Why some Shiites want Distance from Iran

Amiri’s statements angered clerics in Najaf, because they contradicted the reality that the militias comprising the PMU began forming after a call by Sistani on June 13, 2014, for Iraqis to take up arms in the wake of IS' capture of Mosul on June 10. Maliki's role consisted of his administration bringing the PMU under some sort of government supervision to coordinate action with the Iraqi national army.

Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Peace Battalion, one of the largest PMU factions, sarcastically dismissed Amir's statements, saying, “Maliki’s alleged Popular Mobilization Units, if they exist, do not represent me or Iraq,” highlighting the division in the organization.

The Iranian Fars News Agency published a news brief accompanied by an image of Maliki at his house welcoming Qasem Soleimani, the leader of the Iranian Quds Force, for iftar on June 29. Several PMU leaders were also invited. On July 3, Sky News Arabia, citing Iraqi sources, reported that Soleimani had allegedly proposed to Abadi that command of the PMU be given to Maliki. There were no corroborating reports of such a proposal having been made.

Ultimately, it seems, the Shiite division in Iraq revolves around how to organize relations with Iran in terms of pursuing Iranian agendas and building relations with Tehran based on mutual interests as well as Iraqi values and interests.

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