Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London on January 22, 2015
Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London on January 22, 2015 © Stefan Wermuth - Pool/AFP/File
Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London on January 22, 2015
AFP
Last updated: February 4, 2015

Iraq cabinet approves national guard bill

Iraq's cabinet on Tuesday approved a draft law on establishing a national guard, a measure aimed at gaining support from the country's Sunni Arab minority.

Sunni backing is key to Iraq's battle against the Islamic State jihadist group, which led an offensive last June that overran large areas north and west of Baghdad, many of them Sunni-majority.

A statement from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's office announced the approval of the bill -- which must now go before parliament -- but did not provide details on its content.

Under a general proposal previously outlined by Abadi, the national guard would be made up of forces from the country's various provinces that would be responsible for local security.

For Sunni Arabs, this would be an significant improvement over the Shiite-majority federal security forces they view as hostile to their community.

But in other areas, the law could further entrench Shiite militias that are playing a major role in the fight against IS, but are also accused of carrying out abuses including extrajudicial killings, kidnappings and extortion.

It also remains unclear how security in mixed Sunni-Shiite areas would be handled.

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