Iraqi Cabinet approves a bill on the retirement of PMF fighters

Iraqi Cabinet approves a bill on the retirement of PMF fighters

Shafaq News/ The Iraqi Cabinet on Tuesday voted to approve a draft law on services and retirement for the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) fighters, the media office of the Prime Minister said.

"The Cabinet voted in its meeting today on the draft law on the service and retirement of PMF Jihadists," the statement said. 

Iraq's 2023-2025 draft budget included a major expansion of the PMF, the post-2014 security force led by chairman Faleh al-Fayyad, and operational chief and U.S. Abdul-Aziz al-Mohammadawi.  

On May 25, 2023, al-Fayyad revealed that a special PMF Service and Retirement Law was nearing finalization, stating that it would "secure the fighters' rights, positions, and salaries, which will make them permanent employees."

"PMF fighters will be called Jihadists under the new law...PMF will be one of the state's institutions that doesn’t lose its Jihadist description or its religious background," he said. 

A report issued on April 17, 2023, by the Iraqi parliament's Finance Committee stated that the number of PMF personnel increased by 95% in the 2023 budget, from 122,000 to 238,000. Yet PMF disputed those figures claiming that the force's manpower had increased from 170,000 in 2021 (the last authorized budget before this one) to 204,000—which is still a sizeable 20% year-on-year increase (in comparison, the Defense Ministry's manpower is set to be increased by 6% and the Interior Ministry's by 3%).

Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani—the PMF had been content to aim for a registered membership of 160-170,000, and its primary aim was to get about 25-35,000 unregistered fighters on the official payroll.

The force's budget is also growing, albeit not as fast as its membership. From $2.16 billion in the 2021 budget, it will rise to $2.6 billion in the 2023-2025 budget, a 23% increase. This is lower than the 40-95% increase in manpower, probably because some of the additional registered personnel members were previously carried within the budget as unregistered part-timers.

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