Iraq PM sacks paramilitary chief who joined rival pro-Iranian bloc
Iraq's Prime Minister has sacked a the head of the powerful Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force after he joined a rival political alliance.
Haider al-Abadi made the announcement in a statement on Thursday amid tensions between the premier and the Shia dominated force, which played a major role in defeating the Islamic State jihadist group.
"Falih al-Fayyadh's involvement in partisan political matters... contravene the rules of neutrality which apply to members of the security and intelligence forces,"
"We have decided to relieve Fayyadh of his duties as national security advisor and head of the Hashed al-Shaabi," the statement said.
A government source told The New Arab's Arabic-language service that move was in reaction to Fayyadh negotiating behind his back with rival Hadi al-Ameri as post-election talks were underway.
"Fayyadh and several lawmakers loyal to him joined the Iran-backed alliance of Ameri and former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. The alliance has been accused of sectarianism and being subordinate to Tehran," the source said.
The source add that police have raided the Hashed al-Shaabi headquarters and ordered several of Fayyadh's aides to stop their work until a new leader is appointed.
Both Ameri and Maliki, who are leading a viral political bloc to Abadi, have fired back at the dismal and warned that it could spark a backlash.
Abadi has struck coalition agreements with Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr, whose political alliance triumphed in this year's parliamentary elections.
Authorities ramped up police presence on the streets of Baghdad, The New Arab's Arabic-language service reported on Thursday.
The Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) auxiliary force was created by the government in 2014, after a call to jihad by the spiritual leader of the Shia community, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani to help in the fight against IS.
The force has been accused of committing serious human rights abuses after they recaptured Sunni-majority areas from IS.