Erdogan calls Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi a ‘terror’ organization

A member of Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi militia looks at a car convoy in the desert near the Tal Afar airport. (AFP)
Updated 21 April 2017
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Erdogan calls Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi a ‘terror’ organization

JEDDAH: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has described the Iraqi paramilitary organization Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi as a “terrorist” entity.
In an interview with the Al-Jazeera television channel, Erdogan referred to the group and said: “In the fight against Daesh in Iraq there is something striking. It’s interesting, the Iraqi Parliament says Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi is not a terror group but what is interesting is who is behind this terror group.”
The statement drew an angry response from Baghdad, with the Iraqi Foreign Ministry summoning the Turkish ambassador over the issue.
“The Foreign Ministry has decided to summon the Turkish ambassador in Baghdad to hand him a formal protest note regarding recent remarks by the Turkish president on Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi,” Ahmad Jamal, the ministry’s spokesman, was quoted as saying by AFP.
The Turkish ambassador in Baghdad, Fatih Yildiz, began his diplomatic duty in January.
Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi is an umbrella of armed groups dominated by Shiite militia loyal to Iran.
Erdogan is a reviled figure among many of Iraq’s Shiite parties, who accuse him of having directly supported the emergence of Daesh and of continuing to abet the extremists’ operations.
Political analyst and former US diplomat Ali Khedery told Arab News that he was not surprised by Erdogan’s description of Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi as a terrorist organization.
“Going back to the 1980s, Iran did in fact create these Iraqi Shiite militias,” Khedery said. “It has since continued to train, arm, finance and, in many cases, direct them in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and now Yemen, and potentially the Gulf countries as well. Turkey’s and the Gulf states’ positions on these Iranian-commanded and controlled militias — whether they are under the guise of the so-called Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi, which has been brought under the control of a government umbrella — is that they are terrorist organizations.”
As to why Iran has promoted these kinds of militias, Khedery said: “I believe that it is Iran’s strategic plan, or Tehran’s strategic plan, to reconstitute the ancient Persian empire, which stretched from the Mediterranean all the way to the Indian Ocean through Afghanistan and Pakistan. That means Iran has Arabs, Afghans and Pakistanis dying en masse to advance Persian interests under the guise of Shiite unity. I don’t honestly think that the mullahs in Tehran give a damn about the global Shiite population. They only care about Persia.”
Khedery said the global community should join in the efforts to counter such militias.
“Turkey and the Gulf countries can — and they should — counter them. But I believe that the entire world should come together to counter them because Iran’s regional hegemonic ambitions are a threat to global security and stability,” he said.
“This is a global problem. One of the many reasons Daesh exists is because of unjust rule by Baghdad and Damascus. That rule caused the disenfranchisement of millions of Sunni Arabs, which turned into an insurgency and has been taken advantage of by jihadi groups.”
On why the West is obsessed with the threat posed by Daesh more than that of the Shiite militias, Khedery said: “I share that concern and I share that frustration but I don’t have an answer.”
He added: “I think it is principally because while Shiite radicals pioneered the concept of suicide bombers, namely in Lebanon against the US Embassy and the marine barracks, Americans have a really short memory... The view among the majority is that yes, the Shiite militias and Iranian Revolutionary Guards are a problem but they didn’t blow up the World Trade Center. So we will deal with them later but, in the meantime, the immediate threat is Daesh, Al-Qaeda and other radical Sunni groups.”


EU efforts to save nuke deal ‘not sufficient,’ says Iran’s Zarif

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wants the European Union to do more to save the nuclear deal after the exit of the US. (AFP)
Updated 52 min 20 sec ago
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EU efforts to save nuke deal ‘not sufficient,’ says Iran’s Zarif

  • Several foreign firms have already halted their Iranian operations while they wait to see how talks within the EU will play out.
  • Zarif spoke after meeting with EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete, who has been on a two-day visit to Tehran.

TEHRAN: Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Sunday that European efforts to save the nuclear deal after the exit of the US were not sufficient.

“The cascade of decisions by EU companies to end their activities in Iran makes things much more complicated,” Zarif told reporters.

He spoke after meeting with EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete, who has been on a two-day visit to Tehran — the first by a Western official since Washington announced its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal earlier this month.

“With the exit of the United States from the nuclear deal, the expectations of the Iranian public toward the European Union have increased... and the EU’s political support for the nuclear agreement is not sufficient,” Zarif added in comments carried by state broadcaster IRIB.

Several foreign firms have already halted their Iranian operations while they wait to see how talks within the EU will play out.

French oil major Total said last week it would abandon its $4.8-billion investment project in Iran unless it was granted a waiver from Washington.

Another French energy giant, Engie, said Saturday it would cease engineering work in Iran before November, when US sanctions are due to be reimposed.

“The European Union must take concrete supplementary steps to increase its investments in Iran. The commitments of the EU to apply the nuclear deal are not compatible with the announcement of probable withdrawal by major European companies,” Zarif said.

Canete said he recognized that time was short and that clear measures were needed from Europe to protect investments and oil purchases.

Iran has threatened to resume industrial uranium enrichment “without limit” if its interests are not protected.