Can Abadi reel in the Hashd al-Shaabi before May elections?

By Paul Iddon, Rudaw

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Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said that leaders of the paramilitaries that make up the Shiite-majority Hashd al-Shaabi will not be allowed participate in the May elections unless they disband, indicating that he intends to exert complete state control over them in the near future. It’s unclear at present, however, if he can do so.

“There must be a clear separation between political and armed groups,” Abadi insisted this month.

With this being the case Abadi may prove unable to fully implement his condition. Any retreat from this precondition in the coming months will be illustrative of the limits of his power as prime minister.

“I am radically skeptical that Prime Minister Abadi is able to disarm the Hashd militias ahead of the elections,” Kyle Orton, a Middle East researcher at the UK’s Henry Jackson Society, told Rudaw English.

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