May 28, 2015 | Quote
Iran-Backed Iraqi Militias Take Charge of Anti-ISIS Battle, Increased Sectarian Strife Feared
Iranian-backed Iraqi militias have claimed that they will lead the Iraqi campaign to free the recently captured Sunni-majority city of Ramadi from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Reuters reported today. The announcement raised fears that such a move will exacerbate sectarian strife even further.
The United States hopes that the Iraqi government can unite Sunnis and Shiites in the fight against ISIS, but the presence of Iran-backed militias could alienate Sunnis in the area, “especially if [the militias] emphasize sectarian aims,” Reuters noted.
A report by Bill Roggio in the Long War Journal on Sunday identified one of the militias involved in the fighting as a United States-designated terror group.
Last week, Jacob Siegel and Michael Pregent wrote in The Daily Beast that the Iraqi government’s fear of “the creation of a capable Sunni force to fight ISIS” is one of the factors that allowed ISIS to take Ramadi. Pregent himself also observed that “Iran needs the threat of ISIS and Sunni jihadist groups to stay in Syria and Iraq in order to become further entrenched in Damascus and Baghdad.” Similarly, Jonathan Schanzer, Vice President for Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, noted after the fall of Ramadi last week that “Iran looks at this as an opportunity for them to come in with their militias and take over.”
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