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Iraq, Iran struggle for control over Popular Mobilization Units

The Popular Mobilization Units are divided into two rival groups, with some wanting to join the Iraqi army and others wanting to remain independent.
Iraqi fighters from Hashid Shaabi take part in a training at Makhmur camp in Iraq December 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem - RTX2UHUL
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In a remarkable shift of events, the Iraqi Ministry of Defense added on July 20 a number of Al-Abbas Combat Division troops to its ranks following Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s approval, thus making the brigade the first Shiite faction in the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) to partially join the Iraqi regular forces.

This step underscores the divergence in views and trends among the PMU Shiite factions, which have different viewpoints on the future of the PMU and its relationship with the Iraqi state. While some of them entrench their Iraqi orientation, others are keen to deepen their relations with Iran and be part of its regional plans.

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