Sinan Adnan and ISW Iraq Team
The legislation of the National Guard Law, along with other conditions, were first demanded by Iraqi Sunni political leaders in exchange for their participation in PM Abadi’s government. The goal behind the demand for this law was to give provinces with a Sunni majority the opportunity to maintain a security apparatus semi-independent of Baghdad. The initial approval of the law by the Council of Ministers is a positive indicator that the government is taking active measures to address grievances of Iraqi Sunnis. Nevertheless, it is important to highlight that further challenges lie ahead of the law; it will most likely involve a great deal of political maneuvering at the CoR before it is agreed upon. It will also likely be edited multiple times to accommodate the demands of different political blocs at the CoR. Despite the fact that the law was initially proposed to address Iraqi Sunni grievances, initial reporting from minster Saman Abdullah al-Dawudi, who is a member of the drafting committee, indicated that the National Guard would also include the “Popular Mobilization.” The government uses the term “Popular Mobilization” to describe both Iraqi Shi’a volunteers and members of the Iranian-backed Iraqi Shi’a militias fighting ISIS. It is unclear at this time if the draft law discusses the future status of Iraqi Shi’a militias. The future status of the militias will almost certainly be a point of contention between militia leaders like Hadi al-Ameri and Qays al-Khazali backed by Iran on one hand; and Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, moderate Shi’a leaders within the political sphere, and the Shi’a religious establishment in Najaf on the other hand. The debate over these issues could stall the law for a lengthy period of time.