MESOP MIDEAST WATCH: For The First Time, Iran-Backed Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) Reveals Maritime Forces

Request Report MEMRI  June 16, 2022

On June 14, 2022, to mark the eighth anniversary of the founding of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), a Telegram channel affiliated with the Iran-backed Shi’ite militias in Iraq, shared a two-minute video clip produced by the Iraqi Aletejah TV channel titled “The Popular Mobilization Units Holds A Display Of Its Maritime Forces On The Anniversary Of Its Establishment.”

The video includes “images displayed for the first time” and presents a simulation of the conquering of a fortified target on a beach, in broad daylight.

The video begins with the softening of the fortified target, which is situated on a beach, by means of firing rockets from the sea. It later depicts the landing of frogmen and infantry forces on the beach via speedboats and water motorcycles, while the forces on the maritime craft assist those who are storming the target on the beach and conquering it by shooting providing cover. The forces appear to be armed with personal weapons, machine guns, and anti-tank launchers. The PMU was established in June 2014 by a fatwa issued by Iraq’s most senior Shi’ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, to combat the ISIS incursion into Iraq. The PMU’s various units under different leaders attracted primarily Shi’ite elements from the central and southern Iraqi provinces. From the outset, Iran’s Qods Force took over the financing and training of these units, under the overall leadership of slain Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani.[1] On December 30, 2018, the organization announced its intention to create a “maritime Regiment,”[2] and declared that it was about to complete the organizational preparations for its establishment.

[1] See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1529, Iran’s Trail Of Political And Economic Chaos: Part I – The Iraqi Experience, September 1, 2020.

[2], December 31, 2018