- "The targeting of peaceful protesters and security forces with live rounds . . . is unacceptable in Iraq."
- “These protests came against the background of despair, darkness, and a public feeling that the country needs reform,” Salih said.
- The offices of a number of media outlets based in Iraq have also been targeted.
Iraqi President Barham Salih has called for an end to recent protests, condemning violence against demonstrators and pressure on the media. Speaking on television, the Iraqi president said that “the government and the leadership of the security forces affirm that there were no orders for shooting. This was not a decision from the state or its institutions.”
“This is sedition, a crime, and it cannot be overlooked. The blood of our people and security forces are not up for political rhetoric, nor adventurism,” Salih added. “The targeting of peaceful protesters and security forces with live rounds … is unacceptable in Iraq that we chose and agreed to be democratic, in which rights and freedoms are guaranteed.”
Meanwhile, Salih has called on the protesters to stop demonstrations. “It is enough, the bloodshed is enough, the widow and the orphan are enough,” he said. In Iraq, the presidency is a ceremonial official whose duty is “to safeguard the constitution, independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial security” of the country.
“These protests came against the background of despair, darkness, and a public feeling that the country needs reform,” Salih said. “Preserve the peacefulness of your protests, and don’t let saboteurs steal from you this homeland. Don’t let anyone steal your dreams or demands.”
Iraqi demonstrations began on Tuesday, calling for improved economic conditions and against corruption, accusing government agencies of inefficiency. Baghdad and several other cities have witnessed protests, and at least 104 people have been killed in the demonstrations, according to news sources. Government officials said several of the dead were from security forces.
According to observers, the demonstrations appear to have started spontaneously, and it is not clear whether any particular party or group was involved in organizing them. Some news media quoted demonstrators saying government forces used bullets against protesters, but officials insisted that unidentified people had fired at demonstrators as well as security forces.
The offices of a number of media outlets based in Iraq have also been targeted. Saudi Arabia-based al-Arabiya TV, the Tigris-based television channel in Jordan, and al-Hadith television reported that gunmen attacked their offices and intimidated staff and destroyed equipment. The Hadith network has blamed the Iranian-backed militant group Hashid al-Sha’abi. In contrast, Iranian government-owned Al-Alam TV has accused the television networks of provoking demonstrations and said a group of people had come to their offices to warn them.
In some demonstrations, protesters have chanted slogans against Iran, the country and groups affiliated with it, adding to the problems of the Iraqi people, according to some media reports. Some officials and media in Iran have named those demonstrators who say they want to disrupt relations between the two countries. Yesterday, the head of the judiciary in Iran, Ibrahim Raisi, described the Iraqi protests as a reaction to the presence of Iranian pilgrims at the Arba’in ceremony.
Also, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a message on his Twitter, without explicitly referring to the recent demonstrations, has condemned what he described as an “enemy” attempt to divide the two nations.