At the start of March 2018 Prime Minister Haidar Abadi issued a decree giving the Hashd al-Shaabi the same pay and benefits as the Iraqi army. Previously, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki created the Commission for the Popular Mobilization Forces in June 2014 to give the Hashd formal backing. Then in February 2016, Abadi passed Executive Order 91 making them an independent group within the Iraqi Security Forces under the Commander In Chief. These were all meant to bring this paramilitary force into the Iraqi state.
In turn, the Hashd are now acting like any other arm of the government. After Abadi’s decree for instance, a spokesman for Asaib Ahl Al-Haq said there were 140,000 Hashd fighters, not the 120,000 the government claimed. The point was the Hashd want more positions, which means more influence and patronage to be handed out. This is how the political parties run their ministries and Iraq in general. Groups like Badr already have cabinet members, and Asaib Ahl Al-Haq has a member of parliament. Many of the Pro-Iran groups are also running together in the May elections for the assembly as well. This will make them more integrated into the official apparatus, something many of the groups aspired to all along. They can maintain their organizations, now backed with the largess of the state.
Al Journal, “Al-Obeidi: 18,000 members of the popular crowd are not registered with the government,” 3/10/18
- “This is the difference between the popular crowd law and the order of Abadi,” 3/13/18
Mansour, Renad, Jabar, Faleh, “The Popular Mobilization Forces and Iraq’s Future,” Carnegie Middle East Center, 4/28/17
Reuters, “Iraq’s Shi’ite militias formally inducted into security forces,” 3/8/18