Meanwhile, the United States wants to play an active role in determining the future of the PMU and facilitating the demobilization or integration of the remaining PMU units into the Iraqi security forces in order to manage its power, as it might influence US interests in Iraq. The integration of the PMU into the existing security forces under the Defense Ministry and the Interior Ministry would prevent the buildup of strong institutions outside of the governmental structure, akin to the Iranian Basij.
The United States is concerned that the PMU may turn into a Hezbollah-type proxy of Iran, potentially escalating regional rivalries by antagonizing regional powers such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
Thus, the post-IS governance of Mosul — and the contribution of each of the involved forces in the distribution of power — appears likely to be the biggest challenge ahead. One of the possible scenarios is that Mosul will return to its pre-IS status, with the Iraqi central government assuming full authority over Ninevah province.
Both Baghdad and Tehran support this scenario, although Sunni Arab communities and Kurds do not and believe that reverting to the previous situation will not solve security problems. Koushki said the favored US scenario is to turn Ninevah into a Sunni region like the Kurdistan region. He said the more serious US presence in Iraq in recent years shows that Washington’s purpose is to weaken the Iraqi central government and influence Baghdad’s political landscape.
How Iran might respond to the latter remains unclear. The University of Tehran professor added, “While Iran advocates Iraq’s territorial integrity, it will support the decisions of the Iraqis.”