Iraq summons Saudi envoy over Shiite militia comments

Baghdad, Jan 24 (IANS) Baghdad on Sunday summoned the Saudi envoy to protest his comments on Shiite militia forces fighting the Islamic State group, which were deemed as an interference in Iraq’s internal affairs.

An Iraqi foreign ministry statement said that the government-backed paramilitary Shiite units, known as Hashd Shaabi, are fighting terrorism and defending the country’s sovereignty, and works under the government umbrella as they are led by the Commander-in-Chief of Iraqi armed forces, Xinhua reported.
The ambassador’s remarks “represent interference in Iraq’s internal affairs and are based on inaccurate information,” Ahmed Jamal, spokesman for the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, was quoted as saying.
Saudi Ambassador Thamer al-Sabhan told al-Sumaria TV in an interview on Saturday night that “Kurds and Anbar residents reject the presence of Hashd Shaabi on their territories, which shows that the (Shiite) units are not accepted by the Iraqi society.”
“Do the Iraqi government accept the presence of Suni units like the current Shiite ones with the same arming? And why only the Hashd Shaabi can take up arms?” he wondered.
He also said that the militias that carried out mass killings and bombed Sunni mosques in the town of Maqdadiyah in Iraq’s eastern province of Diyala “are no different from Daesh (IS in Arabic) organisation.”