Iraq's Shiite Militias in Anbar

Most of the factions opposed to the al-Bu Nimr tribe's invitation to the Shiite militias are those who have expressed an intention to remain neutral in the conflict. They will protect their own territory, they say, and they will defend it if attacked. But they won't support the IS group and nor will they support the Iraqi government, which they mistrust.

At the same time as Shiite militias have entered Anbar, reports indicate that at least some of the 1,500 US military advisers sent to Iraq by US President, Barack Obama, will also be headed here – and possibly to the same Ain al-Asad airbase. Which means that the Iran-backed Shiite Muslim militias must be interacting with the Americans.

Some analysts have suggested that there is now a race on between the US and Iran to see who can wield the most influence on the ground in Iraq – and if it isn't a race, then it is certainly cooperation, whether tacit or implicit.

Shiite Muslim militias have gained some important victories recently, most notably in Tikrit and Jurf al-Sakhar. On the other hand, much of the action against the IS group has only been possible because of the air cover provided by the US-led international alliance.

The US has also put in a lot of work trying to win the support of Sunni Muslim tribes in the Anbar province – this is something Iran, being a Shiite Muslim-led theocracy, cannot do.

Information from inside Iraq's security forces says that there are now a number of tribes working directly with Washington, especially on intelligence: their information is behind the success of US air strikes on the IS group.

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