In January 2020, the US took the significant step of assassinating Iranian general Qassim Soleimani and leader of Iraq’s Popular Mobilizations Forces (PMF) Abu Mehdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad.
One year on, with the PMF still part of Iraq’s security landscape and its leadership structure more complex and opaque than before, it is clear the move did little to improve matters. In this sense, the assassination is only the most recent in a long line of failed international responses to Iraq’s fractured security situation that have been based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of PMF groups and how they relate to the state.
A new Chatham House paper, Networks of Power: the Popular Mobilization Forces and the State in Iraq provides insight into the operations of these groups and argues that the common misreading of the PMF as a coherent, integrated organization that operates outside of the state has hindered policymakers’ efforts to reform both the PMF and the security sector more generally.
At this webinar, a panel of experts and senior policymakers explore the paper’s findings in the context of recent developments in Iraq and discuss the potential for more effective domestic and international policy interventions based on an understanding of networks of power in Iraq.
Safa al-Sheikh, Former Deputy National Security Advisor, National Security Council (NSC) 2004-2018; Consultant, NSC and Al-Nahrain Center for Strategic Studies
Renad Mansour, Senior Research Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme; Director, Iraq Initiative, Chatham House
Denise Natali, Director, Center for Strategic Research, Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University
Moderator: Toby Dodge, Professor of International Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science; Iraq Research Director, Conflict Research Programme; Associate Fellow, Chatham House