Iraqi officials disagree on Shia militia

“The participation of Hashd al-Shaabi militia is unacceptable and will further complicate the situation [in Iraq].”

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (K24) – Iraqi Foreign Minister Khaled al-Obeidi announced on Monday that Peshmerga forces will participate in the upcoming Mosul liberation operation.

Before the imminent deployment of the anti-IS coalition-trained 71 Iraqi Brigades near Mosul, Obeidi told reporters, “Peshmerga forces will join the Mosul liberation operation in total cooperation with [Iraqi] security forces and the international coalition.”

“There is cooperation with the Kurdistan Region Ministry of Peshmerga and Ministry of Defense to unite efforts and help defeat the enemy,” Obeidi said, referring to Islamic State (IS).

Obeidi added, “The participation of Hashd al-Shaabi in future fights against Dae’sh [IS] is in the hands of the Iraqi army chief of staff,” using the pejorative Arabic term for the extremist group.

Obeidi's comments echo Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's recent statement on Feb. 20 where he alluded to the seeming fact that US officials do not oppose the Shia militias' involvement. “Hashd al-Shaabi forces will participate in the Mosul liberation operation and there is no pressure from the US in that regard,” Abadi said.

Elsewhere, Atheel al-Nujaifi—former Nineveh Governor and (Sunni) Hashd al-Watani Militia Commander—warned Prime Minister Abadi to prevent Hashd al-Shaabi's participation in the Mosul liberation operation claiming that it will lead to internal divisions in the fight against IS.

Nujaifi, speaking to the pan-Arab al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper on Monday, stated, “The participation of Hashd al-Shaabi militia is unacceptable and will further complicate the situation [in Iraq].”

“Abadi’s call for [Hashd al-Shaabi's] an attempt to gain their trust and to divert the militias’ attention from local internal conflict,” Nujaifi asserted.

Brett McGurk, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter IS, only cited certain groups that would participate in the upcoming operation in a press conference on Tuesday, “Sunni tribes, local forces from Nineveh Province, Peshmerga forces, and the Iraqi army.” Noticeably, he did not mention Hashd al-Shaabi.

"The international coalition against ISIS is pulling all our information and intelligence…coalition warplanes are [bombing targets in] airstrikes against ISIS in Mosul every single night," McGurk added.

“The contribution of Hashd al-Shaabi is a sensitive question for the people of Nineveh...[so this] might lead to political issues later on,” head of Ninevah Provincial Council, Bashar Kiki told K24 last week.

With nearly 1.5 million people still living in the city, Mosul is the second largest region in the country and has been occupied by IS since June 2014.

Reporting by Baxtiyar Goran

Editing by Ava Homa, Benjamin Kweskin and Karzan Sulaivany