Iraq dismisses Tillerson's demands for Iran-backed militias to 'go home'

Iraq dismisses Tillerson's demands for Iran-backed militias to 'go home'
Iraq's Prime Minister has responded to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's remarks that Iran-backed militias should leave Iraq after fighting IS.
2 min read
23 October, 2017
Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abbadi
Baghdad has rejected the US Secretary of State's demand that Iranian-backed paramilitary units, who have taken part in fighting the Islamic State group (IS) in Iraq, exit the war-torn country.

The office of Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi on Monday reacted to remarks Rex Tillerson made while visiting Iraq to discuss Iran's influence in the Middle East.

"Certainly Iranian militias that are in Iraq, now that the fighting against [IS] is coming to a close, those militias need to go home," Tillerson said at a press conference in Riyadh on Sunday.

"All foreign fighters need to go home," he added while he was in the Saudi capital attending a joint Iraqi-Saudi meeting.

His comments were unwelcomed by Baghdad.

"No party has the right to meddle in Iraqi matters," a statement from Abadi's office read. It did not cite the prime minister himself but a source of close proximity to him, according to Reuters.

Following a rare invite to Saudi Arabia in August, influential Iraqi Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr also demanded the Baghdad government disbanded the Hashd al-Shaabi umbrella organisation which is dominated by Iran-backed Shia militias.

The Hashd al-Shaabi is nominally under Abadi's command, but some of its components have for years been sending fighters to support Damascus in its six-year-old conflict against various rebel factions.

Hours after Tillerson's comment, Abadi held talks late on Sunday with Jordan's King Abdullah.

This happened while Sadr met with Jordan's Prince Ghazi.