LONDON: The UK on Wednesday condemned Iran-aligned armed militias for besieging the Green Zone in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
“Today I spoke to Prime Minister (Mustafa) Al-Khadhimi of Iraq to condemn recent threats by armed groups against the Baghdad International Zone,” Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said in a tweet.
Last week, Iraqi security forces arrested militia commander Qasim Muslih, in a move security sources said was linked to attacks on a base that hosts US forces and on suspicion of orchestrating the killing of a prominent pro-democracy activist amid a wave of murders of activists and journalists that started in 2019.
Following the arrest, unidentified gunmen drove vehicles around the heavily fortified diplomatic quarter, which hosts foreign embassies and government buildings, as a show of force and demanded his release, said a security source who spoke on condition of anonymity
“These militia groups undermine the rule of law and the Iraqi people’s desire for peace,” Raab added.
Today I spoke to Prime Minister al-Khadhimi of Iraq to condemn recent threats by armed groups against the Baghdad International Zone. These militia groups undermine the rule of law and the Iraqi people’s desire for peace.
— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) June 2, 2021
The US on Thursday also condemned the violence and the attacks on protesters.
“The violation of Iraqi sovereignty and rule of law by armed militias harms all Iraqis and their country,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said, two days after two Iraqis were killed during demonstrations by thousands of people in Baghdad.
Another 28 people were injured in the protests, which were held to demand justice over a wave of deadly attacks on pro-democracy activists and journalists.
“We welcome every effort by the government to hold accountable the militias, thugs, and vigilante groups for their attacks against Iraqis exercising their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly as well as for their assault on the rule of law,” Price said.
“The United States is outraged that peaceful demonstrators who took to the streets to urge reform were met with threats and brutal violence,” Price added.
Killings, attempted murders and abductions have targeted more than 70 activists since a protest movement erupted against government corruption and incompetence in 2019.
Since the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein in the US-led invasion of 2003, political parties have controlled life in Iraq and corruption has plagued state institutions.
(With Reuters and AFP)