Militiamen practice their influence whether or not they take up arms. In the absence of the rule of law, residents are increasingly relying on militias to provide security.
Historian Sinan Abdulkhaleq said that this situation brings to mind the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century in Baghdad, where every neighborhood had a “'bad guy' governing its affairs. The 'bad guy' relied on his physical power to instill fear among residents or the 'bad guys' of other neighborhoods. They gradually became a social class that essentially controlled the affairs of the city’s various neighborhoods.”
Reviving the phenomenon of "bad guys" through militiamen, militants and new clerics seems on the face of it a natural reaction to the lack of security and law in large areas of Iraq. On a deeper level, however, and if it proves to be persistent, this phenomenon denotes a recession of the concept of the modern state, which will necessarily usher in regressive social values the modern era has already moved past.
(Militant image via Shutterstock)