Published: Sun, September 09, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Unrest intensifies in Iraq as Iranian consulate and oil facility stormed

Unrest intensifies in Iraq as Iranian consulate and oil facility stormed

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Friday night that Iraq's ambassador to Tehran had been summoned to hear protests against the attack by a group of "provoked people" who torched the Iranian Consulate in Basra.

In the midst of the chaos, medical officials and activists say at least 10 protesters died when security forces allegedly opened fire to disperse the crowds.

Abadi said he had instructed security forces to "act decisively against the acts of vandalism that accompanied the demonstrations".

Since early July, Iraq's Shia-majority southern and central provinces, especially Basra, have been rocked by popular protests, which at one point spread to the capital. Two more protesters died during those attacks, local security and health sources said.

Parliament's interim leader summoned lawmakers to an emergency session on Saturday to discuss the unrest.

They trained their hoses on flames still burning at the provincial headquarters, which protesters have targeted with incendiary devices.

The demonstrators left the Iranian consulate after burning it and headed toward the USA consulate, but the security forces cut the roads leading to the consulate, which is already surrounded by the security forces to prevent the angry protestors from reaching it, the source said.

Late Wednesday, a group of demonstrators lit up the municipality building of Basra, according to the local sources.

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The government accused "saboteurs" among the protesters of vandalizing public property, while protesters accuse security forces of using live ammunition to disperse peaceful demonstrations.

Other protesters set tires on fire on main streets and highways, ignoring the curfew imposed by the authorities.

Iraq's most senior Shia figure, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, blamed the unrest on political leaders and called for a new government "different from its predecessors".

But Iraqis remain deeply sceptical as the country remains in a state of political limbo after elections in May.

Many Basra residents blame government mismanagement and corruption for collapsing public services, including the recent hospitalization of thousands of people who drank contaminated water.

Sadr is now vying to form Iraq's ruling coalition in an alliance with incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, his electoral bloc having come first in May's national election.

A coalition led by al-Abadi and populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has the support of the US and Saudi Arabia, while an alliance between former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and militia leader Hadi al-Amiri has the backing of Iran.

In a televised speech on Thursday, Sadr said the prime minister, local officials, and service ministers should attend "to present radical, immediate, and future solutions" or leave their positions "instantly".

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