November 29, 2019- Iraq apologizes for attack on Iran consulate
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said Friday he would submit his resignation to Parliament, a day after deadly protests and following calls by Iraq’s top Shia cleric for lawmakers to withdraw support.
In a statement, Abdul Mahdi said he “listened with great concern” to Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s sermon and made his decision in response to his call and in order to “facilitate and hasten its fulfillment as soon as possible.”
“I will submit to Parliament an official memorandum resigning from the current prime ministry so that the parliament can review its choices,” he said. Abdul Mahdi was appointed prime minister just over a year ago as a consensus candidate between political blocs.
The statement did not specify when he would tender his resignation. Parliament is due to convene on Sunday.
The Islamic Dawa Party called for Parliament to convene immediately and choose an alternative government, in a statement.
The announcement came after weeks of anti-government unrest in which around 400 demonstrators said to have been killed and the country careered toward a serious escalation of violence. Protesters were out to decry corruption, poor services and lack of jobs. Security forces have used live fire, tear gas and smoke bombs to disperse crowds.
Ayatollah Sistani said Parliament, which elected Abdul Mahdi’s government, should “reconsider its options” in his weekly Friday sermon delivered in the holy city of Najaf via a representative.
“We call upon the House of Representatives from which this current government emerged to reconsider its options in that regard,” Ayatollah Sistani said.
Forty protesters were reportedly shot dead by security forces in Baghdad and the southern cities of Najaf and Nasiriyah on Thursday, in a sharp escalation of violence that continued Friday.
Three protesters were shot and eight wounded in Nasiriyah when the demonstrators attempted to enter the city center to resume their sit-in, security and hospital officials said.
Ayatollah Sistani also said protesters should distinguish between peaceful demonstrators and those seeking to turn the movement violent, following the burning of an Iranian consulate building in Najaf on Wednesday that government officials say was perpetrated by saboteurs from outside the protest movement.
The protesters took down the compound's Iranian flag and replaced it with an Iraqi one.
Iraq's foreign minister apologized to Iran after protesters set fire to the Islamic Republic's consulate in the holy city of Najaf.
Mohammad Ali al-Hakim told his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif during a phone call on Thursday that Baghdad was committed to protecting Iranian diplomatic missions and their staff in the Arab country.
Police and civil defense first responders say the consulate had already been evacuated of its staff.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi condemned the attack earlier on Thursday and urged the Iraqi government to “take responsible, decisive and effective action against destructive agents and aggressors.”
He said the Iraqi government was responsible for protecting Iranian diplomats and missions, adding, “Iran has officially communicated its strong protest to Iraq’s ambassador in Tehran.”