Shiite militias in Iraq, terrified of measures aimed at dissolving the Popular Mobilization Forces, are delaying operations aimed at liberating Mosul in northern Iraq.
They are hindering training for the people of this city and preventing any reconciliation with former military and security officers.
Various parties in the Shiite alliance that direct the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi are obstructing efforts to liberate Mosul from the control of Daesh (Arabic acronym for the self-proclaimed Islamic State).
The main parties in the Shiite alliances actually seek not to see Mosul liberated as this is not in their interest at all. Therefore, they are imposing pressures on al-Abadi not to provide military training for the people of Mosul. These parties also raised problems with Turkey, in charge of training the people of Mosul, prevented the mobilization of police and army in Mosul, and stonewalled any reconciliation between the locals and former Iraqi army officers.
Obtained information shows the decision to liberate the city of Mosul is first and foremost delayed or completely set aside due to political reasons. The liberation of Mosul will most probably pave the path for dissolving the PMF that was established in response to the rise of Daesh overtook large cities such as Mosul, Tikrit, Hawija and areas in Diyala Province in the summer of 2014.
Recently al-Abadi has expressed his perspective on dissolving the PMF immediately after the liberation of Mosul. The Sadrists have expressed their support in this regard. Another party, led by former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki – representing the Iranian regime – has sponsored the presence of the PMF as a preserve army in order to confront possible terrorist threats in Iraq. Iran supports the idea of maintaining the PMF intact after the liberation of Mosul, in parallel to the Iraqi army and police. This would be similar to the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) in Iraq.
Iran is the main party behind delaying operations aimed at liberating Mosul until a political agreement is reached between the Shiite alliance in Iraq and the Sunnis and the Kurds over the PMF’s fate. This entity, formed of armed Iraqi Shiite groups, enjoys strong relations with Iran and the IRGC.
Various parties in the Shiite alliance in Iraq support the idea of reaching a deal with Sunnis over the PMF’s future in return for providing huge support for the Mosul operations. Various Shiite political forces are mentioning the idea of stationing a large PMF force in the Tal’afar region – consisting of mainly Shiite Turkmens – as a contingent to support the liberation of Mosul. This would mean obtaining a foothold for these groups in post-Daesh Mosul.
Various parties in the Shiite alliance have held discussions with the Kurds in this regard, meaning the Kurdish Peshmaraga allowing PMF take part in the Mosul liberation after the town of al-Sharqat in Salahadin Province. This is the closest town to Mosul. Various Shiite groups, with mediation provided by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan led by former Iraqi president Jalal Talabani – enjoying close relations with Iran – have proposed to the Kurdistan Regional Government to form a joint PMF-Peshmarga force to command the Mosul operations. However, the Kurds rejected any Kurdish-Shiite alliance for Mosul, and preferred to have the Sunnis play the main role in liberating this major city.
There are two reasons why the PMF are insisting on entering the operations aimed at liberating Mosul.
Firstly: the Shiite alliance-led government is deeply concerned of a political alliance between the Sunnis and the Kurds in post-Daesh Iraq. This is why they understand very well that abandoning Mosul to the Sunnis to command its security dossier would be very troubling for their interests.
Secondly: Syria and the deteriorating situation in that country. As a result, there is a major concern amongst Iraqi Shiites, and Iran, that defeating Deash in Mosul will provide the necessary conditions for major changes in Syria. Therefore, the PMF are seeking to gain a foothold in the town of Tal’afar, and from there to Rabi’e and all the way to the Iraq-Syria border. This would render these border areas under the control of forces loyal to the Syrian regime.
Maliki’s government had allowed the stationing of nearly 25,000 army and police forces from southern Shiite provinces in this area to guarantee the control of Mosul before it fell to Daesh. All this means the city of Mosul plays the role of a vital area for the Shiite alliance.