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Militias Persevere in Modern Iraq

Militias have been a feature of Iraqi politics and society since the founding of the modern state, writes Mushreq Abbas.
Kurdish Peshmerga troops are deployed on the outskirts of Kirkuk, some 250km (155 miles) north of Baghdad December 3, 2012. Iraq's Kurdish region has sent reinforcements to a disputed area where its troops are involved in a standoff with the Iraqi army, a senior Kurdish military official said, despite calls on both sides for dialogue to calm the situation. Picture taken December 3, 2012. REUTERS/Ako Rasheed (IRAQ - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY CIVIL UNREST) - RTR3B6TV

Militias have always been in Iraq, and they comprise an integral part of modern Iraqi history. They have been prevalent among both state authorities and their opponents. The very definition of Iraqi political parties, particularly after the republic was founded in 1958, is tied to the idea of military wings, assassin groups, secret security attachés and their resistors.

In other words, 2003 wasn't the year militias were discovered in Iraq. Before April of that year, the most recent iterations of Iraqi militia were the foreign combatants employed by the authorities under the name “mujahideen” to fight American forces. Those were preceded by “Saddam’s Guerrillas” and ultimately split into new, ambiguous militias as a result of the American presence in Iraq.

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