Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is visiting Baghdad on Monday, and Prime Minister Hayder Abadi is none too happy with his weekend calls for Iraqi Shi’ite militias to leave Iraq, a call he said was necessary because the ISIS war is over.
Abadi, himself a high-ranking member of one of the militias, the Badr Brigade, rejected Tillerson’s comments, praising the militias as the “hope of Iraq,” and saying they ought to be encouraged instead of opposed.
The US has had a strange relationship with Iraqi Shi’ite militias, viewing them as allies during the 2003 invasion, terrorists during much of the occupation that followed, and in the course of the ISIS War, they were allies up until the moment they crossed the border into Syria, at which point they became militants.
Under Iraqi law, the Shi’ite militias are formally organized under a government ministry as an auxiliary to the military. The militias are largely aligned with different Shi’ite political factions, The militias were heavily involved in fighting ISIS, and have participated in early fighting between the government and the Kurdish Peshmerga.