Hashd al-Shaabi supporters burn KDP office, Kurdistan flag in Baghdad
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – On Saturday, hundreds of supporters of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF)—an umbrella organization of largely Iran-aligned Shia militias—burned the office of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Kurdistan flag in Baghdad.
The attack drew swift condemnations by top officials in the Kurdistan Region.
Marchers carrying banners of the PMF, also known as the Hashd al-Shaabi in Arabic, crossed a security checkpoint and attacked the KDP office in the Iraqi capital’s Karada neighborhood. They set fire to the building and burned the Kurdistan flag.
A Kurdistan 24 correspondent at the scene said the security forces that were present did not interfere to stop the attack.
“They have burned down each and every room, but luckily no one was injured during the attack,” Ismael Mandalawi, a KDP member in Baghdad, told Kurdistan 24. He added that PMF militias have been warning over the past couple of days that they will burn down the KDP office.
“They have been issuing threats against us since 2014,” but “they never physically attacked the party branch, but today they entered and set fire to everything,” Mandalawi added.
Shwan Mohammed Taha, the head of the KDP fifth branch in Baghdad, told Kurdistan 24: “We have told the federal government of the constant warnings against KDP, and yesterday they placed security forces around the branch but did nothing against the attack today.”
PMF supporters have been leading an online campaign against the KDP recently, denouncing an earlier statement by Hoshyar Zebari, a senior KDP official and a former foreign minister in the Iraqi government.
In an interview with Alhurra news, Zebari said that to avoid the risks of a US withdrawal of its Baghdad embassy, the federal government should “clean the green zone, which is the international zone, from the outlaw forces within the Popular Mobilization Forces.”
He also called and to secure a safe route from the green zone to Baghdad International Airport, areas that frequently come under attack by Tehran-backed PMF militias, and “also change certain leaders of the PMF.”
The KDP bloc in the Iraqi parliament warned on Thursday of attempts to forge disputes by “altering” Zebari’s statements, efforts it said were “unacceptable.”
The parliamentary group said in a statement that “at a time when the country is going through difficult political and economic conditions, and Iraqi citizens are waiting for representatives and political forces to unite in order to get out of the crises afflicting the country, there are those who try to fabricate problems to promote themselves, at the expense of the Iraqi people’s interest.”
Editing by Khrush Najari