Macron Calls on Iraq to Dismantle Iranian Militias

French President Emmanuel Macron urged the state of Iraq to disassemble all militias – including a military force supported by Iran – and open a dialogue with the Iraqi Kurdish leaders to lessen the tensions in a recent press conference.

“France calls for a constructive national dialogue to engage in Iraq” Macron said on December 2, at a joint press conference with the Iraqi Kurdish leaders, including the Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani. “It is essential that there is a gradual demilitarization, in particular of the [Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces] that established itself in the last few years in Iraq, and that all militias be gradually dismantled.”

The leaders of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have cast blame on the mainly Shi’ite and Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) of using violence against the Kurdish people in Iraq’s ethnically mixed regions.

This does not include the September 25 invasion, by Iraqi forces and the PMU, of the autonomous region in northern Iraq which forced the Kurds to leave the areas and allowed Iraq to capture a major oil field that they passed on to Iran. They invaded after the Iraqi Kurds held an independence referendum, which Iraqi leaders called illegal.

The Iraqi government has denied that the PMF, which it supports, has been engaged in violence against the Kurds.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s office stated on December 2, that Abadi had spoken to Macron, who had confirmed France’s commitment to a unified Iraq but did not raise the subject of dismantling the militias. However, Iraq’s Vice President Nuri al-Maliki, a former prime minister, called Macron’s comments, “unacceptable interference” in Iraq’s internal affairs.

“These positions from France are absolutely rejected and harm Iraq’s sovereignty and its institutions,” he said.

However Iraq reacts to Macron’s call, this is far from the first time that France has stood to oppose the Iranian Regime on its interference in the Middle East and its ballistic missile programme since Macron assumed the post.

In early November, Macron announced that he would strongly oppose Iran’s ballistic missile program and its malign influence in the Middle East. In the meantime, the French Foreign Ministry noted that France was taking seriously the U.S. concerns over Iran’s violations of two UN Security Council resolutions and called on the Iranian Regime to comply with all its international commitments.

“We take these American indications seriously and attach utmost importance to Iran’s compliance with all of its international obligations, including the weapons’ transfer bans provided for in UN Security Council Resolutions 2216 and 2231,” Alexandre Georgini, deputy foreign ministry spokesperson said.

In October, Macron urged the international nuclear inspectors to ensure Iran’s strict compliance with the nuclear deal.