PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi is now the target
Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi survived an assassination attempt by an armed drone. His residence was targeted by drones early Sunday and there was no damage to him, officials said. The attack comes amid tensions over the refusal of Iran-backed militias to accept last month’s parliamentary election results.
Two Iraqi officials told The Associated Press that seven al-Kadhimi security guards were wounded when two armed drones struck Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone area.
Soon after the attack, the prime minister tweeted: “I am fine and among my people. Thank God.” He called for peace and restraint “for Iraq’s sake”.
He later appeared on Iraqi television, sitting behind a table in a white shirt. “Home is not built or a future is built by cowardly rocket and drone strikes,” he said.
The government said in a statement that drones laden with explosives tried to target al-Kadhimi’s home. Residents of Baghdad heard an explosion from the direction of the Green Zone, which was followed by heavy shelling. There are foreign embassies and government offices in Green John.
The statement released by state-run media said security forces are “taking necessary measures in connection with this failed attempt.”
There were no immediate claims about the attack. But the latest case comes amid a standoff between security forces and pro-Iranian Shia militias, whose supporters have been camping outside the green zone for nearly a month after Iraq’s parliamentary elections rejected the results.
The protest turned deadly on Friday when protesters tried to enter the green zone. Security forces fired tear gas shells and used ammunition. During this, a protester belonging to the militia was killed. Dozens of security forces were injured. Al-Khadimi ordered an investigation to determine who instigated the clashes and who violated the orders.
Leaders of some of the most powerful militia factions loyal to Iran have openly blamed al-Kadhimi for Friday’s clashes and the protesters’ deaths. “The blood of the martyrs is there to hold you accountable,” said Qais al-Khazali, leader of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq militia, while addressing al-Kadhimi at a funeral for the protestor on Saturday.
“The protesters had only one demand against election fraud. Responding like this (with live fire) means that you are the first person responsible for this fraud.”
The funeral was attended by leaders of mostly Shia Iran-backed factions, known together as the Popular Mobilization Force, or Hashd al-Shaabi in Arabic.
Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada’s commander, Abu Ala al-Wale, apparently addressed al-Kadhimi in a tweet that did not name him, asking him to forget about another term.
Al-Kadhimi, 54, was Iraq’s former intelligence chief before becoming prime minister in May last year. He was captured by the militia in the U.S. He is considered close to the U.S. And Iran has tried to strike a balance between Iraq’s alliances with both. Ahead of the elections, he has hosted several rounds of talks in Baghdad between regional foes Iran and Saudi Arabia to defuse regional tensions. While voting, militia supporters pitched tents near the Green Zone, rejected the election results and threatened to continue with the demonstrations until their demands for recounting were met.