Iraqi prime minister survives assassination bid with drones

In a statement, the government said the drones tried to hit al-Kadhimi’s home. Baghdad residents heard the sound of an explosion from the direction of the Green Zone, which houses foreign embassies and government offices, followed by gunfire.

The statement released by state media said the attempted assassination with “an explosive-laden drone that tried to target his residence in the Green Zone” failed.

“The security forces are taking the necessary measures in connection with this failed attempt,” it said.

It was not clear who was behind the attack, nor did anyone immediately admit responsibility. It comes in the middle a stalemate between security forces and pro-Iranian Shiite militias whose supporters camped outside the Green Zone for almost a month after rejecting the results of the Iraqi parliamentary elections, in which they were the biggest losers.

“The assassination attempt is a dramatic escalation that unprecedentedly crosses a line that can have violent repercussions,” wrote Ranj Alaaldin, a non-resident Brookings Institution fellow, in a post on Twitter.

Protests became fatal Friday as the protesters marched towards the Green Zone. An exchange of fire broke out in the course of which a demonstrator linked to the militia was killed. Dozens of security guards were injured. Al-Khadimi ordered an investigation to find out what caused the clashes and who broke the order not to open fire.

Some of the leaders of the most powerful deliberate militias openly blamed al-Kadhimi for the clashes on Friday and the protester’s death.

“The blood of the martyrs is to hold you accountable,” said Qais al-Khazali, leader of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia, at a funeral of the protester in front of al-Kadhimi. “The demonstrators only had one demand against election fraud. Such a reaction (with keen fire) means that you are the first to be responsible for this fraud. ”

Attended the funeral were leaders of the mostly Shiite Iran-backed factions known collectively as the Popular Mobilization Forces or Hashd al-Shaabi in Arabic.

Abu Alaa al-Walae, commander of Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada, told him to forget another term in a tweet apparently addressed to al-Kadhimi and not naming him.

The United States, the UN Security Council and others praised the October 10 elections, which were largely non-violent with no major technical disruptions.

But after the vote, militia supporters pitched tents near the Green Zone, rejected the election result and threatened violence if their demands for a recount were not met.

The unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud overshadowed the vote. The confrontation with militia supporters has also increased tensions between rival Shiite groups, which could be reflected in the streets and threaten Iraq’s newfound relative stability.

The elections took place months ahead of schedule in response to mass protests in late 2019 in which tens of thousands in Baghdad and mostly Shiite southern provinces protested against endemic corruption, poor services and unemployment. They also protested neighboring Iran’s gross interference in Iraq’s affairs by Iran-backed militias.

The militias have lost some of their popularity since the 2018 vote when they saw big election wins. Many blame them for suppressing the 2019 protests and questioning the authority of the state.

The influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who won the most seats with 73 of 329 seats in parliament, achieved the greatest gains. Despite having good relations with Iran, al-Sadr publicly rejects outside interference in Iraq’s affairs.

The protests appeared to be aimed at pressure al-Sadr to ensure that Iranian-leaning factions are part of the next cabinet. As the winner, al-Sadr’s bloc will seek coalition partners and appoint the prime minister.

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