June 4, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8781

Iraqi PMU Chairman Instructs Factions To Convert Into Regular Army Units, Cut Ties With Iran In Line With Prime Minister Al-Kadhimi's Plan

June 4, 2020
Iran, Iraq | Special Dispatch No. 8781

On June 3, 2020, several Iraqi media outlets reported that the Chairman of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), Falih Al-Fayyadh, issued a circular letter that included a series of instructions addressed to all PMU factions, obligating them to terminate their political and non-political affiliation with all parties and organizations, to close all their headquarters within Iraq's cities, and to replace their political names with numbers, like other units in the Iraqi Armed Forces. These instructions came in line with Iraq's new Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi's endeavors to integrate the PMU factions into the Iraqi Armed Forces and break their ties with Iran.[1]

The instructions came few weeks after new Iraqi Prime Minister and Chief Commander of the Iraqi Armed Forces, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi visited the PMU's headquarters, where he outlined his plan to integrate the PMU into Iraq's security forces, providing that they comply with the State's authority and with the PMU law - which was ratified in 2016 by the Iraqi parliament, but was not implemented by previous governments.[2]

Local reports provided photos of the two-page document signed by Al-Fayyadh on June 3, 2020, which included ten points all PMU factions must comply with immediately. According to the leaked document, these instructions were originally sent to the PMU Chairman on July 1, 2019, but Al-Fayyadh did not endorse nor implement these instructions until June 3, 2020.[3] The issuance of these instructions also coincided with a visit from Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force Commander Ismail Qaani to Baghdad, as a member of an official delegation headed by the Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian.[4]

The following are the key points from the letter: 

Based on the Law of the Popular Mobilization Units (No. 40) issued in 2016, and in reference to the letter of the Prime Minister's Office in July 1, 2019, and in order to underline governing regulations that control the work of the PMU during the upcoming period, we instruct the following:

First, all PMU factions must break any partisan, political, and non-political ties with the various Iraqi political forces, and abandon all operational titles used during their fight against the Islamic State (ISIS). Instead, factions are to use military titles used to describe regiments, divisions, and other military formations, as stipulated by the executive order no. 331 in 2019.

Second, the same applies to the Tribal Mobilization Units [the pro-government Sunni factions] which are to be merged with the PMU. The administrative committee assigned to supervise this merge is to complete its work within 30 days from the date of issuance of this letter.

Third, factions must close all headquarters within Iraq's cities.

Fourth, the final plan of housing these factions will be approved in accordance with the battle system used by the armed forces.

Fifth, factions should not practice any activity beyond the framework of the PMU's authority; since they are now to be considered a military formation [under the umbrella] of the Iraqi Armed Forces, and report to the Commander in Chief.

Sixth, PMU members are to present personal documents in order to ensure they receive salaries and pensions in accordance with their service history. Seventh, legal measures may be taken against those who violates these regulations.

Eighth, the PMU security committee is responsible for dealing with any violation.


[1], June 3, 2020.

[3] This indicates that the letter was originally sent by the office of then-Prime Minister Adel Abdul Madhi following the July 2019 attacks on Iraqi bases hosting U.S. forces and on a U.S. oil company based in Basra.

[4] Baghdadtoday, June 3, 2020.

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