The secretary general of Badr Organization, Iraq’s biggest Shia Muslim paramilitary group, has told his fighters to take orders from the national military and sever their relations with the group’s political wing, which holds 22 seats in the Iraqi parliament.
Hadi al-Amiri made the request in a speech delivered on Thursday, further calling on his fighters to withdraw from the cities under their control.
“I also call on all my brothers, the commanders of various formations, to clear cities of all signs of militarization,” he said.
Badr Organization is the biggest constituent of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), also known as Hashd al-Sha’abi, an Iraqi state-sponsored umbrella organization composed of some 40 groups, which are mainly Shia Muslims.
The force reportedly numbers more than 100,000 fighters. Iraqi authorities say there are between 25,000 and 30,000 Sunni tribal fighters within its ranks in addition to Kurdish Izadi and Christian units. The fighters have played a major role in the liberation of Daesh-held areas to the south, northeast and north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, ever since the terrorists launched an offensive in the country in 2014.
The move will pave the way for Amiri to stand in parliamentary elections due to be held on May 12, as the PMU members cannot run for office unless they formally resign their posts.
Hashd al-Sha’abi, officially made part of the Iraqi security establishment by law, formally answers to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
Amiri is the second top commander of the PMU, who decided to separate the military and political wings of his organization. Qais al-Khazali, commander of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq volunteer forces of the PMU, announced a similar move On Wednesday, when he said he would place his fighters under Abadi’s command.
On Saturday, Abadi declared the end of military operations against Daesh after a three-year hard campaign by government troops and PMU fighters against the terror outfit.