Sunday, January 07, 2018

Unpopular Demobilization Forced

Iraq will try to disarm and reduce the militias that rose up to defend Iraq from ISIL's rapid rise in 2014, but which are not longer needed for defense--and which are a threat to domestic politics now.

Self defense forces are absolutely a valid means to defend a country.

But once the peril has passed, they can become warlord armies that destroy rule of law and normal politics.

And the Shia militias of Iraq (the Popular Mobilization Forces) have the added problem of many being tools of Iran who wants to recreate Hezbollah in Iraq to give Iran a military force to control Iraqi politics.

So this is a very needed effort:

Abadi's plan envisages taking back the militias' heavy weapons and cutting their strength by half, according to military and intelligence sources.

The army is already taking an inventory of PMF weaponry, such as the armored vehicles and tanks the government gave them to fight Islamic State.

Next, Abadi will order his military and police commanders to take back those heavy weapons under the pretext of repairing them. The defense ministry will then remove over-age or physically unfit fighters, two military sources said.

Taking away heavy weapons is good.

But I'd dismiss the young, healthy men first and leave the old guys in uniform.

Iran and their local Shia Iraqi allies will oppose this move. Which highlights how important it is for the Iraqi government to succeed in this demobilization.

We need to back them in the effort.