Iran-backed majority-Shiite militias known as the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) have been gaining influence as they have helped the Iraqi army kick the Islamic State (IS) out of Anbar province. Iraq’s National Security Council recently blessed their participation in the upcoming battle to retake the IS stronghold of Mosul, while Baghdad announced at the end of July plans to incorporate the militias as an “independent” military formation “affiliated” with the Iraqi armed forces.
The House bill gives voice to rising concerns among lawmakers that the Shiite militias not only strengthen Iran’s hand in Iraq but make it more difficult to defeat IS because they often victimize Sunnis. Speaking at the nonprofit Stimson Center in April, House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., said he had recently met with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Baghdad and urged him to rein in the PMU.
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