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The Role of Iraq’s Shiite Militias in the 2018 Elections

Shia militias banded together under the banner of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) are key participants in Iraq’s upcoming national and provincial elections. Since Iraq’s constitution prohibits militias from participating in the elections, these outfits have sought to establish political parties. Baghdad has found it difficult to absorb these militias into the state’s armed forces. However, it will need to contend with these groups, which could enter parliament and the government. This policy brief provides an analysis of these various PMF factions and their electoral platforms.

The main takeaways are:
• Multiple Shiite parties are competing to benefit from the PMF’s reputation in Iraq’s upcoming elections, hoping to translate field victories into political

• While Washington remains optimistic about Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi offering effective leadership, the premier appears to be stuck between Muqtada al-Sadr and Hadi al-Amiri, two main Shiite leaders whose popularity is on the rise.

• U.S. policy makers should actively support Iraq’s efforts to establish an integrated, nonsectarian national army and support Iraqi state institutions to lessen the chances of Iraq splitting apart.


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