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Is the new National Guard the key to unifying Iraq?

Proponents of an Iraqi National Guard envision it serving as a counterterrorism force, bringing militias under state control and helping rid the country of the Islamic State.
Sunni tribal fighters take part in a military training to fight against militants of the Islamic State, on the outskirt of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, November 16, 2014.  Picture taken November 16, 2014.   REUTERS/Ali al-Mashhadani (IRAQ - Tags - Tags: CONFLICT MILITARY) - RTR4EG9J

A wide range of armed forces beholden to different authorities outside the defense and interior ministries are spread across Iraq. This reality was not spawned by the occupation of Mosul by the Islamic State (IS) in 2014, but by the chaos and intersection of various agendas and interests. The current discussion surrounding the formation of a National Guard is an acknowledgment of this reality and an attempt to create a legal framework to control the situation.

Unofficial armed forces have always been a formidable presence in Iraq alongside official forces, even under Saddam Hussein, whose son Uday announced the formation of a force called the Fedayeen Saddam in November 1994. At the same time, the Baath Party had an armed presence that was more influential than the police and also directly linked to Uday. It enjoyed more power than the other security apparatuses.

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