With the US reluctant to put “boots on the ground” in Iraq and Kurdish fighters focused on defending the Kurdistan region; hopes are staked on Shia fighters “liberating” the areas of Iraq captured by ISIS.
The reliance on these militias is seen as particularly crucial, given the almost total collapse of the Iraqi army after the fall of Mosul earlier in the year. In areas where the Iraqi army is still operating, reports consistently portray it as dysfunctional and divided, playing a secondary role to the Shia militias funded and trained by Iran.
The head of Iraq’s powerful Qods force, Qassem Soleimani has recently been on the front lines in Iraq and the Qods Force and Republican Guard are training and expanding these militias, as well as keeping them well supplied with weapons. Hundreds of Iranian Republican Guards are embedded within these militias as “leaders and advisors” according to on-the-ground reports.
As is the case in Lebanon, where Hezbollah are a far better equipped and stronger force than the Lebanese army and in Syria where Bashar Al-Assad is effectively an Iranian puppet kept in place through Iranian financial and military power – these pro-Iran militias are becoming the dominant military entity in Iraq.