Iraq PM Thanks Top Shia Cleric Ayatollah Sistani for Role in Anti-Islamic State War


On Friday, the Prime Minister Haider-al-Abadi thanked Iraq’s top Shia cleric for his role in the war against the Jihadists, praising him for saving the nation and setting the stage for conquest. 3 days after the Mosul dropped to the Islamic state group in 2014, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called on Iraqis to offer to clash the Jihadists, a step that helped to prevent their steady offensive. On the other hand, the call leaves an intricate legacy, leading to the rebirth of Shiite militias that contain performed abuses and the establishment of new paramilitary organizations, both these styles which could be a source of future instability.

The Abadi issued a statement expressing his “deep thanks and gratitude” to Sistani for “his great and continuing support to the heroic fighters.” Abadi said that the cleric’s 2014 call for volunteers “saved Iraq and opened the way of victory” over IS. The message of Abadi came after as the fight to retake the second city Mosul nears the conclusion, a payoff for forces that performed poorly there three years back. On the other hand, Sistani made the call through a representative speaking on Friday praying on June 13, 2014, days after multiple Iraqi partitions collapsed in the face of the IS assault in the north. “Citizens who are able to bear arms and fight terrorists, defending their country and their people and their holy places, should volunteer and join the security forces to achieve this holy purpose,” he said.

This sparked an overflow of volunteers who were prepared under what became known as the Hashed al-Shaabi, or popular Mobilization forces – an umbrella group of pro-government paramilitaries that are authoritatively under the control of the country’s premier.  However, the pre-existing Shiite militias that took part in the vicious Sunni-Shiite sectarian killing that seriously affected Iraq in last some years were also located under the Hashed al-Shaabi banner and have played an important role in functions against IS. These organizations provided a pool of competent fighters that Baghdad could depend on to fight IS. However, they have also taken out violations, including kidnappings and overview executions in Sunni Arab areas that in the end weaken Iran’s efforts to contradict the Jihadists.

The role of Hashed-al-Shaabi after the war against IS ends is an important question, and the forces could be a source of insecurity. The rivalries could lead to brutality, between units, and Hashed fighters previously clashed with Iraqi Kurdish are made in the country’s north. The Hashed could also have a political impact, with several commanders potentially aiming to translate military success into political capital in the 2018 parliamentary elections.