Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Sunday praised the mainly Shiite government-sanctioned Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) as a “national treasure,” his official website said.
PMU was formed from mainly militia Shiite groups with the participation of some Sunnis, Christians and Yazidis to lend it some credibility.
Khamenei went on to describe PMU as an “asset for the present and the future that should be supported.”
In late November, the Iraqi parliament gave PMU its legal status, making it a “back-up and reserve” force for the military and police and empower them to “deter” security and terror threats facing the country.
Khamenei made his remarks during a meeting with the head of the Shiite Iraqi Islamic Supreme Council Ammar al-Hakim.
The supreme leader said he was delighted to see the formation of an alliance of Shiite groups in Iraq, highlighting the importance of such an event and advising them to “not trust the Americans or be fooled by their smiles.”
The Iranian leader also hailed Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s government, especially its solidarity and support towards PMU.
“The Popular Mobilization forces are a great resource and asset for today and tomorrow in Iraq, and should be encouraged and strengthened,” he said.
PMU previously had acknowledged Iranian funding.
A number of PMU officials also ratified the allegiance of the militias to Tehran, including Hamid al-Jaziri when he said “the popular Mobilization leaders were raised in the arms of the Iranian regime,” the Iranian Press agency Mizan quoted him as saying.
Jaziri also added that PMU considers itself a “state under the jurisdiction of the Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist [Khamenei], and does not recognize borders.”
Al-Jaziri,who is commander of brigade 18 in the PMU, said: “Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, endorsed [commander of Iranian Quds Force Qussem] Soleimani with ‘all the powers,’” adding “the popular mobilization forces considers Soleimani a delegate of Khamenei in Iraq.”
Gen. Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, which is part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, is listed as a wanted “terrorist ” by the United States.
He also played a significant role in the establishment and creation of PMU.
Meanwhile, Iraqi sources revealed that Soleimani is overseeing the formation of a PMU intelligence in conformity with the intelligence service of the Revolutionary Guards in Iran.