The United States has returned sovereignty to a new government in Iraq, but power on the ground remains in the hands of local and regional militia, according to a new report by the Washington Institute.
"If current trends continue, the future Iraqi central government will
not hold a monopoly on the use of force, but will instead be challenged by
strong regional militias and a broad base of smaller local militias
operating without any government mandate," the report said.
The report said that more than a year after the fall of the Saddam
Hussein regime, militias still dominate much of Iraq. The majority Shi'ite
community was said to contain 130 militias, Middle East Newsline reported.
Kurdish and Shi'ite
militias are expected to control the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps in their
regions. The report said the ICDC, responsible for counter-insurgency and
paramilitary missions, will require the militias for recruitment and
"Although the ICDC may eventually absorb old militias, it will take
vigilance and time to ensure that the old chains of command do not remain in
place," the report, authored by defense analyst Michael Knights, said.
"Realistically, the ICDC will remain largely under the control of the same
local leaders as the old militias for some time to come."
Entitled "Militias and the Monopoly of Force in Transitional Iraq," the
report traced the development of the ICDC and other Iraqi security forces.
The ICDC was said to have a strength of about 25,000, with plans to achieve
a force level of 40,000.
So far, the force has been employed to man checkpoints and provide
interpreters during raids by U.S. military and other coalition troops. ICDC
members are recruited locally and do not deploy outside their base area.
The report said a large percentage of the ICDC consists of members of
Kurdish peshmerga, the Shi'ite Badr Brigades or tribal forces. Badr is the
military wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq
"Hence, ICDC forces in the Iraqi Kurdish region would likely pay as much
attention to instructions from their former peshmerga colleagues and other
Kurdish officials as they would to orders from their superiors in Baghdad,"
the report said.
"Similarly, SCIRI is likely to influence the ICDC in the south given the
large number of defense corps personnel there who once served in the Badr
Knights recommends that ICDC commanders be trained in the United States
to help mold the force into one responsible to the central Baghdad. Another
recommendation was that ICDC headquarters in Iraq assume responsibilities
for recruitment, training and command.
In Baghdad, former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and 11 of his top
aides were arraigned before an Iraqi judge Thursday. Saddam, 67 is charged
with crimes against humanity, including genocide committed between July 17,
1968 through May 1, 2003. Saddam rejected the charges against him telling
the court "this is all theater, the real criminal is Bush.''
In Washington, the Pentagon announced that Gen. George Casey has taken
over military operations in Iraq as of Thursday.
Casey, a four-star general and former U.S. Army vice chief of staff replaced
Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez. Sanchez served over a year as commander of 160,000
U.S. and international troops of Combined Joint Task Force-7.