24 September 2020
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Iraq’s Ansar Al-Marjaiya Splits from PMF, Urges Other to Follow

Saturday, 25 April 2020 20:52
PMF members wave the victory sign onboard a pickup truck, on their way to Tal Afar airport on November 20, 2016. (AFP) PMF members wave the victory sign onboard a pickup truck, on their way to Tal Afar airport on November 20, 2016. (AFP)

Ansar al-Marjaiya on Friday called on other militias operating in Iraq, to follow its example in splitting from the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), in a clear sign of their rejection of the behavior of some factions loyal to Iran’s Wilayet al-Faqih.

This week, Ansar al-Marjaiya, the Imam Ali, Ali Al Akbar and Abbas brigades split from the PMF and are now operating under supreme commander of the armed forces, a position occupied by outgoing Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi. The brigades are all loyal to Iraq’s top Shiite religious authority, Ali al-Sistani, signifying his clear rejection of the behavior of some PMF factions’ total loyalty to Tehran.

In a statement Friday, Ansar al-Marjaiya announced it was studying the possibility of allowing other factions to join. It will make the decision based on national and legal standards and their respect of the constitution. It said it will coordinate with the PMF over the transition of the factions to its new grouping.

It said it was acting with the nation’s interests at heart, stressing it does not harbor any grudges against any other side, regardless of their behavior, adding that it wanted to “correct some courses.”

Divisions within the PMF deepened in wake of differences over the appointment of a successor to deputy leader, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was killed in a US drone strike in January. The strike also killed Iranian top commander Qassem Soleimani.

Earlier this week, Abdul Mahdi had addressed a letter to PMF chief Faleh al-Fayyad to inform him of his order to bring in the four brigades under his command, revealing that more will follow.

Ansar al-Marjaiya said the process of splitting from the PMF was overseen and completed under President Bahram Salih and Abdul Mahdi, as well as representatives of the religious authority, Sheikh Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalai and Sayyed Ahmed Safi.

A source told Asharq Al-Awsat on Friday that Ansar al-Marjaiya’s move effectively means the isolation of the pro-Iranian wing inside the PMF, particularly if other brigades decide to follow in its footsteps.

Source: Asharq Al-Awsat

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