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France President Macron calls for Iraq militias to be disbanded

Macron met the Iraqi-Kurdistan prime minister and deputy in Paris [AFP]

Date of publication: 2 December, 2017

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France President Emmanuel Macron has called for Iraqi militias to be disbanded during a meeting with Kurdish leaders who remain threatened by the pro-Baghdad paramilitary forces.

French President Emmanuel Macron has called for controversial pro-government Iraqi militias to be disbanded, during a meeting with Kurdish leaders in Paris.

The comments follow October’s offensive by pro-Baghdad militia coalition Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Forces) into Kurdish-held regions of northern Iraq, leading to the fall of former Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani.  

"It is essential that there is a gradual demilitarisation, in particular of the Popular Mobilisation that established itself in the last few years in Iraq, and that all militias be gradually dismantled," Macron said.

The mostly Shia militia alliance has been key to the Iraqi government's fight back against the Islamic State group.

But their campaigns have been marred by accusations of war crimes and human rights abuses against Sunni-Arab and Kurdish civilians.

Many are also concerned about the huge influence and power the Hashd al-Shaabi wields and that Iran's connections with these militias has handed Tehran control of Iraq.

This led to an Iraqi government offensive, spearheaded by Hashd al-Shaabi in October, following Erbil's independence vote for Kurdish regions.

Macron has looked to shore up support for the KRG by meeting Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and his deputy Qubad Talabani.

He called for "constructive dialogue" between Erbil and Baghdad to end the crisis, which has seen the Iraqi government enforce a blockade on the Kurdish territories.

Macron also called for a referendum in disputed Iraqi territories - now held by the Shia militia force - such as the oil-rich Kirkuk region.

Agencies contributed to this story.

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