By Simon Kent.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi faces new political pressure over the payment of salaries for the 100,000 strong Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) or Hashd al-Shaabi, as they are known in Iraq.
The Hashd al-Shaabi were formed last summer after a call from the holy figure Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani, to defend Iraq from ISIS as the Iraqi army nearly collapsed. There are now multiple Hashd groups, with varying degrees of loyalty to the government. Some fight alongside the Iraqi army, others are more independent and almost entirely supported by Iran.
The new pressure comes from Hashd leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a US designated terrorist and well known Iran loyalist, and his political ally from the Badr Organization Hadi al-Ameri. They claim to need advance payment and more money for an additional 50,000 fighters in order to defeat ISIS, something the government denies is necessary.
Discussions are ongoing.