Pro-government militias in Iraq threaten political process

Pro-government militias in Iraq threaten political process
MPs have called on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to disband pro-government militias that are terrorising local residents or resign.
3 min read
15 February, 2015
Abadi has been asked to disband pro-government militias [Anadolu]
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi has been asked to dissolve [Ar] pro-government militias, a senior government source has told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

The Iraqi Powers coalition and the Iraqi National List made the request a day after armed militias abducted MP Zaid al-Janabi and six of his companions including his uncle and his cousin.

     Iraqi civilians are being hammered by Isis and then by pro-government militias in areas they seize from Isis.

- Joe Stork, HRW
Janabi was released after being tortured for hours. The others were shot dead.

The source confirmed MPs from both blocs had demanded that Abadi either dissolves the militias or withdraws from the government and parliament.

MPs said tribes in Iraq's western governorates were threatening to stop fighting [Ar] the Islamic State group (IS, formerly Isis) if the government continued to support the militias created by former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (2006-2014).

MP Badr al-Fahl from the Iraqi Powers coalition said in an emergency meeting on Saturday between the two blocs, that MPs from both sides agreed to suspend their work [Ar] in protest at the crimes committed against Janabi and his relatives.

"A law needs to be passed banning militias and criminalising sectarianism. It should be approved by the government according to Article 9 in the constitution," the two blocs said in a joint statement released after the meeting.

The issue is due to be discussed in an upcoming meeting between the parliament, the presidency, and the head of government.

Pro-government militas are responsible for protecting a large number of army bases and other important facilities in Iraq, including the Green Zone, the interior ministry and the Iranian and Lebanese embassies in Baghdad.

Political and popular circles in Iraq have voiced concern these militias may be getting larger and operating outside the control of Abadi's government.

International organisations have accused them of theft, torture and sectarian murders in the governorates of Diyalah, Anbar, Saladin and Baghdad.

The latest accusations came in a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) released today. HRW said abuses by militias allied to the Iraqi security forces in Sunni areas have been escalating in recent months.

The international human rights organisation said Iraqis have been subjected to kidnappings and forced to flee their homes, while some have been executed.

Residents from Muqdadiyya 80 km northeast of Baghdad in Diyala province, told HRW that security forces and allied militias began to harass them in June, just after IS took control of the Iraqi city of Mosulm, and that the situation deteriorated in October soon after Haider al-Abadi became prime minister.

"Iraqi civilians are being hammered by Isis and then by pro-government militias in areas they seize from Isis," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at HRW.

"With the government responding to those they deem terrorists with arbitrary arrests and executions, residents have nowhere to turn for protection."

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.