Iraqi vice president warns of growing power of Iran-backed militias

(The Washington Times) Iraqi Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi, the top government official representing the country’s Sunni minority, on Tuesday denied claims that Baghdad is pressing the Trump administration to directly arm and train the country’s Sunni militias to counter the growing influence of Iranian-backed Shia paramilitaries.

Speaking to reporters after a speech at the Washington-based U.S. Institute for Peace, Osama al-Nujaifi said he had not come to lobby the U.S. government for military support on behalf of Iraq’s Sunni armed groups.

But he also said in his address that the growing firepower of Iranian-backed Shiite militias looms as the nation’s most pressing future security threat now that ISIS has been pushed out of Mosul, Tal Afar and other cities it held in the north.

The Iranian-backed forces “have gained a lot of power, and maybe they can pose more problems,” Mr. al-Nujaifi said.

In meetings with senior State Department and administration officials earlier this week, Mr. al-Nujaifi said he suggested continued American military support for local and tribal groups in the embattled Nineveh province of northern Iraq.

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