Abuses Loom Large, But Shi’ite Militias’ Absence Felt in Anbar Fighting

Iraqi Military Unable to Hold the City of Ramadi

Iraqi officials have tried to downplay the importance of Shi’ite militias in recent days, as international concerns grow about their tendency to lynch Sunnis in retaken cities, and loot shops.

The massive losses in Ramadi are bringing the Shi’ite militias back into focus, with the lack of such militias seen playing a big role in how quickly the Iraqi military has been overrun by ISIS.

Iraq has been keen to make a push into Anbar after taking Tikrit, but is trying to do it with little support from the Shi’ites.

This has been a problem for Iraq for awhile now, as the reality is they don’t seem to be able to win meaningful battles without the militias doing the heavy lifting, but also don’t seem to be able to keep the militias from carrying out bloody sectarian attacks of their own after they win a battle.

So far, the Iraqi government has tried to take care of this by insisting the reports of abuse are all lies, and promising investigations that never pan out. Even the US has been pushing them to rein in the militias, however, and there seems to be no way Iraq can do that without risking alienating their most important allies on the ground.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. 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.