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.


Migrant killed during Libya disembarkation: UN

Updated 14 min 22 sec ago

Migrant killed during Libya disembarkation: UN

  • ‘This was tragedy waiting to happen’: International Organization for Migrationspokesman Leonard Doyle
  • IOM demands ‘immediate action ... to put an end to the suffering of civilians in Libya, especially detained migrants’

GENEVA: A Sudanese man was shot and killed Thursday as he and other migrants returned to shore by the Libyan Coast Guard tried to resist being sent back to detention, the UN said.
The International Organization for Migration strongly condemned the incident and demanded that Libyan authorities investigate and bring those responsible to justice.
“This was tragedy waiting to happen,” IOM spokesman Leonard Doyle said in a statement.
“The use of live bullets against unarmed vulnerable civilians, men, women and children alike, is unacceptable under any circumstances and raises alarms over the safety of migrants and humanitarian staff,” he added.
The UN agency said its staff had been on site at the Abusitta Disembarkation point in Tripoli when as many as 103 migrants returned to shore resisted being sent back to Libyan detention centers.
When several migrants tried to run away from the guards, “armed men began shooting into the air,” and one migrant was hit by a bullet in the stomach, according to the IOM staff accounts.
“Despite immediately receiving medical aid on the spot by an IOM doctor and then being transferred to a nearby clinic, he died two hours after admission,” the agency said.
The man’s death, it said, stood as “a stark reminder of the grim conditions faced by migrants picked up by the Coast Guard after paying smugglers to take them to Europe.”
The UN and aid groups have warned that rescued migrants returned to Libya face rampant human rights abuses in both official and illegal centers in the war-ravaged country.
According to the UN, some 5,000 migrant women, children and men remain detained in inhumane conditions in Libya — more than 3,000 of them in areas of active conflict.
In June, an airstrike on the Tajoura detention center killed 53 migrants, including six children.
“That facility remains operational to this day, despite persistent calls to end the arbitrary detention of migrants,” IOM said.
“Alternatives to detention must be found,” it said, stressing that the “increasing reports of abuse and human trafficking from detention centers are truly alarming.”
IOM demanded “immediate action ... to put an end to the suffering of civilians in Libya, especially detained migrants.”