Members of the paramilitary Popular Mobilization Forces.
23 December 2020
Iran-backed militia is causing headache to Iraq which is struggling to emerge from the decades of dictatorship. Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) consisting mainly of Iraqi Shiites, is a para-military organization approved by the Iraqi government to counter the Iran-backed militia. Commander of Iran-backed Al Khorasani Brigades and his former deputy along with more than a dozen of his followers were detained by Security forces affiliated to the PMF.
Since taking office in May, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi has tried to rein in militias backed by Tehran, but failed. Iraq has no money and Iran has money.
In a statement the PMF said it had closed down six military and administrative offices in Baghdad and arrested several people for violating laws and regulations. When Iraqi security forces crumbled in mid-2014 as ISIS swept through northern and western Iraq, Shiite volunteers and militias answered a call from the country’s influential Shiite cleric, grand ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, to join the fight.
Iran-backed militias are accused of embezzling businessmen and investors. They also get money through front companies to win government deals or secure deals or projects for businessmen against a share of profits. Al Khorasani Brigades quelled the pro-reform protests that broke out in central and southern Iraq last October. Iran-backed militias have more than eight of offices in Mosul for making money in every way possible. Through these offices, they blackmail investors, contractors and wealthy individuals by extracting taxes and skimming revenues. This has forced some civilians to flee from Mosul.
The present developments could lead to dismantling of the Iran-backed group for their widespread corruption.