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Iraq PM 'pledges to rid cities of militias within a year'

Iraq PM pledges to rid cities of armed groups within a year: Sunni coalition
2 min read
15 February, 2023
Iraq's government has continuously been called on to take action against the presence of militias in the country.
Many militias remain active in Iraq, torn by decades of conflict and political crises [Getty/archive]

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shia al-Sudani has pledged to remove armed factions from Iraqi cities and residential areas within the next year and relocate them to military camps, sources have told The New Arab’s sister site.

Sudani made the "reassurances" a week after he held a closed-door meeting with Khamis Al-Khanjar - the head of the Sovereignty Alliance - and a number of lawmakers from majority Sunni cities in northern and western Iraq, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported Tuesday.

Parts of Iraq's north and west are still plagued by instability and a low-level insurgency by the Islamic State (IS) group.

The Sovereignty Alliance – the largest Sunni political force in the country – told the prime minister of ongoing human rights abuses in these regions and the urgent need to put a stop to these violations, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported.

They urged Sudani to end the presence of all armed groups outside of state control and allow military and police forces to take charge, one source told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

Since becoming prime minister in late October after a year of political deadlock, Sudani has vowed to solve the problem of armed group presence within cities, among other pressing issues in the war-torn nation.

"Sudani promised to end the presence of the [armed] factions in a period between six months to one year from now," and said that his government "has started building camps for the factions outside the cities, and they will be transferred after the completion of their construction," according to the sources.

The Sovereignty Alliance said they would create a follow-up committee to oversee the government’s implementation.

It was not clear what purpose the military camps would serve, and whether or not any of these armed groups would be completely dismantled.

One of the strongest armed groups in Iraq is the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), or Hashd al-Shaabi, an Iran-backed Shia paramilitary umbrella organisation. The PMF played a crucial role in battling IS, but many of its factions have also been accused of committing grave human rights abuses.