Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, pictured here on 31 December 2019 attending a funeral for members of the Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary da group

Iraq’s Shiite Militias Modelling IRGC’s Engineering Arm

Friday, 05/26/2023

The Muhandis Company in Iraq is going to model the Revolutionary Guard’s engineering arm with the support of the Islamic Republic.

According to information obtained by Iran International, the Islamic Republic has gained the permits for the establishment of the company in exchange for its support for Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia' Al Sudani to win the office. 

The Muhandis General Company (Sharakat al-Muhandis al-Amma) takes its name from Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the former deputy commander of Iran-backed Shiite militia Hashd al-Shaabi -- also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) -- and a close comrade of former IRGC’s extraterritorial Quds force commander Qasem Soleimani. They were killed together in January 2020 by a US drone strike.

Muhandis was himself a graduate of civil engineering and in the late 1970s joined the Islamic Dawa Party, which fiercely opposed the Baathist government of Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein and led an insurgency against him during the Iran-Iraq war.

Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a commander in the Popular Mobilization Forces, attends a funeral procession of Hashd al-Shaabi (paramilitary forces) members.

According to our sources, the establishment of the company and its growing sway in Iraq’s construction projects has led to the opposition of the Iraqi army and even the Shiite leaders in Najaf. Influential Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr -- who seeks to curb the influence of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Iraqi politics – has once and again called against an Iranian-linked government or a subordinate one in Baghdad.

The Muhandis company seeks to become the Iraqi version of Khatam al-Anbiya Construction Headquarters, IRGC’s engineering and contracting arm. Khatam al-Anbiya Construction Headquarter is one of Iran's largest contractors in industrial and development projects. The IRGC business conglomerate was created during the 1980–1988 Iran–Iraq War to help rebuild the country and has diversified over the years into companies dealing with mechanical engineering, energy, mining, and defense. 

Earlier in May, London-based pan-Arab website Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported that Al-Muhandis company is increasing its work in the field of contracting and infrastructure in the private and public sector through several projects in the capital Baghdad and several other cities, describing it as the Islamic Republic’s effort to create “a parallel state” inside Iraq.

The report claimed that via its growing network, the company aims to provide financial resources to support Hashd al-Shaabi and its affiliated armed factions.

“Some see the establishment of the company as an attempt to replicate the experience of the Revolutionary Guard in Iran, aimed at controlling economic and commercial sectors in Iraq, towards building a parallel economy, under the management of the Popular Mobilization Forces, which gives the group financial independence,” claimed the report.

According to the report, the company was established in November 2022 with a capital of 100 billion dinars ($68.5 million) and it is exempt from paying any taxes.

In March, US-based think-tank The Washington Institute for Near East Policy reported that the company launched its inaugural project -- a commitment to plant one million trees in a large parcel of government-provided land in al-Muthanna province. It said: “The launch event was attended by both PMF chairman Faleh al-Fayyad, a US-designated human rights abuser, and PMF chief of staff Abdul-Aziz al-Mohammadawi (aka Abu Fadak), a US-designated terrorist.”

The think-tank added that Iraqi 'resistance' groups – affiliated with the Islamic Republic -- have long sought a company “with preferential access to lucrative state contracts, and the Sudani government is finally providing them after years of opposition.”

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