Iraqi PM formally submits resignation amid more violence

The grassroots movement is the largest Iraq has seen in decades and also the deadliest. (AFP)
Updated 30 November 2019

Iraqi PM formally submits resignation amid more violence

  • The formal resignation came after an emergency Cabinet session earlier in which ministers approved the document and the resignation of key staffers
  • At least 400 people have died since the leaderless uprising shook Iraq with thousands of Iraqis taking to the streets in Baghdad and the predominantly Shiite southern Iraq

BAGHDAD: Three anti-government protesters were shot dead and at least 58 wounded in Baghdad and southern Iraq on Saturday, security and medical officials said, as Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi formally submitted his resignation to parliament.
Lawmakers were expected to either vote or accept outright Abdul Mahdi’s resignation letter in a parliamentary session Sunday, two members of parliament said.
The prime minister announced Thursday he would hand parliament his resignation on Friday amid mounting pressure from mass anti-government protests, a day after more than 40 demonstrators were killed by security forces in Baghdad and southern Iraq. The announcement also came after Iraq’s top Shiite cleric withdrew his support for the government in a weekly sermon.
The formal resignation came after an emergency Cabinet session earlier in which ministers approved the document and the resignation of key staffers, including Abdul-Mahdi’s chief of staff.
In a pre-recorded speech, Abdul Mahdi addressed Iraqis, saying that following parliament’s recognition of his stepping down, the Cabinet would be demoted to caretaker status, unable to pass new laws and make key decisions.
He listed his government’s accomplishments, saying it had come to power during difficult times. “Not many people were optimistic that this government would move forward,” he said.
He said the government had managed to push through important job-creating projects and improve electricity generation.
“But unfortunately, these events took place,” he said, referring to the mass protest movement that engulfed Iraq on Oct. 1. “We need to be fair to our people and listen to them.”
At least 400 people have died since the leaderless uprising shook Iraq with thousands of Iraqis taking to the streets in Baghdad and the predominantly Shiite southern Iraq decrying corruption, poor services, lack of jobs and calling for an end to the post-2003 political system.
Security forces have used live fire, tear gas and sound bombs to disperse crowds leading to heavy casualties.
Three protesters were killed and 24 wounded in the holy city of Najaf in southern Iraq on Saturday as security forces used live rounds to disperse them from a key mosque, security and hospital officials said.
In Baghdad, at least 11 protesters were wounded near the strategic Ahrar Bridge when security forces fired live ammunition and tear gas to prevent demonstrators from removing barricades. The protesters are occupying part of three strategic bridges - Ahrar, Sinak and Jumhuriya - in a stand-off with security forces. All three lead to the heavily fortified Green Zone, the seat of Iraq’s government.
In the southern city of Nasiriyah, security forces used live fire and tear gas to repel protesters on two main bridges, the Zaitoun and the Nasr, which lead to the city center. Heavy fighting has taken place in Nasiriyah in recent days, with at least 31 protesters killed.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Abdul Mahdi referred to the rising death toll by security forces in his speech.
“We did our best to stop the bloodshed, and at the time we made brave decisions to stop using live ammunition, but unfortunately when clashes happen there will be consequences,” he said.


Soleimani’s successor faces same fate if he kills Americans Iran warned

Updated 16 min 3 sec ago

Soleimani’s successor faces same fate if he kills Americans Iran warned

  • Ghaani promised to “continue in this luminous path” taken by Soleimani

DUBAI: The US special representative for Iran said the successor to Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone strike, would suffer the same fate if he followed a similar path of killing Americans, Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported.

Washington blamed Soleimani for masterminding attacks by Iran-aligned militias against US forces in the region. US President Donald Trump ordered the Jan. 3 drone strike in Iraq after a build up of tension over Iran’s nuclear program.

Iran responded to the killing of Soleimani, who was charged with expanding Tehran’s influence across the Middle East, by launching missile strikes on US targets in Iraq, although no US soldiers were killed.

After Soleimani’s death, Tehran swiftly appointed Esmail Ghaani as the new head of the Quds Force, an elite unit in the Revolutionary Guards that handles actions abroad. The new commander pledged to pursue Soleimani’s course.

“If (Esmail) Ghaani follows the same path of killing Americans then he will meet the same fate,” Brian Hook told the Arabic-language daily Asharq Al-Awsat.

He said in the interview in Davos that US President Donald Trump had long made it clear “that any attack on Americans or American interests would be met with a decisive response.”

“This isn’t a new threat. The president has always said that he will always respond decisively to protect American interests,” Hook said. “I think the Iranian regime understands now that they cannot attack America and get away with it.”

After his appointment, Ghaani promised to “continue in this luminous path” taken by Soleimani and said the goal was to drive US forces out of the region, which has long been Iran’s stated policy.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have steadily increased since Trump withdrew from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers in 2018 and imposed tough news sanctions that have hammered the Iranian economy.

This month’s military flare-up began in December when rockets fired at US bases in Iraq killed a US contractor. Washington blamed pro-Iran militia and launched air strikes that killed at least 25 fighters. After the militia surrounded the US embassy in Baghdad for two days, Trump ordered the drone strike on Soleimani.