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Iraq Crisis (2014)
Iraq army wields a double-edged sword in enlisting Shiite militias
Iraq army wields a double-edged sword in enlisting Shiite militias

Signs and banners drape the fences and electricity poles of Baghdad in a tapestry of religiously iconographic red, black, yellow and green. Most depict young Shiite Muslim men, replete with military uniforms, stern expressions and slogans extolling the bravery of the fallen. "They are on the path of victory!" declares one poster. "Whoever possesses the spirit of martyrdom is undefeatable," promises another. The placards function as pictorial obituary and recruitment drive, not for the Iraqi army, but for a dizzying array of Shiite-dominated paramilitary groups, known collectively as Hashd al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilization, that augment government forces in the...

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