Shiite militants of the Hashd al-Shaabi. AP photo
BAGHDAD, Iraq—Members of the Iraqi parliament voted on Saturday to recognize the Shiite paramilitary force known as Hashd al-Shaabi as an official force with similar rights as the regular army.
MPs in the Iraqi parliament told Rudaw that Hashd al-Shaabi will also come under full control of the armed forces.
It will also enjoy the same rights and privileges as the army.
The parliamentary decree also stipulates that members of all of Iraq’s ethnic and religious groups will have the right the join Hashd al-Shaabi and they will be reorganized through the army after the Mosul liberation operation. Currently it is a Shiite force.
Shakhawan Abdullah, a Kurdish MP and member of the parliamentary security and defense committee told Rudaw that introducing the motion in today’s session was in itself not legal “because it has a military aspect and the security and defense committee must discuss and debate it first before it comes to parliament,”
Abdullah said that the motion has been hastily drafted full of errors and needs careful revision,”
The Hashd al-Shaabi was formed upon a call by Iraq’s grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in the summer of 2014 when ISIS captured several Iraqi provinces and he urged civilians to take up arms and fight the radical group against further expansion.
Many Sunni MPs and leaders have since opposed to the existence of the armed group and complained that it is replacing the Iraqi army and has conducted abuses of Sunni civilians in Anbar and Salahaddin.
Abdullah said that his Sunni fellow MPs opposed the motion but some tribal Sunni groups “who have their own armed groups and are supporters of Maliki [former PM] will vote for it as will all the Shiite MPs,”
He added that Shiite and Sunni blocs alike had approached the Kurdish MPs for their support for or against the motion.