Iraqi commander rejects calls to disband popular forces

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Iraq
Monday, 04 December 2017

An Iraqi commander has rejected calls for the disbanding of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), also known by their Arabic name as Hashd al-Sha’abi, which have played a major role in pushing out the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

Ahmad al-Assadi, one of the PMU’s leaders, was quoted by AFP as saying that "any such discussion is rejected and we do not accept interference in Iraqi affairs."

He added, "Asking for the dissolution of the Hashd is like asking for the dissolution of the Iraqi army, because the Hashd [forces] are a key element of Iraqi security."

On Saturday, French President Emmanuel Macron visited Iraq, calling for "a gradual demilitarization" of the forces and for all militias in Iraq to be "dismantled."

Reacting to Macron’s call, Iraq’s vice president and former prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, said in a Facebook posting that "Emmanuel Macron interfered unexpectedly in Iraq's internal affairs by calling for the dismantling of a legal institution, Hashd al-Sha’abi."

"We don't want any country to impose its will on the Iraqi government and the brave Iraqi nation," the leading politician said.

In October, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi strongly defended the Hashd al-Sha’abi after comments by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that militias in Iraq should "go home." The militias are officially controlled by Iraq's prime minister.

Responding to calls by the Western officials, a senior commander of Iraq’s PMU recently said that American military forces must leave his country following the eradication of Daesh. In an exclusive interview with Press TV, Hadi al-Ameri, who heads Iraq’s Badr Organization, said the popular forces would call on the parliament to draw up legislation to demand the US pull out all its troops from the Arab country.

Also in October, a top commander of the PMU had called for the immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq after the elimination of Daesh.

Hashd al-Sha’abi is a group of Shia and Sunni fighters that was formed after the emergence of Daesh in Iraq in 2014. In the early days of the Daesh terror campaign, the then volunteer fighters played a major role in reinforcing the Iraqi army, which had suffered heavy setbacks in the face of lightning advances by the terrorists.

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