An Iraqi legislator warns that the United States is fomenting a soft coup against Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), better known by the Arabic word Hashd al-Sha’abi, stating Washington is trying to constrain the role of the anti-terror forces.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with the Arabic-language al-Maalomah news agency on Tuesday, Muhammad al-Baldawi, a lawmaker from the Fatah (Conquest) Alliance, said the US had hatched plots to limit the role of Hashd Sha’abi forces and stir up internal strife in Iraq.
“America supports and sponsors terrorism in Iraq, elsewhere in the world and even on its soil in a bid to oppress its own nation. The US seeks to dissolve the PMU, constrain its role and pressure it as if a soft coup is underway in Iraq,” Baldawi pointed out.
The Iraqi lawmaker added, “There are signs of a coup in Iraq. Pieces of information were obtained prior to last year’s [anti-government] demonstrations about the US sponsorship, bids against security authorities as well as attempts to bring former officials wanted for corruption back to power.”
On June 26, a high-ranking official from the Hashd al-Sha’abi slammed a recent unprecedented raid by Iraqi forces on a PMU base in southern Baghdad, stating the operation had been dictated by the US, and that there are foreign attempts to undermine the PMU.
On March 27, the New York Times newspaper reported that the Pentagon had ordered a secret directive, which called on US military commanders to prepare a campaign against Kata’ib Hezbollah, which is part of Hashd al-Sha’abi.
But the United States’ top commander in Iraq had warned that such a campaign could be bloody and counterproductive.
Lieutenant General Robert P. White wrote in a blunt memo that a new military campaign would also require that thousands more American troops be sent to Iraq.
Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters have played a major role in the liberation of areas held by Daesh terrorists ever since the Takfiri group launched an offensive in the country, overrunning vast swathes in lightning attacks.
In November 2016, the Iraqi parliament voted to integrate the PMU, which was formed shortly after the emergence of Daesh in Iraq in 2014, into the military.
The popular group, however, is a thorn in the side of the United States which is widely believed to be managing an array of militant groups, including Daesh, to advance its Israel-centric agenda in the region.
Iraqi lawmakers unanimously approved a bill on January 5, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign troops following the US assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of Iraq’s PMU, and their companions.
There have been growing calls for the Baghdad government to pave the way for the implementation of the parliamentary order.