Published: Mon, September 10, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Iraq parliament to hold emergency session after Basra burns

Iraq parliament to hold emergency session after Basra burns

It remained shut on Friday, local officials and security sources said, although oil exports, carried out from offshore platforms, have not been affected.

Protesters also attacked a headquarters of the Iran-backed Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq militant group and set fire to its building in Bareiha area in central Basra, incurring heavy gunfire from the group's fighters, the source said.

Abadi is ready to attend a parliamentary session "alongside relevant ministers and officials to discuss the situation and the needs of dear Basra province and the adopted measures to relieve the suffering of its people and provide them with the best services", read a statement from his office Thursday afternoon.

Protesters entered a water treatment facility linked to the West Qurna 2 oilfield, managed by Lukoil, and held two Iraqi employees hostage on Friday, according to a Lukoil source and a source with Basra's energy police.

Hundreds of protesters on Thursday night set fire to a government building as well as the offices of Shiite militias.

Protesters are angry over electricity outages during the hot Iraqi summer, a lack of jobs and proper government services and corruption.

Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs blamed the Iraqi government, calling it "responsible for security oversight leading to attack on its consulate", according to the Iranian government's Press TV.

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And the representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, spiritual leader of Iraq's Shiite majority, in his Friday sermon denounced "the bad behaviour of senior officials" and called for the next government to be "different from its predecessors".

Mehdi Al Tamimi, head of Basra's human rights council, said nine demonstrators have been killed since Tuesday in clashes with security forces as anger boils over after the hospitalisation of 30,000 people who had drunk polluted water.

The protests come at a time when the Iraqi government is in transition after inconclusive parliamentary elections in May that have left basic services in the war-torn country hard to administer.

Local residents say the government is corrupt and has allowed infrastructure to virtually collapse in the region that generates much of Iraq's oil wealth.

Politicians must present "radical and immediate" solutions at the meeting or step down if they fail to do so, he said.

Parliament convened for the first time on Monday, but failed to elect a speaker as mandated, delaying its next meeting to September 15.

Sadr, the former leader of an anti-American Shisectarian militia who has reinvented himself as an anti-corruption campaigner, has allied himself with Abadi.

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