While we have focused on the Islamic State and its stomach churning tactics to get Iraq under its thumb, the other side also has some secret weapons. The most recent development suggests a lethal Shiite force rising that could be the only hope for Baghdad. Hadi al-Amiri has gone from being a guerrilla fighting on behalf of Iran against his home country, Iraq; to notorious militia leader accused of running “death squads”; to parliament member in Baghdad. He is a key player in the fight against the Islamic State.

Amiri is the leader of the Badr Organization, a Shiite militia infamous during Iraq’s civil war for its brutal tactics. It is now a political party that maintains a military wing. His rise shows that politics in Baghdad is changing. He is unapologetically pro-Iranian and has been focused on building up his network of Shiite loyalists rather than reconciling with his Sunni enemies. He has portrayed himself as a battlefield commander than a politician. Even being pro-Iran, he seems to be loved, but he is in a region that loves bravery. If he can preserve the Iraqi state, then everyone is all for him. Baghdad can deal with his ideological unpleasantness once the IS threat is over.

Following the fall of Mosul, he took his men to the front north of Baghdad, in Diyala province, quickly getting him a series of victories against the Islamic State. Yet, when there is war, there are blurred lines. Reports of graphic abuses have also emerged. Iraqi government and Western security sources claim that Shiite militias tortured and executed a number of captured Islamic State fighters as well as Sunni residents suspected of being sympathetic to the group. The IS has been such a formidable force as it has volunteer recruitments. The Iraqi army on the other hand has suffered from low morale. Badr is such a hope due to its ability to attract volunteers, but as part of the Iraqi sate, funded by the Iraqi government. We’re essentially watching the formalisation of militia rule in Iraq and a war that may never end.