An Iraqi legislator has condemned recent remarks by US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino against pro-government Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), describing them as “prejudicial” and “in violation of the sovereignty of Iraq.”
Abbas al-Ismaili, a member of the Security and Defense Committee in the Iraqi Parliament, said the voluntary forces – better known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi – are an important part of the country’s security system that defeated terrorism and achieved victory over the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group.
Ismaili further noted that “any attack on Hashd Sha’abi forces amounts to violation of the sovereignty of Iraq, and a flagrant interference in the security and internal affairs of the country.”
“Washington is trying to dissolve the PMU by means of blacklisting some of its factions. Such measures have failed since Hashd al-Sha’abi forces do not care about these pressures at all, and will not allow the United States to be a guarantor of the country,” the lawmaker pointed out.
Ismaili then called on the Baghdad government and the Iraqi Foreign Ministry to summon US Ambassador to Iraq, Matthew Tueller, and hand him a note of protest for his country’s violation of Iraq’s sovereignty.
“Palladino’s description of Popular Mobilization Units as sectarian armed forces is unacceptable and should not be tolerated,” Ismaili highlighted.
Ali al-Husseini, a spokesman for the Popular Mobilization Units, also said the Iraqi government is obliged to respond to Palladino’s comments, and take deterrent measures to stop US rant about Hashd al-Sha’abi, and put an end to President Donald Trump’s intervention in the security and political affairs of Iraq.
Mahmoud Rubai’i, a spokesperson for Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq group – a main component of the PMU, also said that the results of last parliamentary elections proved US failure in Iraq.
“This is a graver failure of US politics than its military failure,” Rubai’i said.
He stressed that Washington’s reports would not distract Hashd al-Sha’abi from its goals.
Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters played a major role in the liberation of Daesh-held areas to the south, northeast and north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, ever since the terrorists launched an offensive in the country in June 2014.
Iraq has repeatedly condemned allegations of sectarian nature against the voluntary force.
The Iraqi parliament on November 26, 2016 approved a law giving full legal status to Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters.
It recognized the PMU as part of the national armed forces, placed the volunteer fighters under the command of the prime minister, and granted them the right to receive salaries and pensions like the regular army and police forces.
Former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the end of military operations against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in the Arab country on December 9, 2017.
On July 10 that year, he had formally declared victory over Daesh in Mosul, which served as the terrorists’ main urban stronghold in Iraq.
In the run-up to Mosul’s liberation, Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters had made sweeping gains against Daesh.
Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January 2017 after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19 last year.
Daesh began a terror campaign in Iraq in 2014, overrunning vast swathes in lightning attacks.