Alavi believes that this group poses an alarming threat for the future of Iraq. “This sectarian group of dangerous armed elements is resorting to any and all crimes with the objective of pursuing Tehran’s policies across Mesopotamia,” he writes.

Established in 2014, the PMU has allegedly taken part in the war in Syria and now, even though they participated in the offensive to retake Mosul from Daesh (ISIS/ISIL), they may pose the most grave of threats for Iraqi.

Alavi says that major concerns about the PMU’s presence and its foreign connections have been raised. Human rights violations and crimes by this group against dissidents in areas retaken from Daesh are alleged and have intensified anxieties about the very nature of the group. The PMU is also accused of launching revenge attacks and atrocities against displaced Sunnis attempting to flee from these areas.

He says, “A strange and disturbing irony lies in the fact that the arms provided by a broad spectrum of the international community are being used for ill purposes.

“Paramilitary militias nominally operating as part of the Iraqi armed forces in the fight against the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) are using arms from Iraqi military stockpiles, provided by the USA, Europe, Russia and Iran, to commit war crimes, revenge attacks and other atrocities,” Amnesty International reported. The alarming statement adds that the PMU “have used those arms to facilitate the enforced disappearance and abduction of thousands of mainly Sunni men and boys, torture and extrajudicial executions as well as wanton destruction of property.”

Additionally, the report highlights “four main militias that Amnesty International has documented committing serious human rights violations: Munathamat Badr (Badr Brigades or Badr Organization), Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (League of the Righteous), Kata’ib Hezbollah (Hezbollah Brigades) and the Saraya al-Salam (Peace Brigades).”

Other international human rights organizations have exposed crimes committed by PMU ranks and files.  “Human Rights Watch and the UN have previously blamed the pro-government militias for perpetrating atrocities against civilians,” Alaraby reported.

In January 2016 HRW warned, “Members of Shia militias, who the Iraqi government has included among its state forces, abducted and killed scores of Sunni residents in a central Iraq town and demolished Sunni homes.”

While such warnings fell to deaf ears, HRW demanded from Baghdad to “prevent militias with records of serious abuses from taking part in planned military operations for the city of Mosul.”

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein cited strong evidence that Kata’ib Hezbollah perpetrated atrocities against a Sunni community.

Adel al-Jubair, the Saudi Foreign Minister, has described this group as extremely sectarian and run by Iranian military officers, one of whom is the Revolutionary Guards Quds Force chief Qassem Suleimani.

In late 2016 the Iraqi Parliament adopted a bill recognizing the PMU as an official security entity, which threw “a wrench into efforts to adopt a national settlement proposal — basically a grand plan to abolish sectarian and ethnic quotas,” stated Al-Monitor.

The law violates the Iraqi Constitution Article 9 that bans the establishment of any militia group not falling under the command and control of the armed forces. The PMU is a force parallel to the Iraqi military, similar to Iran’s IRGC working alongside its classic army, but not part of its structure and framework. Their existence lacks any legality.

“It is an undeniable fact that the PMU pursues the fundamental interests of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, receiving their orders directly from Tehran. The Iranian opposition, itself the target of the Iranian regime’s attacks, has time and again warned of Tehran’s increasing meddling in Iraq,” writes Alavi. 

According to a report posted by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an umbrella group of Iranian dissident organizations including the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) and others, “Commander of Iraq’s al-Hashd al-Shaabi militant group affiliated to the Iranian regime, referring to the possibility that these mobilization forces are present in Syria to help Assad regime for more killings and massacre of Syrian people, claimed that Hashd al-Shaabi could help Syria to get rid of terrorism.” 

While the international community is attempting resolve crises in the Middle East, Alavi says that one necessary step is to bring an end to Iran’s meddling across the region. Maryam Rajavi NCRI President-elect explained, “The regime in Tehran is the source of crisis in the region and killings in Syria; it has played the greatest role in the expansion and continuation of ISIS. Peace and tranquility in the region can only be achieved by evicting this regime from the region.”