A shadowy group within the Iraqi prime minister’s office is secretly pushing a Shiite agenda and exacerbating sectarianism, CNN reports. The 24-member Office of the Commander in Chief has power over other ministries, which Iraqis say it is using to protect militias and blacklist commanders not willing to turn a blind eye to violence.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's staff downplays the power of the Office, as it's known in Baghdad, claiming that the PM approves all its decisions. But detractors worry that the U.S. occupation is the only thing holding it in any sort of check. “It's not a healthy thing to have," an Iraqi army official said.