Iraqi PM takes a gamble with move on Iran-backed militias

In this Tuesday, July 2, 2019 photo, motorists pass by a Popular Mobilization poster in Baghdad, Iraq. The Iraqi government’s move to place Iranian-backed militias under the command of the armed forces is a political gamble by a prime minister increasingly caught in the middle of a dangerous rivalry between Iran and the U.S., the two main power brokers in Iraq. Facing pressure from the U.S. to curb the militias, the move allows Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi to portray a tough stance ahead of a planned visit to Washington. It is unlikely, though, that he would be able to rein in and neutralize Iran-supported groups and he risks coming off as a weak and ineffective leader if he doesn’t. The Arabic sentence on the poster reads, “the Popular Mobilization is Iraqi and will last.” (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

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BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq’s move this week to place Iranian-backed militias under the command of the armed forces is a political gamble by a prime minister increasingly caught in the middle of the rivalry between Iran and the U.S, the two main power brokers in Iraq.

Facing pressure from the U.S. to curb the militias, the move allows Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi to demonstrate a tough stance ahead of a planned visit to Washington. It is unlikely, though, that he will be able to rein in the powerful Iran-supported militias, and he risks coming off as a weak if he doesn’t.

Besides having built credibility as an effective force against the Islamic State group, the mainly Shiite militias are a significant political force, with government ministers and 48 seats in the 329-member parliament.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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