Iraqi PMU leader returns as national security adviser

Al-Fayadh has also been nominated to head the country’s powerful Interior Ministry. (AFP)
Updated 19 December 2018

Iraqi PMU leader returns as national security adviser

  • Iraq’s government has been deadlocked as politicians spar over appointments for several key ministries, including the interior and defense

BAGHDAD: The former head of Iraq’s Iran-linked Popular Mobilization Units returned to his dual posts as chairman of the militias and national security adviser to Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, ahead of a Parliament session to consider new Cabinet appointments Tuesday.
Falih Al-Fayadh retook his seat at a meeting of Iraq’s National Security Council on Sunday after he was sacked from his positions by caretaker Prime Minister Haidar Abadi in August for political behavior.
Al-Fayadh has also been nominated to head the country’s powerful Interior Ministry, which has been under the control of ministers close to Iran since 2010. His nomination has been opposed by the political bloc of populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr, which says it wants to limit outside influence in Iraqi politics.
Iraq’s government has been deadlocked as politicians spar over appointments for several key ministries, including the Interior and Defense.
Abdul Mahdi was confirmed as premier in October without a full Cabinet after Parliament approved just 14 of 22 ministerial posts.
The Parliament is slated to again consider the rest of the Cabinet nominees on Tuesday, though expectations for a breakthrough are low.
The Popular Mobilization Forces were formed in 2014 to stop the advance of Daesh militants through Iraq. They include several militias funded and trained by Iran.

Syria’s Kurds criticise Damascus ‘threats’

Syrian Defense Minister Ali Ayoub, above, said the government is determined to return the Kurdish-led areas. (AFP)
Updated 17 min 9 sec ago

Syria’s Kurds criticise Damascus ‘threats’

  • Syrian defence minister made the remarks during a press conference on Monday
  • SDF said the remarks expose the government’s divisive plans

OMAR OIL FIELD, Syria: Syria’s Kurds have criticized the “threatening language” of the Damascus regime after it pledged to retake northeastern areas they control by reconciliation or by force.

The minority have largely stayed out of Syria’s war, instead carving out a de-facto autonomous region across a large swathe of northern and northeastern Syria.

That region is held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces who have been battling the Daesh group with backing from a US-led coalition.

Syrian Defense Minister Ali Abdullah Ayoub on Monday said his government would recapture all areas held by the SDF “in one of two ways: a reconciliation agreement or... by force.”

In a statement late Monday, the semi-autonomous administration slammed his comments.

“The Syrian defense minister’s statement regarding the SDF... reflects the continuation of the racist and sterile policy that has led Syria to this disastrous situation,” it said in a statement.

“The use of threatening language against the SDF who have liberated and protected the north and east of Syria from terrorists only serves those forces working to divide Syria,” it said.

US President Donald Trump’s announcement in December of a pullout of all US forces from Syria shocked the Kurds and sent them grappling to mend fences with Damascus.

Dialogue between both sides has been ongoing, but has failed to bear fruit.

Damascus rejects Kurdish self-rule and wants a return of government institutions to oil-rich SDF-held areas.

The Kurds want protection from a long-threatened Turkish offensive, but seek some form of decentralization from Damascus.

“The autonomous administration... stands by its position of the need for a solution and dialogue within the Syrian framework for all pending issues,” the Kurdish authorities said.

“But we want all sides to know that we, while choosing the political solution, we will spare no effort in the legitimate defense of our rights if necessary,” he said.

Eight years into a war that has killed more than 370,000 people, the Damascus regime controls almost two-thirds of the country after a series of victories against rebels and jihadists.

But the SDF-held region, a northwestern jihadist bastion and border areas held by Turkey’s Syrian proxies remain beyond its control.