Iraq’s Paramilitary Groups: The Challenge of Rebuilding a Functioning State

TitelIraq’s Paramilitary Groups: The Challenge of Rebuilding a Functioning State
Typ der PublikationReport
Untertitel / SerientitelMiddle East Report N°188
InstitutionInternational Crisis Group

Iraq’s three-year battle against the Islamic State (ISIS) empowered an array of armed actors that operate autonomously from state security forces. As the country’s focus on security decreases, these paramilitary groups – the Hashd – are moving into economic activities and politics; some of their leaders gained seats in the 12 May parliamentary elections.

Praised for their auxiliary role in fighting ISIS, and partly legalised, the Hashd challenge the state’s cohesion and monopoly on legitimate violence. Without a plan to integrate them into formal state institutions, they could undermine post-ISIS efforts to build a functioning state and prolong Iraq’s four decades of instability.

The Hashd are part of the challenge of rebuilding a state dismantled after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Iraq’s next government should proceed incrementally: separate security actors from politics and economic activity; provide a short-term role in reconstruction; and strengthen security ministries to render them less dependent on semi-autonomous armed groups.