Baghdad sees Macron call to disband all militias as interference in Iraqi affairs

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) addresses a joint press conference with Regional Kurdistan Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani (2R) and Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani (L) at the Elysee Palace following a meeting in Paris on December 2, 2017. (AFP / POOL / ETIENNE LAURENT)
Updated 03 December 2017
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Baghdad sees Macron call to disband all militias as interference in Iraqi affairs

BAGHDAD: French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday called on Iraq to disband all militias, including the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU).
“It’s essential that there’s a gradual demilitarization, particularly of the PMU... and that all militias be gradually dismantled,” he said at a joint press conference in Paris with Nechirvan Barzani, prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
The KRG has accused the PMU of committing abuses against Kurds in Kirkuk and nearby disputed areas in the wake of their independence referendum in September.
Baghdad said Macron was interfering in Iraq’s internal affairs, and called for respect for the country’s sovereignty.
“Iraq’s internal affairs are run by constitutional institutions,” said government spokesman Saad Hadithi, adding that the PMU has “become part of the Iraqi security system.”
He said: “The sovereign powers of the federal government concerning the administration of Iraq-related issues and internal affairs must be respected.” He added: “Iraq looks forward to the world’s understanding of the importance of respecting its sovereignty.”
Senior Shiite commander Kareem Al-Nuri told Arab News: “Macron’s statements are a blatant interference in Iraqi affairs. He has no right to tell us what to do.”
He added: “Militias should be dismantled, but the PMU isn’t a militia. Westerners should understand that the PMU has become a legitimate force and is protected by law.”
Pressuring Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi to dissolve it “won’t work,” Al-Nuri said. “Abadi has no authority to dismantle the PMU. This is the authority of the Parliament.”
The PMU was formed after the fall of almost a third of Iraq to Daesh in June 2014. Shiite militia fighters, some backed by Iran, represent the backbone of the PMU, but it also includes tens of thousands of Sunni, Turkmen, Yazidi, Christian and Shabak volunteers.
Iraq’s Parliament in November 2016 passed a law that considers the PMU part of the regular armed forces, under the full authority of the commander in chief.


Archaeologists find mosque from when Islam arrived in holy land

Updated 18 July 2019
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Archaeologists find mosque from when Islam arrived in holy land

  • Authorities estimate the mosquer dates back to the 7th to 8th centuries
  • Rare to find house of prayer so ancient whose congregation is likely to have been local farmers

RAHAT, Israel: Archaeologists in Israel have discovered the remains of one of the world’s oldest rural mosques, built around the time Islam arrived in the holy land, they said on Thursday.
The Israel Antiquities Authority estimates that the mosque, uncovered ahead of new construction in the Bedouin town of Rahat in the Negev desert, dates back to the 7th to 8th centuries.
There are large mosques known to be from that period in Jerusalem and in Makkah but it is rare to find a house of prayer so ancient whose congregation is likely to have been local farmers, the antiquities authority said.
Excavated at the site were the remains of an open-air mosque — a rectangular building, about the size of a single-car garage, with a prayer niche facing south toward Makkah.
“This is one of the earliest mosques known from the beginning of the arrival of Islam in Israel, after the Arab conquest of 636 C.E.,” said Gideon Avni of the antiquities authority.
“The discovery of the village and the mosque in its vicinity are a significant contribution to the study of the history of the country during this turbulent period.”