Popular Army / Jerusalem Army (Iraq)

Country: Iraq
Details of Formation: The Popular Army was founded in 1970 as a militia for the Baath Party.
Details of Termination: After the Gulf war, the Popular Army was disbanded in 1991. In July 1992, the Popular Army was mentioned again and in September 1992 a news source spoke of Saddam remobilizing the Popular Army. The Popular Army is therefore coded interrupted between 1991-02-28 and 1992-07-02. Reports indicate that the Popular Army was succeeded by the 'Jerusalem Army' in 2000. But reports of Popular Army being active exist until 2003. Sources mention different commanders for both groups (Ramadan, Al Rawi), but conservatively not recorded as two separate PGMs. The PGM ceased to be pro-government when Saddam’s government fell in 2003.
Purpose: Initially, the Popular Army’s purpose was to reinforce the party’s control and act as counterbalance to the regular Iraqi Army. In the 1980s, its main purpose became supporting the regular Army in the war against Iran. After it was re-established in 1992, its purpose shifted to confronting political opposition. The Jerusalem Army had the official aim of liberating Jerusalem from Israel, but its real purpose was to control the rebellious youth. It was also used to absorb discarded military officers in order to keep them away from army positions and decision-making positions.
Organisation: In the 1980s, the head of the Popular Army and its commander-in-chief was Taha Yasin Ramadan, the First Deputy Prime Minister. Saddam Hussein also supported the group. The Popular army was supervised by the Baath party. Although theoretically under Baath Party command, the group was subordinate to General Adnan Khairallah, the armed forces chief of staff, according to a source of 1988. Al-Rawi was the chief of staff of the Jerusalem Army. Rammadan was still a commander of the group in 2003, but had become a secondary figure by then.
Weapons and Training: Popular Army members received training by the regular army.
Size: By 1977, the Popular Army had 50,000 active members. In 1980, the militia had close to 400,000 members. In 1982, the group was estimated to reach 500,000 by the end of that year with numbers gradually increasing. In 1988, a news source reports 450,000 men. When the PGM was disbanded in 1991, it had 800,000 members; another news source mentions one million. In 1998, Hussein called for a million volunteers. In 2003, Iraqi authorities said the Jerusalem Army had 6.5 million volunteer members. A news source says that in 2003, there were 150,000 members in Baghdad alone. Another source mentions that the Iraqi authorities claimed a membership of seven million, but that this seize was most likely only propaganda.
Reason for Membership: Officially, membership was voluntary, and many men are reported to have actively sought membership. However, there were also cases of civilians being coerced into membership. In one occasion, Sudanese citizens who had their papers not in order were ordered into the Popular Army. Students and teachers were pressured to “volunteer”. In 2002, civilians were told their money and property would be seized if they left Baghdad, in a move to lessen incentives for citizens to avoid conscription. In 1986, foreign and local employees of the Meridien Hotel were offered money and benefits to join the Popular Army. In 1998, in the wake of the UN-Iraq crisis, Saddam Hussein demanded each clan to make sure its family members joined the popular army for training. In return, the chiefs received weapons and money.
Treatment of Civilians: --
Other Information: The PGM is sometimes also called “People’s Army”. Many Arabs, mainly Egyptians, served in the Popular Army. The Jerusalem Army was also known as Al-Quds Army. Group was a PGM from early 1970 to 1991-02-28 and from 1992-07-02 until 2003-04-09.
References: Information was taken from news sources listed in the PGMD