DETERRING NON-STATE ACTORS: APPROACHES TO DETER THE POPULAR MOBILIZATION FORCES (PMF) IN IRAQ
Aldowsary, Nasser M.
Hafez, Mohammed M.
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Since its creation in 2014, the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) has played a critical role in Iraq’s political, security, and social environments. Working concurrently with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) promotes its role as a regional actor within the Iranian Threat Network (ITN). Moreover, the PMF’s asymmetric activities create a deterrence trap in which responding or binding to self-restraint results in undesired outcomes. This research intends to describe the deterrence trap against the PMF and seeks approaches to stable deterrence. The research argues that creating change in the deterrence social structure can result in defusing the deterrence trap. The research finds that dismantling the conflict’s complexity, building shared deterrence knowledge, and minimizing the PMF’s ability to influence Iraq’s security, political and social environment can diminish its advantages. It suggests three policy options for deterring the PMF. The first option is through understanding the PMF’s internal factionalism. Exploiting the PMF’s sub-militias’ competing interests may enhance the fragmentation of the PMF. Secondly, strengthening the Iraqi security forces outside of the PMF is necessary to balance against militia forces. Finally, continuing to endorse deterrence by denial and punishment vis-à-vis enforcing legal and financial accountability on the PMF’s activities.
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