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Iraq Could Split if PMF Militias Enter Mosul | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Peshmerga forces advance in the east of Mosul to attack ISIS militants in Mosul. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

Increasingly and at an alarming rate Iraq is more prone to splitting. If Shi’ite paramilitary units get involved in the fight against ISIS for Mosul there is a high risk of partition and the worst sectarian bloodletting since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion , a senior Sunni Iraqi politician said on Monday.

Iran-backed, Popular Mobilization Forces want to play a bigger role in the offensive to regain ISIS’ last major city stronghold in Iraq.

But Khamis Khanjar, also a businessman who financed a 3,000 strong predominately Turkish-trained force known as the Nineveh Guards Force, says it should lead the offensive – alongside the Iraqi army – and take control of the city after the militants are driven out.

“Everyone is looking for salvation from ISIS…but after ISIS is defeated a new dangerous phase will begin if the United States and the government do not address Sunni grievances. This could threaten the future of the Iraqi state,” Khanjar said in an interview in Amman.

“The fear for the future of the country, the threat, is more than any other time.”

The city of Mosul is already ringed to the north, south and east by Iraqi government forces and Kurdish Peshmerga forces and Iraq’s U.S.-trained Counter Terrorism Service breached Islamic State defenses in east Mosul at the end of October.

Khanjar, who has close ties with regional powers Turkey, the Gulf and Jordan and aspirations to lead the Sunni community, said the consequences of PMF units entering the city would be catastrophic

“The fear is the repeat of the same massacres and ugly violations committed by the PMF,” Khanjar said.

International human rights groups and the U.N. Human Rights Commissioner have accused PMF units of abuses against civilians in towns and villages retaken from ISIS.

“They are present in the thousands,” said Khanjar who met the forces and their commanders recently adding their presence would assuage widespread fears of revenge.