Middle East

Iraqi armed groups link disarmament to US withdrawal, formation of new government

Iraq’s Hashd Al-Shaabi paramilitary forces, on Friday, said the armed factions would hand over their weapons after a new government is formed and US forces withdraw from the country, Anadolu News Agency reports.

Iraq has been experiencing a political crisis since the results of the parliamentary elections were announced at the end of last year.

Disagreement among political groups in parliament has led to a deadlock, preventing the election of a new president and the formation of a government.

Shia cleric, Muqtada Al-Sadr, the leader of the Sadrist movement whose party won the last parliamentary elections, said recently that disarming Shia factions not supervised by the State would be  key in including a group of Shia parties known as the Coordination Framework in a new coalition government.

The Coordination Framework is an umbrella of Shia parties pushing Al-Sadr to accept their participation in the next government, based on a sectarian quota system. Al-Sadr has, however, insisted on forming a “national majority” government.

“In principle, this (Al-Sadr’s) proposal was approved,” Falih Al-Fayyadh, head of the Hashd Al-Shaabi, said in an interview with the local Al-Sharqiya TV network.

READ: Explosive remnants kill, maim 519 children in Iraq: UNICEF

Al-Fayyadh said the factions want a new government and the withdrawal of US forces from the country in exchange for handing over their weapons.

The Hashd Al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilisation Forces, is an official institution operating under the office of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Iraq and Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.

Recent months saw a spate of attacks targeting US-led coalition convoys in central and southern Iraq.

The attacks came after a threat by Iran-affiliated Iraqi armed factions to target foreign forces in the country.

Washington accuses Iran-backed Iraqi groups of being behind the attacks, an accusation denied by Tehran.

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