Iraq: How Iranian-backed militias have become stronger than the government

Reuters reports: The Shi’ite militias, which dominate most frontlines, say they support the government and pose no threat to Iraq’s minority Sunni sect. The Popular Mobilisation Committee, or Hashid Shaabi, as the militias are collectively known, belongs “to the Iraqi government,” said Naim al-Aboudi, a spokesman for the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia. “The Hashid doesn’t represent a sect. It represents all Iraqis.”

But the militias make no secret of their independence from Baghdad. Militia leader Amiri warned in a televised interview last month that if the Shi’ite groups did not approve of U.S. military operations in Iraq, “We can go to Abadi and the government and … pressure them: ‘Either you will do this, or we will do that.’” Amiri did not specify what action his group would take.

A senior Iraqi government official close to the prime minister said the militias operate independently. He said their objectives only sometimes align with Abadi’s: They concentrate on defending areas that are strategically important for their sect.

“If they are not paid by the prime minister,” this official said, “they can do what they want.” [Continue reading…]

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