Skip to main content

Why Iraq needs to depoliticize their Popular Mobilization Units

Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units are made up of several groups whose political interests differ, clashing sometimes, which is causing the units to shift focus from the most urgent need — fighting the Islamic State.
Sunni fighters who have joined Shi'ite militia groups known collectively as Hashid Shaabi (Popular Mobilization), who are allied with Iraqi forces against the Islamic State, gesture with their weapons in al-Alam Salahuddin province March 17, 2015. Iraq paused its Tikrit offensive on Monday and officials called for more air strikes against Islamic State militants, while an officer said Kurdish forces sustained two more chlorine gas attacks by insurgents.  REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani (IRAQ - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL
Read in 

The prevailing confusion in Iraq and abroad over the role of the Popular Mobilization Units in the military operations and impact on the present and future political decisions in Iraq can be explained by this military force — which consists of volunteers and members of armed groups — having been so far the most efficient force in countering the Islamic State (IS), as it succeeded in shrinking the risks of a possible IS expansion to Baghdad and southern Iraq.

Despite the misunderstanding and conflicting information on the units’ nature and activities, its legitimacy derives from “the righteous jihad” fatwa that was issued June 2014 by the highest Shiite authority in Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.