3 killed, 19 injured as Iraq protestors storm Iranian consulate in Karbala: Iraqi security
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – At least three people were killed and 19 injured when protestors in Iraq stormed the Iranian consulate in Karbala on Sunday, setting fire around the facility and replacing an Iranian flag with an Iraqi one.
Demonstrators threw stones and burned tires around the building, located in Iraq’s holy Shia city of Karbala, the Associated Press reported.
Security forces, speaking on condition of anonymity, said seven police were wounded in altercations with demonstrators.
The incident comes amid widespread demonstrations in Iraq’s central and southern provinces that have resulted in over 250 deaths and thousands of injuries.
The demonstrators are calling for radical change in Iraq’s political system, which they say fails to address their needs, but, rather, serves the interests of a small governing elite.
The protests are also directed against Iranian influence in Iraq. Indeed, Qassem Soleimani, head of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, reportedly visited Baghdad on Wednesday to shore up the Iraqi government.
On Friday, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most senior Shia cleric, speaking through an aide, affirmed that the “necessary reform must be carried out,” and “it is not for any person, group, party or any regional or international party to seize the will of Iraqis and impose their opinion on them.”
Indeed, the hashtag (in Arabic) “Expel Soleimani and [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei from Iraq” appeared on Twitter, as did a video of Iraqi protestors hitting pictures of the two Iranian leaders with shoes.
The protests over the past month reflect widespread dissatisfaction with the economy, including high levels of unemployment, the dismal state of public services, and widespread government corruption.
On Sunday, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi called for an end to nationwide protests, which he complained are affecting the country’s economy.