Iraq is stepping in with the wish to curb Iran’s rampant and irresponsible use of power to instigate and continue to financially support armed groups.
In a media report, it has been confirmed that Iraqi’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has decided to take steps to rein in Iranian-backed armed groups. This is being seen as his effort to calm international concerns over Iran’s increasing influence in the country.
The Popular Mobilisation Forces (also known as Hashed Al Shaabi) might have played a vital role in the US-led coalition to drive ISIS out of Iraq. But there is no denying that a majority of them are funded and backed by Iran.
The PMF has around 140,000 fighters and broad influence in Iraqi politics. An alliance of fighters and leaders finished second in last year’s election.
Yet some of its constituent groups have played a troubling role within Iraq, having been accused of kidnappings and extrajudicial killings.
The decree to limit their power comes amid rising pressure from the US and the Gulf states to tackle Tehran’s influence at a time of rising tensions.
“The timing of the order seems to suggest that one of the main goals is to ally American and regional concerns over the possibility that a Hashed faction could be used by Iran in its confrontation with them,” Fanar Haddad, senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute, has said to the media.
With relations between Tehran and Washington having recently been pushed to the limits over the fallout from US sanctions on Iran due to its nuclear activities, there have been fears of a possible confrontation on Iraqi soil.