Concern over Post ISIS Iraq Landscape

Strategic expert Emir al-Saidi told Al-Monitor, “With the deteriorating political situation in Iraq, the heated conflict over political, social and economic issues, and the intersecting interests of international … forces, armed factions that were outside the national defense frame appeared. They had several names with underlying meanings like fighting the occupier, protecting cities and maintaining the political operations, among others.”

He added, “Some political forces are getting ready for the post-IS [Islamic State] phase and contemplating a strategic plan, either to divide Iraq into statelets or to announce the formation of regions or even secession. We will then witness clear conflicts among the armed forces and perhaps in their own ranks.”

Yahia al-Sunbul, a prominent tribal figure in Anbar province, said in a press statement June 14, “The [PMU] are now stronger than the Iraqi army. To be even more specific, the army and police are both under the control of the [PMU].”

On June 4, the Saudi Al-Arabiya channel broadcast a report showing US officials saying, “The constant weakness of the Iraqi army and reliance on armed militias [the PMU] allied with it might undermine Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s wide-scale efforts to expel IS and gain the support of other Iraqis.”

Some people expect the PMU to be stronger than the Iraqi army and to emulate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The presence of such a competitive large force undermines the work of the army and its movements.

Military expert Majed al-Saidi told Al-Monitor, "The post-IS stage will be marked by several armies in Iraq: the regular army, the [PMU], the peshmerga and Sunni tribal forces. The government should be able to control them, and they should not violate the Iraqi state’s law or fight each other.”

He added, “The Iraqi National Guard draft that should have united all armed groups under one command supervised by Iraq’s Ministry of Defense was not approved due to political disputes. Therefore, the presence of three armed forces with the Iraqi army undermine its influence.”

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