US-Backed National Guard Bill in Iraq Stirs Fears of PMF Breakdown

Alwaght- The US military has not learned its lessons from its previous failures at war so this time instead of rebuilding an entire army it is planning to create a National Guard in Iraq to fight the ISIS expansion bid.At first, this may seem like a strategy aimed at reinforcing the Iraqi military in the face of ISIS terrorists who have wrought mayhem across the oil-rich state.

Yet when one takes a closer look at the map of the conflict it becomes apparent that the US-backed National Guard initiative, which has been placed at the center of the government in Baghdad, has Washington’s agenda written all over it.

Officials have said that they are seeking to form nine new Iraqi army brigades divided between permanent and reserve units with as much as 45,000 light-infantry soldiers.

One senior US official told the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity: “The idea is, at least in the first instance, to try and build a kind of leaner, meaner Iraqi army.”

If ratified, a likely scenario would change the equation on the battlefield and this is why fears are arising. In the event the bill is passed, the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), which were formed in June to join the battle to retake the large swathes of territory that ISIS overran, would be disbanded and integrated into the National Guard because, according to the daft, it is part of the collapsed army.

Taking into consideration the role that the PMF has played in the victories in specific and battles on a larger scale, such a drastic change in its military positions would be a game changer. The makeup of the armed forces, which failed to live up to the expectations due to its weak structure, will muddle the consistency of the PMF which, on the other hand, has put up a resilient front against ISIS.

 

Article 6 of the bill stipulates that the greater part of the Popular Mobilization Forces be assigned to reserve service, a five year period in which soldiers are obliged to take part in a one-month training program once a year.

Pushing back members of the PMF to the sidelines of the war instead of using the zeal they carry for defending their country as ammunition is a grave mistake to repeat. This is what the bill suggests and it would only lead to the gradual dissolution of the PMF, deficiency in performance, as well as the squandering of a body functioning in chorus to harmony of resistance.

Prior to the Bill, Washington insisted that the PMF be prevented from participating in the battle for Anbar. Although its wish was not granted, the US government is now pressuring Baghdad to pass the Bill by guaranteeing the arming and training of tribes.

While supporters of the bill are sure to vote yes, its opponents have maintained their argument that it would mark the beginning of another era of divisions in Iraq. For many, no government program should be adopted at the expense of the unity of Iraq which will irrevocably destroy what the PMF has been building in the past few months.

As an entity on its own, the Popular Mobilization Forces emerged from the people’s will and ardor and so it should remain prepared for the same purpose and avoid being affected by political corruption and western hegemony.

By Al Waght