Middle East Review of International Affairs: Will Iraq’s Shia Militias Give Iran a “Road to the Sea”?

Iraq is a Shia-majority nation and its neighbor Iran is more than 90 percent Shia. Dozens of Shia militias known as popular mobilization units are securing Iraq by controlling territory taken from the Islamic State. The units have established a strategic corridor linking Tehran and Syria. This extends Iranian influence in the region, explains Seth J. Frantzman for the Middle East Review of International Affairs. The advancing militias are expected to try and link with Syrian regime forces – and could encounter Syrian rebels near Jordan and US Kurdish allies in Syria. Frantzman describes this as “a combustible mix” with the United States conducting airstrikes in the area. The militias could also link with Lebanese Hezbollah. The United States and Iran both oppose the Islamic State extremists, but back different sides in the Syrian war. “For the United States, the challenge here is that Iran is quickly filling the void left by ISIS in Iraq,” he concludes. Analysts warned about the region’s demographics before the US-led invasion in 2003 that deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. War contributes to the region’s endless cycle of refugees, poverty, extremism, conflicts and interventions. – YaleGlobal

Middle East Review of International Affairs: Will Iraq’s Shia Militias Give Iran a “Road to the Sea”?

Shia militias in Iraq – linking Tehran, Syria and perhaps Lebanese Hezbollah – are filling a void left with the defeat of the Islamic State
Seth J. Frantzman
Thursday, June 22, 2017

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Seth J. Frantzman is a Jerusalem-based journalist and research associate at the Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya.

Copyright © 2017

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