Status Update: Shi'a Militias in Iraq


Violence in Iraq today pales in comparison to the bloodshed of only a few years ago. Enemy networks including both al-Qaeda-Iraq (AQI) and Shi’a militias have been seriously degraded by Iraqi and U.S. operations; however, extremist organizations continue to seek to destabilize the country, weaken the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), and undermine confidence in the Iraqi government by continuing to conduct attacks across the country.

As the United States draws down its forces, Iraqi and U.S. officials must keep a close watch on the activities of enemy groups that can bring back sectarian violence and undermine the progress to date. While Sunni terrorist groups such as AQI are responsible for most of the ongoing attacks, Shi’a militia groups still pose a threat.

These groups are well-organized, well-trained and well-funded, making them a considerable long-term threat to the future of Iraq. Shi’a militias in Iraq are largely organized into three main groups: the Promise Day Brigade, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, and Kata’ib Hezbollah. These groups kept a relatively low profile during the first half of 2010. Yet, they remain armed, funded, and trained and can be easily radicalized and mobilized. According to a quarterly report published by the military, “Shi’a militant groups have not renounced armed violence and continue attempts to reestablish networks despite arrests and disruptions." All three groups have received Iranian assistance and their operational success can be easily translated to Iranian gains.

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