Iraq summons ambassadors over comments on deadly protests

Iraq summons British ambassador and three others after support for protest movement
2 min read
09 December, 2019
The Canadian ambassador said that the state should not allow 'armed groups with special agendas' to roam free.
Four ambassadors have been summoned by Iraq's foreign ministry on Monday after they penned a letter condemning a weekend attack in Baghdad that left 20 anti-government demonstrators and four police officers dead.

Ambassadors Dr Ole Dieh (Germany), Jonathan Wilks (UK) and Bruno Aubert (France) had met with caretaker premier Adel Abdel Mahdi on Sunday, where they reportedly said in a statement that "no armed group should be able to operate outside of the control of the state".

The Canadian Ambassador Ulric Shannon added that the state should not allow "armed groups with special agendas" to roam free.

In response the ministry said it had summoned all four envoys for their "unacceptable intervention in Iraq's internal affairs".

Thousands of Iraqis gathered in the streets of Baghdad on Monday to mourn the death of a prominent activist Fahem Al-Tai, who was gunned down the previous evening.

The city experienced one of the worst spikes of violence in weeks, with gunmen killing 24 people in the capital and injuring over 130 early on Saturday.

The unknown attackers raided crucial protest sites and attacked a parking complex near Tahrir Square, prompting thousands to flee the deadly attacks.

Witnesses said gunshots were fired in the dark from a building towards Al-Sinek, where security forces were stationed, and reports that government security forces nearby did not intervene were met with fury.

On Friday US secretary of state Mike Pompeo announced sanctions on Qais al-Khazali, Laith al-Khazali, and Hussein Falil Aziz Al-Lami, all three of which are part of the Shia paramilitary force Hashed Al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF).

The continued violence comes a week after parliament accepted prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi's resignation.

Sadr was in Iran at the time and his spokesperson told AFP: "This is a clear attack that could kindle a war - maybe a civil war - in Iraq."

The country has been rocked by months of youth-led protests over corruption in the ruling class, poverty and unemployment.

At least 452 people - the majority of which are protestors - have died and 20,000 have been wounded since the rallies erupted over two months ago.

Demonstrators are calling for the resignation of the government and dissolution of parliament, and for a complete overhaul of a political system which has been in place since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

Infograph about Iraq protests
[Source, World Bank/AFP]