Engaging with PMU “Necessary to check Iran’s Influence in Iraq”

By Ali Hashem for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.

The war for Mosul has come to an end; the city is freed and the Islamic State (IS) is out. But the reverberations of the monthslong battle will likely impact Iraq as a nation and the region for years to come.

In fact, the war that started after IS’ occupation of Mosul in June 2014 wasn’t merely a war for a country that was partly occupied by a group seen by all regional and international players as a serious threat to global stability.

There was another parallel battle silently going on between the two faces of Iraq: that of Iraq following the US occupation that began in 2003 and that of post-Arab Spring Iraq that began taking shape in early 2011.

When Mosul fell into the hands of IS, few thought that it would eventually be liberated by Iraqi fighters. The fact is that Iraq didn’t have a real army despite billions of dollars spent training tens of thousands of soldiers; the latter did not have any impact on the strength and discipline of the armed forces.

Later, it was a shock for many to discover that 50,000 troops were “ghost soldiers” who received salaries and gave a portion of them to their senior officers and in return did not show up for duty, enriching their commanders and sabotaging the army, paving the way for what happened in the summer of 2014.

It wasn’t only the army that was in tatters; the government in Baghdad was another symbol of corruption. Iraq ranked 170th out of 175 countries and territories on Transparency International’s ranking (in 2016, Iraq improved to 166th out of 176 countries and territories). Tens of billions of dollars went missing during the past 13 years. Therefore, it wasn’t a surprise to many observers to see the country collapsing in the face of a few thousand ideological fighters who managed to reach the outskirts of Baghdad. The question on everyone’s mind, however, was: Who would address the mess?

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