Iraqi militia demands heavy weapons from government

Iraqi militia demands heavy weapons from government
An Iraqi militia leader has threatened street action, as Kurds say they are ready to coordinate with militias - but bar them from Kurdistan.
2 min read
19 November, 2015
Popular Mobilisation militias are fighting alongside the regular Iraqi army against IS [AFP]
The leader of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia in Iraq has demanded Bgahdad provides heavy arms to enable his group to fight the Islamic State group.

Qais al-Khazali has threatened street action if there were no increase in the Popular Mobilisation militias' share of the 2016 budget. Popular Mobilisation is an umbrella organisation of which Asaib Ahl al-Haq is a member.

His group needs armoured vehicles, he said, to achieve quick victories and minimise losses.

Khazali said that if the government refuses to answer these demands, his militia would "mobilise the masses".

The US and other Western countries have refused to allow any weapons intended for the regular Iraqi army to be transferred to the Popular Mobilisation militias.

This puts Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in an awkward position, torn between opposing domestic and foreign pressures.
     This leaves Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi torn between opposing domestic and foreign pressures

In November, Akram al-Kaabi, leader of Harakat al-Nujaba, one of the Iranian-supported Popular Mobilisation militias, said on two separate occasions that the organisation would overthrow the government "if a religious authority decides".

Meanwhile, Masoud Barzani, the president of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, said in an official statement that the Kurds were ready to coordinate with the Popular Mobilisation forces in the fight against IS.

However, Barzani said he would not allow them to control the town of Tuz Khurmatu in Salahuddin Province "because it is part of Kurdistan and there is no place for the Popular Mobilisation in Kurdistan".

Barzani's statement came after an aide to Jalal Talabani, the head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, said the Popular Mobilisation had recently entered Tuz Khurmatu - with Barzani's knowledge.

On November 12, clashes between the Kurds and Popular Mobilisation militias in Tuz Khurmatu left seven people dead, including civilians.