JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia joined a torrent of global condemnation on Sunday after an attempt to assassinate Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.
Al-Kadhimi escaped unhurt after three explosives-laden drones targeted his residence inside the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad. Two of the drones were intercepted and destroyed but a third hit the building and detonated, injuring six members of the prime minister’s personal protection force.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry said the attack was a “cowardly terrorist act,” and the US offered assistance with the investigation. “I strongly condemn the terrorist attack targeting the residence of Iraqi Prime Minister Kadhimi,” US President Joe Biden said.
“I am relieved the prime minister was not injured and commend the leadership he has shown in calling for calm, restraint, and dialogue to protect the institutions of the state and strengthen the democracy Iraqis so richly deserve.”
Al-Kadhimi appeared in a video footage published by his office on Sunday chairing a meeting with top security commanders to discuss the drone attack.
“The cowardly terrorist attack that targeted the home of the prime minister with the aim of assassinating him is a serious targeting of the Iraqi state by criminal armed groups,” Al-Kadhimi’s
No one admitted carrying out the attack, but the finger of blame was immediately pointed at Iran-backed armed groups who have been angered by Kadhimi’s rejection of Iranian interference in Iraq.
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The Hashd Al-Shaabi armed factions and their Fatah political bloc suffered a humiliating defeat in legislative elections in Iraq in October, and threatened violence unless the results were overturned.
The attack came two days after violent clashes in Baghdad between government forces and Hashd Al-Shaabi supporters. Protesters pelted police with stones near the Green Zone, injuring several officers. The police responded with tear gas and live gunfire, killing at least one demonstrator. Al-Kadhimi has ordered an investigation.
Independent analysts say the election results were a reflection of anger toward the Iran-backed armed groups, which are widely accused of involvement in the killing of at least 1,000 protesters who took to the streets in anti-government demonstrations that began in October 2019.
President Barham Salih condemned Sunday’s attack as a heinous crime against Iraq. “We cannot accept that Iraq will be dragged into chaos and a coup against its constitutional system,” he said.
The influential Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr, whose party was the biggest winner in last month’s election, called the attack a terrorist act against Iraq’s stability that aimed to “return Iraq to a state of chaos to be controlled by non-state forces.”
The Muslim World League also strongly condemned the failed assassination bid against Iraq’s prime minister on Sunday.
“Such terrorist acts that aim to destabilize Iraq, harm its security, and terrorize its people are destined to fail. With God’s help, the great and strong Iraq will continue to defeat such attempts and move forward with achieving progress and prosperity, and strengthening its national cohesion,” the secretary-general of the MWL Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa said.
Al-Issa expressed full support for the Iraqi government and people facing terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations.