Dissolving of two Iraqi militias might be imminent

Statebuilding proceeds in Iraq

Drezner notes a WaPo story about a deal that would disarm two major militias in Iraq, the Shiite Badr Brigade and the Kurdish Pesh Merga. Many members of each would be rolled into national police and military forces.

This is a good thing. I wrote last fall about the Badr Brigade, and that we needed to find a way for them to contribute to Iraq’s return to statehood.

Before we know it, the Iraqi people may actually be running Iraq. Then what? Well, besides complete victory, I mean. And US troops coming home by the boatload. Yet some are trying to spin this into another US defeat.


What we want are organized, motivated, and capable security forces that have the respect and blessing of the Iraqi people. These guys may fit the bill. Why don’t we work with them? As happy as many Iraqis are that we’re over there, the sight of US Marines or soldiers marching around can’t really instill any pride into their hearts. Why don’t we see if we can’t use the re-emergence of the Badr Brigade to everyone’s advantage? Let’s offer to train them, which is the type of things that US Special Forces are excellent at. Let’s offer to assist them set up permanent shop. Let’s buy them uniforms or something. Let’s include a Badr Brigade element in our patrols around Najaf. Not only could it ease tensions, but there would be real value in having Iraqi guys with ours as they interact with the populace. This is the sort of thing, if done right, that could become an Iraqi legend in the years to come.


If we’ve got willing people who have the respect of the Iraqi living in the area, we should try to incorporate them into the plan. Maybe a sprinkling of Badr Brigade men into the official police (after background checks) would add some legitimacy to a group that sorely lacks it right now. Maybe a couple of Badr Brigade platoons under police command could be a sort of SWAT force.

This is dangerous ground, of course, since the Badr Brigade has ties to Iranian groups that go back decades. These guys will have to be checked out before they’re sworn in. But I’ve got to think that putting them on the street in an official capacity after organized training is going to pay off big-time.

No one likes to be occupied by a foreign army. And while most Iraqi people are happy to be free of Saddam, it can’t make them proud to know that it was outsiders who freed them. I think that many of the problems facing the nascent Iraqi government are going to have to be solved largely by Iraqis. Iraqi military and police forces still have a war on their hands. We need to support them when they need it, but they are going to have to take on the load.

Demobilizing these militias will lessen the chances of a major internal Iraqi war, and it will strengthen the government’s anti-terrorist forces at the same time. And Iraqis will have a chance to get some home-grown heroes. (via WoC)