Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has cautioned Hashd al-Shaabi deputy commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis about refraining from not only politicizing the militia but also against restructuring the PMU without obtaining approval from Abadi first — given his status as commander-in-chief of Iraq’s military. The Prime Minister’s directive was issued with oversight from his secretary, Lt. Gen. Mohammed Hamid Kadhim; the directive demands Muhandis adhere to the law. Many feel that the Hashd al-Shaabi have overstepped their reach and are on the verge of becoming a rogue element. The PMU were behind the October 2017 incursion of Kirkuk, as well as several off-the-reservation operations in Syria as of late.

Abadi stated that he has demanded “the annulment of the content of your letter entirely, and the necessity to abide by the law and instructions that stipulate the non-politicization of the Hashd al-Shaabi board.” He also cautioned against the unauthorized restructuring or cancellation of military formations by bypassing the Army “otherwise relevant parties will face legal responsibility. No formations are to be moved except after total coordination with the Joint Operations Command and obtaining the approval of the commander in chief of armed forces.”

The Prime Minister’s orders came down only days after various Sunni aligned Iraqi officials began pressuring Abadis to withdrawal the PMU forces from “liberated” cities and rural territories. On Friday, his office posted to Facebook that, “The Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi stresses the significance of not politicizing Hashd al-Shaabi, adding that the sacrifice stories by Hashd heroes and security forces shall be recorded. At all international conferences and all places, we say Hashd is an institution which is affiliated with the state and the commander-in-chief of all armed forces, and we have stood against all those who have wanted to distort it.” The Prime Minister’s office also tweeted that, “The Constitution and laws prevent confusing security, military, and intelligence work with politics. The evacuation of the Hashd from cities should not be subject to political pressure.”