Kurdish leader: Shiite Militias Could Create Bigger Problems Than Islamic State


Masrour Barzani , Kurdish leaderThe Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council has expressed concern about the actions of the estimated 20,000 Shiite Militias known as Hashdi al-Sha’bi (Popular Mobilisation) involved in the battle for Tikrit.

In an interview with the BBC, Masrour Barzani also expressed anger at the Baghdad government for failing to send the due budget to the Kurdistan Region whilst the militias and other provinces are receiving funds.

“They [Iraq’s government] are paying Mosul, they are paying Anbar, which are under the control of [Islamic State (IS)]. Why aren’t they paying Kurdistan, who is an ally? We are fighting a common enemy, how come we are not getting the appropriate support?”

In regards to the importance of fighting together to defeat IS, Barzani said, “All of us have to together fight [IS]. But if revenge, retaliation between sects or religions, ethnic groups happens, then this will become a much more difficult problem.”

By talking about “revenge”, Barzani was referring to the massacre at Camp Speicher last June. Up to 700 soldiers were executed by IS, most of them Shia, and Shia leaders have vowed to exact revenge.

US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter also expressed concern about the Shia militias and their close ties with Iran. He believes that the presence of Iranian military advisors “is something that is concerning to us in particular because the sectarian danger in Iraq is the principal thing that can unravel the campaign against IS.”