The proliferation of local militias will amount to another nail in the coffin of the Iraqi national unity dream that US policymakers continue to chase. Could the Iraqi Shi’ites be emboldened by the utter lack of accountability (not to mention its survivial in the first place) that Hizballah has enjoyed thus far? From AFP:
NAJAF, Iraq – The deputy governor of Iraq’s Shia province of Najaf said Tuesday that local militias will boost the region’s security after a recent suicide bomb attack killed 35 people.
“We started today forming a committee in Najaf to choose individuals who will control security in their neighbourhoods and keep an eye on all suspect movements in their areas,” deputy governor Abdul Hussain Abtan told AFP.
It becomes clearer later in the article that “committee” is a euphemism for “militia.”
“This will be done in collaboration with security forces in the city and is the first step in activating popular committees.”
Abtan belongs to powerful Shia party, the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), whose chief Abdel Aziz Al Hakim had called for setting up such committees after the bombing on Thursday.
Last week, Aziz demanded the right to inaugurate the rule of popular committees in areas to give people a chance to defend themselves. His demand was echoed by the movement of Shia radical leader Moqtada Sadr.
Both groups want to form Shia self-defence committees, a move that would undermine the authority of Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki, who has vowed to disarm militias.