Iraq gives militias official status despite abuse claims

The Washington Post reports: The Iraqi parliament passed a law Saturday making militia units, including ­Iranian-backed groups accused of human rights abuses, an official part of the country’s security forces.

Lawmakers passed the measure 208 to 0 in a session that was boycotted by most Sunni politicians, who opposed an initiative that extends the influence of powerful Shiite groups that many Iraqi Sunnis view with suspicion.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi praised the law, saying that it gave due to fighters who had proved themselves a key part of Iraqi defenses since the onslaught by Islamic State militants in 2014.

“Those heroic fighters, young and old, need our loyalty for the sacrifices they have made,” a statement issued by Abadi’s office said. “This is the least we can do.”

But the measure, which also legitimizes smaller Sunni tribal groups that have fought alongside Iraqi forces since 2014, threatens to inflame sectarian tensions that could surge anew after the defeat of the Islamic State. It could also complicate Iraq’s military cooperation with the United States and other Western partners. [Continue reading…]

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