social media users feared that the resolution would give the Iranian Revolutionary Guards a significant foothold in Iraqi public life.
“The Arabs are still unaware of the danger,” Communications Professor Leqaa Maki tweeted. “A local ‘revolutionary guards’ unit is being created in the country, under the name Al Hashd Al Shaabi, which will be Iran’s contractor.”
للعرب الذين لا يدركون خطورة ما يجري، نقول ان حرسا ثوريا جديدا قد تثبت في العراق بأسم الحشد الشعبي، سيقوم بكل ما تريده ايران عربيا.
— د. لقاء مكي (@azzawil) November 26, 2016
Latif Alsaeidy wrote: “The fact that a terrorist militia was legitimized at the behest of the Americans and the Zionists rewards terror in Arab and Muslim countries and gives impetus to a well-known foreign agenda.”
شرعنة مليشيا حشد السيسيتاني الإرهابية بمباركة أمريكا وإرادة صهيونية،يعني شرعنة الإرهاب في بلاد العرب والإسلام لأجندة دولية معلومة
— الشيخ لطيف السعيدي (@ShaikAlSaedy) November 26, 2016
“Legitimizing the Al Hashd militias complements Iran’s terror infrastructure building,” military analyst Khalil Altaii tweeted.
— عميد ركن خليل الطائي (@shvm_90) November 26, 2016
Journalist Mohammed Aljumaili wrote: “Legitimizing the Al Hashd militias gives a stamp of approval to Iran’s military presence in Iraq, and this comes after Iran made clear that they initiated its creation following a fatwa by [the Shi’ite cleric] Sistani.”
He later tweeted: “Legitimizing the Al Hashd militias marks the first practical step, utilizing parliament and the rule of law, toward creating an Iraqi Revolutionary Guard, which will be the basis for an Iranian-made Shi’ite liberation army.”
قانون #شرعنة_مليشيات_الحشد هو الخطوة العملية الأولى باسم القانون والبرلمان لتأسيس الحرس الثوري العراقي نواة "جيش التحرير الشيعي" صناعة إيران
— محمد الجميلي (@MdUbaida) November 26, 2016
“The law passed today sounds the death knell of the modern Iraqi state, founded in 1921,” Dr Yusef Aleshaiker wrote. “Today our war against the Iranians was won by them, with the division of our homeland.”