Tactics Institute Urges Immediate Action to Counter Growing Threats from the Popular Mobilization Force in Iraq

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Tactics Institute expresses profound concern regarding the escalating threats to regional security emanating from the actions of the Popular Mobilization Force in Iraq. The PMF’s rapid rise in political, institutional, and economic power, coupled with its aggressive agenda, poses a significant risk to regional stability.

The PMF was created in 2014 after ISIS captured Mosul and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani gave a fatwa that called for Iraqis to fight to protect their country. Sistani subsequently slammed the PMF for exploiting his religious decree to bulge its ranks, since Sistani had in fact requested Iraqis to join Iraq’s armed forces. 

The PMF, led by Iran-aligned factions, has significantly expanded its influence within Iraq, consolidating its position as a formidable political and institutional force. Backed by support from Iran, the PMF aims to drive U.S. forces out of Iraq amid escalating tensions in the region.

Since October 7, 160 attacks by Iran-backed militias, including the Kataib Hezbollah, a prominent group within the PMF, have targeted U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria, resulting in casualties and heightened regional tensions. The PMF’s actions, including attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and bases in Erbil and the Kurdistan region, pose a direct threat to regional stability and undermine efforts to counter the Islamic State (ISIS).

Tactics Institute calls upon the international community to recognize the situation’s urgency and take decisive action to address the PMF’s destabilizing activities. The PMF’s aggressive tactics not only violate international norms but also jeopardize the safety and security of civilians and undermine the rule of law in Iraq.

The PMF’s expansion of economic power, including control over state resources and economic networks, raises concerns about corruption, illicit activities, and the abuse of power. The PMF’s influence extends beyond domestic politics, infiltrating Kurdistan and undermining efforts to promote stability and security in the region.

Moreover, Kata’ib Hizballah, one of the forces of the PMF, is documented by Japan’s Public Security Intelligence Agency as a terrorist organization. The UAE also classifies it as a terrorist. Kata’ib Hizballah was designated a terrorist organization in 2009 by the US. Its head, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, was also designated a terrorist. In 2019, the U.S. designated Harakat al-Nujaba and its leader Akram al-Ka’abi Specially Designated Global Terrorists. In 2020, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, a strong Iran-backed militia that is an element of the PMF, was designated as a terrorist organization. In 2023, the U.S. added PMF militia Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada to its checklist of Specially Designated Global Terrorists.

Tactics Institute reiterates its call for the PMF and its backers to immediately cease their destabilizing actions in Iraq and prioritize peace, security, and stability in the region. Swift and concerted efforts are essential to prevent further escalation and mitigate the threats of the PMF’s aggressive agenda.

Tactics Institute underscores the importance of international cooperation and dialogue in addressing the complex challenges facing the region. We urge all stakeholders to work together to confront the growing threats posed by the PMF and safeguard the stability and prosperity of the region.

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