This paper empirically examines the internal and external roles of the popular mobilization forces (PMF) or al-Hashd al-Shaabi. First, the paper examines the PMF’s role in the fight against the Islamic State/Daesh and governance in Iraq. Second, it highlights the PMF’s external links with Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. The question of whether the PMF is a tool of expanding Iran’s influence and interventionism across the region is thoroughly scrutinized. The paper examines the role of the PMF in increasing the level of sectarianism and paves the way for protracted social conflict in the region. Rising sectarianism offers a fertile breeding ground for Sunni extremism and radicalism, and lethal anti-Shiaism; feeding into a vicious cycle of sectarian violence. These conditions may shape the genesis of protracted regional social conflict between the two main branches of Islam.
Key words: Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), Islam, conflict.
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