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’Popular Mobilization’ [Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi]: Where Others Failed
Mohammad Bdeir

The Western media is more adamant to describe it [Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces] as militias, and the Gulf media insists on adding the term "sectarianism" to this description. For starters, both of them ignored - when it was still possible - its explicit field achievements in confronting Daesh in favor of devoting a stereotypical image presenting them as Shiite gangs that have been practicing in sectarian cleansing against Sunnis and committing massacres against them.

"Popular Mobilization" [Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi]: Where Others Failed

Given the logic of the Gulf-'Israeli'-American mainstream, one should not ignore the existing demonization efforts against it [PMU], defining it in the future as terrorism and including it in the relevant lists, as in the case of the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance. All this, and probably more ... But no one in this world will be able to deny the objective fact that history will record in spite of everything, that the "popular mobilization" [al-Hashd al-Shaabi], without anyone else, saved [with all that this word means] the Iraqi state and people during the few months following June 2014 from falling into the jaws of the Daesh monster, which was given birth by the US-Turkish Gulf conspiracy.

Without anyone else. The regular Iraqi forces, represented by the army, the federal police and others, were in those fateful weeks under an existential trauma that forced it to lose its balance, effectiveness and role. A shock the size of the collapse of about one third of the organizational structure of the Iraqi army [about five teams] in a matter of days and the capture of all its equipment and weapons by Daesh. The shock was captured by the brutal recording of the Spyker massacre that left about 1,700 soldiers and officers dead. It was the size of relying on leaks directed at the military leadership, which spoke of the absurdity of any action in light of regional and international sponsorship of what was happening.

During those defining days, when you could smell the panic in the streets of Baghdad where many of its residents packed their belongings and headed south, the future "Hashd" spontaneously headed to the front lines with some not knowing how to carry a gun. The fatwa in Najaf was a sure platform for them, as much as the existential threat played its role in motivating them. The government quickly seized on this extraordinary popular rush and gave it a disciplined framework called the "popular mobilization" [Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi].

Some explained how the new rules of assimilation, which was filled with volunteers, suffered from a great deal of stumbling, confusion and mismanagement; and how hundreds were martyred in the first weeks of the containment of Daesh because of the great ignorance of combat tactics or the use of weapons. However, the convoy was launched in spite of everything. The infrastructure of the resistance factions that was active during the occupation period, before most of them were dissolved in the aftermath of the US withdrawal, played a vital role in terms of organization and combat experience. These factions fell apart. The former Iranian sponsor played a decisive role in reviving it after Tehran took a strategic decision to put its weight behind Iraq - the state and the people - to enable it to independently confront Daesh and thwart the conspiracy objectives behind the invasion.

After that, Iraq and those concerned in the region and the world were on a rendezvous - and over three years - with successive victories recorded by the popular mobilization, where the field effort shifted from the containment and confrontation in the first weeks to the local liberation of the places besieged or addressing threats [Samarra, Amerly, Jurf AlSakhr]. Large-scale operations in which large areas have been identified often include key cities [Falluja, Tikrit and Baiji] and concentrating efforts on them at once to liberate them. Throughout this period, the observers did not record any setback to the operations of the "Hasd". It was enough to announce the intention to liberate a certain area and this area became liberated despite regional and internal efforts made to create obstacles of an exposed political background and sectarian nature to hinder its field movement.

Those who have not seen the actual reality of the "Hashd's" potential, in light of its extraordinary achievements, can be confused, thinking it is an elite force equipped with high-tech equipment and technology. But this is not the truth. The potential of the "Hashd" is very modest according to the adopted military standards, and much of the equipment is borrowed from the Iraqi army, especially armored vehicles and heavy weapons and especially in terms of air, fire or media cover.

This means that its real strength lies elsewhere other than in gear and equipment. It is specifically related to two complementary elements: the ideological motivation of its combat units and the bold command planning based on coordinated and proper work. Even though the foreign advisers - the Iranians and the Lebanese, who were brought by the "Hashd" with the knowledge and approval of the Iraqi government - had an important foundation and operational role in the planning and training, yet the spirit of the courage and boldness displayed by its members stemmed in particular from the state of general mobilization that prevailed in the Iraqi street because of the religious authority's fatwa and cultural characteristics inherent in the popular groups that interacted with this fatwa.

It was this spirit that covered the other shortcomings suffered by the "Hashd" in its first months, in terms of experience and processing. It is what made the political figures, such as Hadi al-Amiri or Abu Mahdi Al-Mohandis, abandon the air-conditioned rooms of the parliament and live like nomads in the fields from one operation to another. This is what formed a moral lever for the rest of the Iraqi forces, whose hesitant performance changed as soon as it felt the presence of the "Hashd" in any of the battlefields in which it participated in.

Al-Akhbar Newspaper, Translated by website team

14-06-2017 | 09:07


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