These cases highlight not only the helplessness of the authorities, but also their entanglement: in both cases, the perpetrators were known to them. However, in neither case did they try to enforce the law, or charge the perpetrators and declare them terrorist militias, or encourage the victims of the kidnapping to bring charges against the perpetrators so that they could be brought to justice. Instead, the authorities protected the perpetrators against criminal prosecution.

In the end, the victims heeded the threats of their kidnappers and the recommendations of the security forces not to reveal the identity of their kidnappers in order to avoid public unease about the role of the militias in the fight against terror and to ensure their own safety. And so it was that, for the first time, both the authorities and the kidnapped "thanked" the kidnappers for the "favour of having spared the victims' lives".

Militias against society

Above all, the uninhibited and anarchic armament on the streets of Iraq has strengthened a few armed groups that have now become more powerful than the state and the authorities. Their systematic terror is equal in every way to the terror of the so-called "Islamic State" and is perhaps even an extension of it. It certainly encourages this terror by weakening the state.

Car in Iraq bearing the message ″No to sectarian division″ (photo: DW)
No to sectarian division: when it comes to intimidating their rivals, militia groups in particular are happy to indulge in sectarian violence. Moreover, social media has become a hub, both for those seeking to drive a wedge between the religious denominations and for the "online mercenaries", who agitate against any voice that is raised in protest at their destructive agenda in order to silence them. The armed groups, for their part, feel that this agitation is an appeal, entitling them to kidnap or even murder anyone who disagrees with them

However, in order to put a stop to the jihadist terrorist groups in particular, it is vital that the use of illegal weapons from abroad in the fight against terror be stopped, not the other way around. After all, sooner or later, these weapons will be turned on Iraqis themselves – particularly on those calling for a civilian state who are working against the power cartel to which the political parties and police belong.

Weapons are being used to force people to accept these groups′ extremist vision of the world, with the aim of creating a one-dimensional and closed-off society in which people buy into their extremist interpretations of religion – a society divided along ethnic, denominational and geographical lines. Finally, these weapons will also be used to drive civil society and democratic forces out of the cities, so that the dream of securing autocratic rule can finally come true.

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