Monday 21st of September 2020 |
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Macron: Foreign Meddling Main Challenge Facing Iraq




French President Emmanuel Macron pledged support for Iraq on Wednesday and said the main challenges facing the country are ISIS militants and foreign interference in its internal affairs.
"We are here for and we will continue to support Iraq," Macron said at a news conference in Baghdad with his Iraqi counterpart Barham Salih.
Iraq should not become a battleground for proxy conflicts between other states, Salih said.
Macron's visit is the first by a Western leader to Iraq since Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi took office in May, becoming the third head of government in a chaotic 10-week period that followed months of deadly protests.
Kadhimi was selected by parliament in May to head a government that would guide the country towards early elections and has called for one to be held in June 2021. His predecessor Adel Abdul Mahdi quit under pressure from protests against corruption and foreign interference in December last year.
Early elections are a main demand of anti-government protesters who staged months of mass demonstrations last year and were killed in their hundreds by security forces and gunmen suspected of links to Iran-backed militia groups.
Macron’s trip, straight from a two-day visit to Beirut, was not publicly announced until Tuesday evening, with officials in Paris and Baghdad keeping a tight lid on arrangements for security reasons.
"The fight for Iraq's sovereignty is essential," Macron had told reporters on Friday, before departing for Lebanon.
He said Iraqis, who "suffered so much", deserved options besides domination by regional powers or extremists.
"There are leaders and a people who are aware of this, and who want to take their destiny in hand. The role of France is to help them do so," Macron said.
Speaking in Lebanon on Tuesday night, Macron said that he will fly to Iraq to meet top officials. He said he would also discuss the case of French citizens who fought with ISIS, which was defeated in Iraq in 2017. Nearly a dozen French ISIS members have been sentenced to death before Iraqi courts.

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