BAGHDAD - Iraq's foreign ministry has
summoned the Turkish ambassador over an
interview in which Turkish President Recep
Tayyip Erdogan described an Iraqi
paramilitary organisation as "terrorist",
officials said Thursday.
"The foreign ministry has decided to
summon the Turkish ambassador in Baghdad to
hand him a formal protest note regarding
recent remarks by the Turkish president on
the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation),"
ministry spokesman Ahmad Jamal said in a
In an interview to the Doha-based
Al-Jazeera channel, whose Baghdad office was
shut down last year, Erdogan spoke of the
Hashed al-Shaabi, which has played a key
role in the fight against the Islamic State
"In the fight against Daesh (IS) in Iraq
there is something striking. It's
interesting, the Iraqi parliament says the
Hashed al-Shaabi is not a terror group but
what is interesting is who is behind this
terror group," Erdogan said.
Fateh Yildiz started to serve as Turkish
ambassador to Iraq in January this year.
The Hashed al-Shaabi is an umbrella of
armed groups dominated by Shiite militia
loyal to Iran.
Turkey is keen to retain its influence in
parts of northern Iraq and the Hashed al-Shaabi
has ventured ever further north in recent
months, raising concerns that Iran and
Turkey could clash via their proxies.
Erdogan is a reviled figure among much of
Iraq's Shiite parties, who accuse him of
having directly supported the emergence of
IS and of continuing to abet the jihadists'
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has
been under intense pressure from his own
camp over the continued presence in northern
Iraq of Turkish military bases.
For its part, Ankara wants tougher action
against the Turkish separatist Kurdistan
Workers Party (PKK), which it considers a
terrorist organisation and which has bases
in northern Iraq.