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 Updated: January 25, 2016

Iraq summons Saudi ambassador over meddlesome remarks

By: Ismail Zabeeh


BAGHDAD, Iraq: The Iraqi Foreign Ministry has summoned the Saudi ambassador to protest his meddlesome remarks about Baghdad’s campaign against terrorists.

“This constitutes…a breach of diplomatic protocol and is based on inaccurate information,” the ministry said in a statement about Saudi envoy Thamer al-Sabhan’s remarks.

In a televised interview aired by al-Sumeria satellite television on Saturday, the Saudi ambassador claimed that sectarianism and tribalism were the driving force behind the Iraqi government’s arming volunteer forces known as the Popular Mobilization Forces or Hashid Shaabi. He had also alleged that the Iraqi volunteer forces are not popular among Iraqi people.

“The Hashid Shaabi are fighting terrorism and defending the country’s sovereignty and acting under the umbrella and command of the commander-in-chief of the armed forces,” the statement said.

Iraqi Transport Minister Baqir Jabr al-Zubeidi has also strongly denounced Saudi ambassador’s recent remarks, calling them a flagrant interference in Iraq’s internal affairs.

He added that the Popular Mobilization Units have so far liberated at least 170 villages from Daesh militants while hundreds of its forces have been martyred or wounded in anti-terror operations.

In a statement on Saturday, Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units spokesman, Ahmed al-Assadi, described Saudi Arabia as a supporter of terrorism.

Al-Assadi called on the central government in Baghdad to expel Saudi Arabia’s ambassador for instigating sedition and insulting the Iraqi people, saying al-Sabhan has “exceeded all the limits.”

“His comments against volunteer forces, the government, and the majority of the Iraqi people only make Iraq more determined in uprooting terror groups such as Daesh and fighting their supporters and financial backers inside and outside the country,” Al-Assadi said.

The Popular Mobilization Units, which were formed after the rise of Daesh in Iraq in 2014, have joined forces with the army to win back militant-held regions.

Violence has plagued the northern and western parts of Iraq ever since Daesh terrorists launched an offensive, and took control of parts of the Iraqi territory.


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