Testimony from local people on Shia militia activity in Anbar and Mosul areas
Noori, close to Hashd Al-Aayabat (Shrines militia, associated with Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani) and Iraqi Army
In Anbar, there is a competition under way for control and influence. The PMU consider that they have the right to rule and for freedom of action. This is contrary to the view and concept of the Iraqi army and the commander in chief (ie Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi).
Today, it is very obvious that behind the PMU is the will and agenda of Iran, operating through a number of factions of the PMU.
Any attempt to directly clash with and eliminate these proxy militias by the Iraqi Army or any other unit would be suicide for everyone. It would bring Iraq to a situation like that in Lebanon in 1975.
In order to solve the issue there’s a need to be smart. They need to implement Executive Order 237, which says there shouldn't be any role of parties in the military forces, so as to bring the PMU under the direct command of the chief of staff.
Unfortunately, Sadr has disappointed the Iraqi people. Our situation is really bad.
There will not be any clashes between the Iraqi army and the PMU, as long as we have some personnel like Haj Hadi amiri, he is one of those who reject any clashes between the PMU and Army.
But even Amiri cannot reject any direct order coming from Iran, and he puts his party and personal interest above everything ,even Iraq.
Atheel Nujaifi, 54, former governor of Mosul
Iran is controlling the PMU in a direct or indirect way, via the leaders of various brigades, and they eliminate whoever is not in line with them. It's not only Shia who are targeted but also Sunni and Kurds. They are removing and changing the personnel in different brigades of the PMU depending on the regional situation.
In the Mosul area Badr and Asaib Ahl Al Haq are controlling on the ground and they aren't directly and formally linked with the PMU administration. But, there is an intelligence system in place in that area that works within the PMU framework. It is located near to Bartila(Hamdania) district and its totally closed in the area. I can't give exact names of persons and location due to security reasons, but this is a system maintained by pro-Iran proxy militias and is directly linked with the PMU intelligence, not the formal PMU administration. They are controlling and doing special operations. The 30th brigade of PMU is also controlled by this structure.
This intelligence structure is directly linked with proxy militias (Asaib, Hezbullah, Nujaba, and Badr) they have a unified administration that manages, administrates and controls everything in the area in Mosul.
They are all working to keep the Sunnis weak and to expand Iranian domination. They have begun also working against the Kurds. In the coming phase we are going through, we strongly expect the clashes and conflicts to be against Kurds more than Sunnis. The goal is clear, there will be Kurds allied with Iran, and Kurds against Iran.
Iran mainly will be focusing on the PKK, for its projects against the Kurdistan region to control it. Therefore, we see the increased mandate and domination of PKK not only in Sinjar but inside of Kurdistan - especially in the mountains and border area between Turkey and Iran with Kurdistan.
The agreement between YBS and YJS in Sinjar to join them to the PMU is intended to mix the cards among power in the region. But this will not be acceptable to Turkey and they are likely to demand a clear stance from the Iraqi government about the presence of the PKK in Iraq.
Mahammad Qais, 45, close to pro-Iran militias
The order has been given in Anbar by Nasr Al-Ghanam, Iraqi army commander in Anbar. It was proposed to rearrange the forces and their deployment in the area. The PMU rejected this, so they can maintain their influence and create fear among people. The pictures of the two leaders(Qods Force Commander Qasim Soleimani and PMU commander Abu Mahdi al Muhandis) and the PMU flag are intended to impose their will against people. They know that these people committed crimes against the people of western Anbar, so the people don’t want their presence in the area. Everyone knows their history, and that of (militia commanders) Hadi Al-Amiri, Abo Drila and Al-Adib.
But Ghanam didn't get enough support from the ministry of defense, due to corruption. In the Iraqi ministry of defense there is none that can get higher rank if they don't have Iranian approval. Ghanam is Sunni and he is from the area of Anbar. People cooperate with him and he is held in affection. That has made him enemies.
The reaction that the PMU made in Anbar against the Iraqi army reflects their behavior in all the areas in which they are present. So, you can imagine the hell that the Sunni people are living in under the proxy militias in their area. Proxy militias control every move and every branch of life such as investment, agriculture and security- they play with the lives of people in this area.
The Iran agenda in Iraq is to create a state based on the Iranian system of Wilayat al Fakih (Rule of the Jurisprudent). Based on this belief, they are preparing everything for the expected Imam.
Proxy militias in Sinjar are a part of the expansion process of this project – from Tehran to Baghdad, to Damascus all the way to Beirut, Lebanon.
The 30th brigade of the PMU in Ninawa plain are already starting to control more areas, village by village close to Bartella
Abo Bara, 35, political analyst and Mosul activist
The 30th brigade of the PMU in Ninawa plain are already starting to control more areas, village by village close to Bartella (Hamdania), and all the villages that are near to the border with the Kurdistan region. They are working on taking the Iraqi army out from the area so they can remain in there. They are using their political party and influence to get the army to leave the area for them. It’s the same thing that happened in Anbar when the PMU directly threatened an Iraqi general to cut his hand if he touched the picture of the leaders (Soleimani and al-Muhandis) or the PMU flag. So, they are playing and ruling in the Ninawa plain as if they are a State.
The PMU committee in Mosul is divided between Falih Al-Fayad, who is responsible for the Sunni tribal PMU, and Abu Fadak al-Mohammadawi, responsible for Shia PMU, and Maithem Al-Zaidi, the chief of the ‘Shrines’ PMU.
In Sinjar, Ktaeb Hezbollah has a very strong presence in the area. Asaib and Khurasani militias are there as well. All these three are present inside of Sinjar city, they are controlling everything. It's not easy for anyone to get them out from the area. They have economic interests there. Inside of Mosul, there is the presence of the Badr organisation and Asaib. Asaib is under the control of Haji Hussain, a Shia.
Badr headquarters is in Kafaat Al-thania, and Asaib are headquartered in Al-Arabi neighborhood, inside private houses. The PMU HQ is divided into two parts - Shia and Sunni. The base of the PMU is called The Popular Mobilization Advisory Body in Mosul. But the Sunni have a base inside Saddam Palace in Mosul.
In the PMU, every faction plays and moves according to its own agenda. They do have a specific agenda which are tenders, investment, construction and other businesses. Most of the government contracts and investment have been taken by Badr and Asaib.
The south of Mosul is controlled by Hashd Al-Marjaaia (Shines PMU).
The proxy militias make use of well-known and respected people in Mosul to persuade people to support them in any decision they going to make. They are taking advantage of the economic situation of people. They are using these well known people by paying them a lot of money to be their face among the people. They gave weapons, houses, real estate, land, investment contracts and so on. So they will deceive people by showing that these Moslawi people are representing them for any right or demand they may have. Most of the people in Mosul can easily be persuaded because they are not well-aware and due to the bad economic conditions they face.
Political figures in Anbar, especially Mohammed Halbousi (President of the Iraqi parliament) are giving a lot of support to the Iraqi army and the people in the area. As the president of the Iraqi parliament which is the highest position in Iraq in implementing law and rules. He has very strong contacts in national politics. Halbousi is trying to get the PMU out of this area. He has large level support on the ground in Anbar.
The last escalation that took place in Mosul city against the PMU was a message that ‘we don't want you here anymore and there is no reason for your presence in the area.’ One day, everyone will stand against the PMU and eventually they will have to go back to the place where they came from.
Even in Mosul, you don't see a lot of PMU flags or pictures. We can see them more though in the areas surrounding the city.