Sunni Politician’s Abduction Raises Question of Who Controls Shiite Militias

Kidnapped by One Shi'ite Militia, Rescued by Another

Questions about Iraq have mostly centered on the ISIS takeover of the west, and the Kurdish moves toward secession, but even the stability of what remains of Maliki-ruled Iraq is in doubt, as government policy is turning Shi’ite militias loose nationwide.

In Baghdad this weekend, the problem was laid bare for all to see, when Riyadh Adhadh, the head of the Baghdad Provincial Council, and a top Sunni, was kidnapped by the Shi’ite militia from Sadr City.

Adhadh, along with his entire team of bodyguards were hauled off by a militia, and it was only after Prime Minister Maliki ordered a second, bigger Shi’ite militia to go to Sadr City to recover him that he was finally freed.

Adhadh was lucky to be a high-profile enough victim that Maliki personally intervened to free him, but other Sunni Arabs aren’t so lucky, and with various Shi’ite militias roaming the streets in the position of a quasi-military and quasi-police force, who is in charge and what the rules are is no longer obvious.

In a nation where the Iraqi police are already openly engaged in summary executions of Sunni detainees, it is hard to believe that the police are now the least of Sunni civilians’ worries, but with Shi’ite militias growing, that seems to be the case.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.