Iraqi Vice President, Nuri Maliki. AFP file photo
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - Iraq’s Vice President Nouri al-Maliki strongly criticized French President Emmanuel Macron’s call on Baghdad for disbanding Shiite militia groups, chief among them Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi, saying Macron should not “meddle” in internal affairs of Iraq.
Maliki, who still wields immense power in Iraq, slammed Macron saying “France’s constitution enshrines that they should not meddle in the world countries’ affairs. But Emmanuel Macron unexpectedly meddled in Iraq’s internal affairs calling for the dismantling of a formal legal institution, the Hashd al-Shabai.”
In a joint press conference with Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, French President Macron said that he had told the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on October 5 that Hashd al-Shaabi and other militias in Iraq must be disbanded
“When Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited Paris, we declared that all the militias of the Iraqi government must be disbanded and that no militia must stay including the Hashd al-Shaabi,” Macron said, making reference to PM Abadi’s visit to France, according to the official Kurdish translation.
Maliki, who is also head of the State of Law bloc in the Iraqi parliament, said “we do not want any country to impose its will on the Iraqi government and the brave Iraqi nation.”
The former Iraqi premier also urged all the political parties of Iraq to be united and share a common stance in the face of any external “meddling”.
In October, remarks by the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that called on Iranian militia within the Hashd al-Shaabi to “go home” sparked outrage among Iraqi officials.
Iraqi forces supported by the Hashd al-Shaabi entered deadly clashes against the Kurdish Peshmerga for over a week in October when they advanced on Kurdish-held territories in the disputed or Kurdistani areas claimed by both Erbil and Baghdad including the oil-rich Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu.
The Iraqi parliament in November 2016 recognized the Hashd al-Shaabi as an official force with similar rights as the regular army.
The Hashd al-Shaabi was formed upon a call by Iraq’s grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in the summer of 2014.