After the sanctions imposed by the US Treasury Department on the head of the Popular Mobilization Authority in Iraq, Faleh al-Fayyad, observers are likely to impose sanctions on the PMF and include it in the list of “terrorist organizations.”
What confirms these preferences is the “control of factions close to Iran over the decision of the Popular Mobilization Forces,” according to observers, at a time when the PMF’s decision must be linked to the Iraqi state according to its law that was voted on by the House of Representatives in 2016.
According to an American source who spoke to Al-Jazeera Net, there are high chances that Washington will place the Popular Mobilization Forces in the same list in which it placed the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in 2019 and classified it as a “terrorist organization.”
The source – who works at the US State Department – says that “the Popular Mobilization Forces are an Iraqi institution, but we know that its decision is Iranian and is controlled by factions directly linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and this will force Washington to impose sanctions on it or classify it on the list of terrorist organizations.”
Since January 2020, the crowd has been subjected to major shocks, most notably the killing of its de facto leader and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, its deputy chief, in an American raid, and the defection of a group of factions close to the supreme Shiite cleric Ali al-Sistani and forming what is known as the “Horde of Reference”, as well as “unknown air strikes.” His weapons stores were targeted.
In turn, Rahman al-Jubouri – a former senior researcher at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington – expects that “there will be US sanctions and classifications of factions in the PMF, not on the Hashd as a whole institution.”
Al-Jubouri told Al-Jazeera Net that “the American classifications and sanctions that will be issued will target the leaders of the PMF factions.”
Specialists believe that Washington is seeking to pressure the popular crowd through US sanctions or classifications, in an attempt to neutralize factions within it targeting the US embassy and the international coalition convoys in Iraq.
For his part, retired Major General Majid Al-Qaisi tells Al-Jazeera Net that the classification war has begun, and the PMF will either be blacklisted, sanctions imposed on it by the US Treasury, or included in the terrorism list, and this is the last stage that Washington will resort to.
He added that “America may pressure the crowd only by imposing sanctions on it, to influence its leaders to change their positions on the American presence in Iraq and prevent attacks on the US embassy.”
And Al-Qaisi pointed out that “the crowd was required before these sanctions that its decision be Iraqi, and not follow Iranian decisions that contradict the interests of the Iraqi state, especially with regard to the influence of factions within the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.”
The Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) was formed in 2014 with a fatwa from the supreme Shiite cleric, Ali al-Sistani, who issued a fatwa to “volunteer for the efficient jihad”, to participate in the fight against the Islamic State during its control over large parts of the north and northwest of the country, then it became an official institution after voting on its draft law.
An expected wait
For his part, Adnan al-Sarraj, a leader in the State of Law coalition led by Nuri al-Maliki, said, “The United States tends to classify Al-Hashd as a terrorist organization, and the sanctions against Fayyad start to be the second decision to classify the Hashd as a terrorist organization.”
Al-Sarraj added to Al-Jazeera Net that “the sanctions imposed on Al-Fayyad faced popular and political rejection, and this prompted the American administration to wait in the classification of the Hashd as a terrorist organization, and it is a wait and not a final decision.”
Last Friday, the US Treasury imposed sanctions against the head of the Popular Mobilization Authority in Iraq, Faleh al-Fayyad, under which all his money in the United States was confiscated.
The ministry said it had imposed sanctions on Al-Fayadh for “serious violations of human rights during the anti-corruption protests in Iraq.”