EU delegation visits Baghdad amid Iraq's political deadlock

EU delegation urges Iraq to end violence against protestors, enforced disappearances
3 min read
24 December, 2019
EU officials met Iraq's interior minister, calling for an end to violence against protesters. Unrest is growing once again, as parliament missed its deadline to name a new prime minister.
Protests have once again engulfed Iraq after weeks of calm [Getty]

A European Union delegation in Iraq on Monday called on Baghdad to end violence against demonstrators and take action against abductions and enforced disappearances.

Officials from the EU and its various member states met with Iraqi Minister of Interior Yasin al-Yasiri, before issuing a statement on Twitter.

The statement said the delegation had made a “strong plea to end violence against protestors and to act firmly against killings, abductions, and enforced disappearances.” 

More than 500 people have been killed in Iraq's anti-government protests, while thousands of others have been injured. Rallies have continued despite a campaign of intimidation that has included targeted killings and abductions of activists, which the United Nations blames on militias.

The UN, as well as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW), have urged Iraqi authorities to take immediate action to end the bloodshed and exercise restraint in dealing with protestors.

After weeks of relative calm, Iraq was the site of major demonstrations once again on Monday.

Thousands of protestors blocked road across and burnt tires across the south of the country, in condemnation of  political leaders who again missed a deadline to agree on prime ministerial candidate.

Read more: Iraq protests resume as political paralysis deepens

Schools and government buildings were closed, as protestors declared civil disobedience campaigns in various southern cities, including Diwaniyah, Nasiriyah, Kut and Amara.

Popular outrage against the current political deadlock is intesifying after negotiations over a candidate to replace Adel Abdul Mahdi, who resigned in the face of the protests, fell through.

The deadline for Iraq’s parliamentary bloc to name a candidate, as outlined by constitution, had expired last Thursday prior to its extension until Sunday.

In Baghdad’s Tahrir square, the heart of the mass protest movement, hundreds repeated the chant “No to Eidani, no to Abtaan, they have all stolen from us”, categorically rejecting all candidates from within the political establishment. 

In Nasiriyah, thousands gathered at central Al-Haboobi square, blocking a major intersection in the city. According to The New Arab’s Arab-language sister site, protestors burnt images of candidates, while others announced hunger strikes until protestor demands were met.

A pro-Iran camp has tried to impose a candidate, Qusay al-Sahail, who served as a higher education minster in the government of Abdel Mahdi.

A former member of Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr’s movement, Suhail rejoined the State of Law alliance of former premier Nuri al-Maliki, who is close to Iran and an enemy of Sadr.

Along with demonstrators, Iraqi President Barham Saleh has rejected Suhail’s candidacy.

Pro-Iran faction and parliament speaker Mohammed al-Halbusi continue to push for his candidacy.  

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