A commander with the Iranian-allied Shiite militias fighting in Iraq argued this week that U.S. military troops who continue to back the Middle Eastern country’s forces against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) pose a threat to the nation’s unity.
Known as the Hashd al-Shaabi, Arabic for the Popular Mobilization Forces/Units (PMF/PMU), the umbrella organization made up predominantly of Iranian-backed Shiite militias has been fighting ISIS alongside American troops and their allies in Iraq.
Nevertheless, members of Congress have proposed a bipartisan bill to designate at least two PMF components—Asaib Ahl al-Haq (League of the Righteous) and Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba—as terrorist groups and give President Donald Trump 90 days to impose sanctions on them.
The proposal has prompted some of the Shiite militiamen to deem the American troops in Iraq their “enemy.”
Placing “Hashd al-Shaabi factions on the U.S. terror list is part of a plot against the entire outfit [PMF] because [the U.S. and their Sunni Gulf countries allies] have failed in dividing and fragmenting Iraq,” declared Jabbar al-Maamouri, a PMF commander, reports Kurdistan24, citing the Arabic-language Alsumaria News.
The Shiite militia chief accused the U.S. and their alleged Sunni allies of trying to assassinate PMF members.
Iraq would continue to suffer “from conspiracies and acts of sedition” as long as the American troops maintain a presence in the country, added Maamouri, urging Shiites to unite against the U.S. military.
Several PMF factions, including the aforementioned Hezbollah Brigades and AAH, which has American blood on its hands, have threatened U.S. troops since they returned to Iraq in 2013 to combat ISIS.
The Institute for the Study of War reported in December 2012 that AAH claimed more than 6,000 attacks on U.S. troops between 2006 and 2011.
Experts estimate there are currently between 100,000 and 120,000 PMF fighters in Iraq.
Abdullatif al-Amidi, the commander of the Saraya al-Ashura PMF faction, recently threatened the U.S. as “our direct enemy,” demanding American troops leave.
Although American troops have fought alongside the PMF, praising them for their contribution to the fight against ISIS, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently urged the Shiite fighters to “go home.”
Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) recently introduced the bipartisan Iranian Proxies Terrorist Sanctions Act of 2017 that imposes terrorist sanctions on “two of the most nefarious Iranian-controlled militias in Iraq and Syria: As-Saib Ahl Al-Haq and Harakat Hizballah Al-Nujaba,” notes the congressman’s office.
Reuters reports that the Iraqi government, which legalized the PMF as an official force within of the Iraqi military in November 2016, and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi oppose the bill, saying they would not permit anyone who fought ISIS to labeled as criminals.