The PMF and its connection to the state continues to confound policymakers inside and outside of Iraq. At the heart of unsuccessful attempts to understand, engage or navigate this dynamic is a fundamental misreading of the nature of both the Iraqi state and the PMF.
The PMF is not a coherent, integrated organization but is instead a series of fluid and adaptive networks connected to power structures within the Iraqi state. Following the territorial defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS), PMF networks developed into significant security, political and economic forces in Iraq.
Understanding the PMF networks and their connectivity to the Iraqi state and society can help policymakers achieve a more coherent strategy that realizes reform and resolves issues in the country’s governing structure.