LONDON: The US on Monday said it was concerned about the escalation of tensions in Iraq and urged all parties to “remain peaceful and refrain from actions that could lead to a cycle of violence.”
12 protesters were killed and 270 others wounded as Iraq declared a nationwide curfew after supporters of Moqtada Sadr stormed the government palace in Baghdad’s Green Zone Monday following the powerful Shiite leader’s declaration that he was quitting politics.
“Reports of unrest across Iraq today are alarming as they do not allow Iraqi institutions to operate,” the US embassy in Baghdad said, adding that the country’s security, stability and sovereignty should not be endangered and dialogue was needed to resolve differences.
“The right to peaceful public protest is a fundamental component of all democracies, but protesters must also respect the institutions and property of the Iraqi government, which belong to and serve the Iraqi people and must be allowed to operate,” the embassy added.
James Downer, the charge d’affairs at the British embassy in the Iraqi capital, said his country was “deeply concerned” by Monday’s events and the reports of casualties in Baghdad.
“We urge those on the streets to refrain from violence,” he said in a statement. “Any protests must remain peaceful. Iraqis do not deserve to have their country dragged into violence. Iraqis need functioning institutions in order to act to address the challenges they face and to deliver the services upon which they depend.”
He called on all protesters to refrain from storming government buildings, and said “the legitimate security forces of the state are the only ones who can ensure the safety of protesters and the integrity of government buildings.”
Downer urged Iraqi security forces to respond proportionately, and called on all sides to “prioritize dialogue in pursuit of a peaceful, legal and inclusive solution for the sake of the Iraqi people.”
Meanwhile, Bahrain called on its citizens in Iraq to exercise caution and follow official security procedures.
The embassy in Baghdad urged its citizens to stay away from places where people gather and follow the instructions of the local authorities.