Heightened Militia Tension in Iraq
Heightened tension between Iran and the United States has caused concern that Iraq would become the arena of conflict. Of particular concern are Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an umbrella organization for primarily Shia militias who temporarily united to combat ISIS.
The PMF remains the primary method by Iraq’s Central Government to provide security to areas formerly occupied by ISIS, including the Nineveh Plains, home to Iraq’s Christians. Many PMF militias are directly supported by Iran. The most prominent military leader in Iran, Qassem Suleimani, recently summoned the heads of all PMF militias to Baghdad.
Sources involved in that meeting said that it was essentially a “call to arms” as a result of U.S. – Iran tension.
Iranian backed militias have a long record of harassing and even sanctioning violent aggression against Christians who have returned to the Nineveh Plains. Many Christians are receiving western aid as they attempt to rebuild their lives following displacement from ISIS. It is unclear how rising tensions between Iran and the west will impact their reconstruction efforts.