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What are Iraq's Popular Mobilization Units doing in Beirut?

A leader of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) talks to Al-Monitor about talks held in Beirut Aug. 8-11, behind the scenes and away from the media spotlights, between a Western diplomatic delegation and 12 people representing the leadership of the PMU.
Iraqi Sunni Muslim fighters from Hashid Shaabi (Popular Mobilization) take part in a parade during a ceremony marking the Iraqi Police Day at Amiriyat al-Fallujah in Anbar province, January 9, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani - RTX21NI3
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BEIRUT — A hotel in Beirut was the scene of a series of secret meetings Aug. 8-11 between a diplomatic delegation that included representatives from Western countries and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and a delegation composed of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) leaders. The meetings were not covered in the media and no press statements were issued; the outcomes of the discussions were not made public. However, Al-Monitor was able to meet with a PMU faction leader who participated in those meetings at a hotel he was staying at in Beirut’s surroundings. The leader spoke on condition of anonymity about the meetings in Beirut and the situation in Baghdad.

The meetings were kept secret for several reasons, including security considerations so as to ensure the safety of the members of the Western delegation and Iraqi attendees that included military officials. Also, it is worth noting that the relations between the PMU and the countries represented in the delegation are not public.

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