Iraqis See US Proposal to Arm Sunni Militias as Attempt to Split Country

Congress Aims to Skirt Law by Declaring Militias 'Countries'

Given the long-standing US intervention in their country, and the myriad different agendas America has had when doing so, there is always a certain amount of suspicion when the US starts talking about new strategies in the country.

That’s doubly true when the US Congress announced earlier this week that it intends to recognize several factions within Iraq, including some Sunni militias, as separate “countries” for legal purposes.

Within the US, this is seen as an attempt to skirt American law and allow direct arms shipments to factions that it is flat out illegal to directly arm. Within Iraq, however, it’s seen as a shift toward the US Congress trying to formally split Iraq.

It’s not so far-fetched, either, as a number of US officials have talked up independence for Iraqi Kurdistan in particular, and the Kurds themselves have designs on secession.

The move is likely to spark an internal battle between Congress and the White House, as it undercuts President Obama’s protestations that he supports a “unified Iraq.” That’s likely minor, however, compared to the sectarian disquiet it will fuel in Iraq, where the US is seem as unpredictable and liable to just carve the country apart on a whim.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of