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Private militias in Iraq: Wikis


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Private militias in Iraq include those known from modern history such as the Mahdi Army, Al-Qaeda and Badr Organization as well as some that have emerged in the post-Saddam period such as the Facilities Protection Service. The term "militias" refers to armed groups that fight on behalf of or as part of the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government, rather than Sunni groups that fight against the government and are generally referred to as "insurgents."


Official statements

Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad states that "the existence of private militias" has loomed as "a persistent problem."[1]

Brett McGurk, Director for Iraq, from the National Security Council has stated, "The Iraqi constitution makes clear that militias are illegal[1] and the new government platform pledges to demobilize militias as one of its principal goals....[The] private militias...purport to enforce religious law through illegal courts. "[2]

U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy has said, "Sectarian violence between Shiites and Sunnis is being fueled by the private militias, is now the biggest threat to stability."[3] Moreover, U.S. Senator John Warner has urged the White House to prod Nouri al-Maliki to empower the Iraqi army to subdue the militias and stated, "It is their job, not the U.S. coalition forces' to subdue and get rid of these private militias".[4]

No martial law

One dilemma has been the imposition of martial law and suspension of civil liberties to bring order and then restore democratic rule. The idea was pondered yet never implemented[5][6] notwithstanding the fact that many of today's democracies have used martial law to bring about an end to anarchy or those who wish to derail the government.

On 29 September 2006, Iraqi official imposed a curfew for two days in Baghdad.[7] As soon as the curfew ended "Sunday morning, new violence killed at least 22 people in Baghdad and elsewhere."[8]. Thereafter, martial law was temporarily extended again.[9]. Later, the curfew was ended.


According to a professor of Middle East politics,"They get some salary, they get a rifle, they get a uniform, they get the idea of belonging, protection from a group." However, he also notes that "People in [Mahdi Army] only get sporadic incomes. It's also very dangerous. You might be fighting another militia, such as the Badr organization, or worse the American army or the Iraqi army."[10] It is stated that Iran is backing the militias.[11]

Iraqi government

Nouri al-Maliki asked political parties to dismantle their militias on 5 October 2006.[12] He also stressed that militias are "part of the government", that there is a "political solution", and finally that they should "dissolve themselves" because "force would not work."[13] He blamed the sectarian violence on "al Qaeda in Iraq".[13] He has also condemned "Saddam Hussein loyalists".[14] Lindsey Graham has said, "You are not going to have a political solution [in Iraq] with this much violence."[15] This has led to growing concerns about al-Maliki's unwillingness to eliminate Shia militias.[16] The Mahdi Army, a group linked to Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, is held responsible for "execution-style killings" of 11 Iraqi troops in August 2006.[17] U.S. officials posit that the militias are a more serious threat to Iraq's stability than the Sunni insurgency.[18] Additionally, U.S.-led coalition troops have been "told hands off Sadr City because Maliki is dependent upon Sadr, the Mahdi Army."[19] However, in late January, Maliki reversed his decision [2].

SCIRI refused to acknowledge own militia, the Badr Organization.[12]

References and notes

See also

Further reading


Publication Date: 25-MAY-04 Publication Title: Periscope Daily Defense News Capsules Format: Online at Description: NEW YORK TIMES—Despite pledges by the U.S. military to disband private militias in Iraq, American officials now seem to be resigned to working with them, the New York Times reports.

The U.S. is engaged in negotiations with several of the main Iraqi militias to merge them with...

External links



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