State Dept Report Faults Iraq on Human Rights Over Shi’ite Militias

Officials not cracking down on militias

The annual State Department human rights report has singled out Iraq for criticism with regard to the nation’s approach, and lack of more complete crackdown against, Shi’ite militias within the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).

The PMF groups are part of the Iraqi security apparatus, but operate somewhat independently. Being Shi’ite militias, the US accuses them of being pro-Iran, and says the government doesn’t control them enough.

A particular problem is the civilian protest movements in Iraq, which seek to elect parties that are not dependent on foreign powers or militias, and sometimes get attacked by the militias. The US report complains the Iraqi government is not bringing them to justice for such attacks.

That’s a fair complaint, as whether the culprits are militias or government forces, crackdowns on protesters tend to happen with impunity in Iraq, and promises of a more thorough investigation, usually offered to end protests, tend to never amount to anything.

Though the State Department report points out problems, it is self-serving to suggest the anti-protest violence is exclusive to pro-Iran militias, or that the US hasn’t been a main beneficiary of the government being reliant on foreign backing.

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.