In addition to al Qaeda and other Sunni extremist groups who have vowed to hunt down Iraqis who have connections to the United States’ , these Iraqis also have to worry about Shia militias targeting them. These militias, most notably the Mahdi army, were responsible for a devastating amount of violence during the worst years of the conflict, and they are still capable of conducting violence even after most have laid down their arms.
The Institute of War and Peace Reporting reports that Sadrist offshoot groups such as Asaib al-Haq (League of the Righteous) did not give up their weapons and are actively targeting U.S. troops. Al-Haq is a group that even Sadr disapproves of, citing that it is full of criminals. Sadr himself retains a specialized armed group called the Promised Day Brigades that still conducts limited operations against U.S. forces and opposes Asaib al-Haq. (For more information on this, check out Niqash’s great article detailing the dispute)
Sadr has also yet to soften his rhetoric and has repeatedly warned that violence would befall U.S. troops if they stayed beyond the date for final withdrawal. Additionally, Sadr has recently stated that those Iraqis who have worked with the U.S. should be treated as “outcasts” and that they should be “boycotted and rejected.”
Iraqis who have worked with the U.S. have expressed their fear that they will be targeted by these militias as the U.S. proceeds with its withdrawal. For all intents and purposes, these Iraqis are besieged on both sides, making their lives a daily hell. There is no future for a person when he or she has to shield themselves from society for fear or prosecution. Many of these Iraqis have applied for resettlement programs, but as the processing of their applications proceed at a snail’s pace many think they are simply counting the days until the militias come for them.