French President calls on Iraq to dismantle all militias

French President calls on Iraq to dismantle all militias

France calls for a constructive national dialogue in Iraq to have a "strong and integrated" Iraq and a "respect for pluralism" in the country's Kurdish region, French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Saturday.

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leaders have accused the mainly Shi'ite Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) of abuses against Kurds in Iraq's ethnically mixed regions that are not part of the autonomous region in northern Iraq.

"And I trust [Iraqi] Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to understand what is in the interests of Iraq and of Iraqi unity".

Disarming the PMF is seen as Abadi's most hard test as his forces edge closer to declaring victory over Islamic State.

Abadi's office released a statement on December 2 saying he had spoken by phone to Macron, who had affirmed France's commitment to a unified Iraq but did not mention his call to dismantle the militias.

Macron, he said, was carrying out "unacceptable interference" in Iraq's internal affairs.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and British Prime Minister Theresa May have both made trips to Iraq after the referendum but only met officials in Baghdad and made no visits to the KRG capital Erbil.

Following the referendum, Baghdad seized control of disputed areas held by the Kurds and imposed a flight ban on the region.

He expressed his support for the "the constitutional rights" of Kurdish regional government, and urged Iraqi central government and the regional government to hold a "national dialogue". "And the last element is that there is full respect for the territorial elements provided for in the Constitution, in particular Article 140", the Macron said.

This led to an Iraqi government offensive, spearheaded by Hashd al-Shaabi in October, following Erbil's independence vote for Kurdish regions.



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