In Iraq, Iran-Affiliated Militias That Helped Rout Islamic State Wield Growing Clout by Nabih Bulos – Los Angeles Times
In 2014, as Islamic State militants were seizing large chunks of Iraqi territory and advancing toward Baghdad, hundreds of thousands of volunteers rose to the capital's defense. They joined the Shiite-dominated militias known in Arabic as the Hashd al Shaabi.
Though many of the militias were funded by neighboring Iran, they became a crucial part of the U.S.-led campaign to defeat the extremists.
That campaign all but ended last year with the defeat of Islamic State, but the Hashd is not demobilizing.
Instead, the militias have transformed themselves into a potent government institution, political entity and economic player whose strong ties to Iran are likely to complicate U.S. foreign policy in the region.
The U.S. hopes to isolate Iran by pushing Iraq and other regional governments to stay out of its orbit.
Iran was once a bitter enemy of Iraq. But since U.S.-led forces toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iran has become an important trading partner that wields increasing influence.
A recent study commissioned by the U.S. Army concluded that “an emboldened and expansionist Iran appears to be the only victor” of the U.S.-led invasion…