By Bukola Hameed
Iraq’s political crisis has descended into violence, with Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr’s announcement that he would quit politics sparking protests and clashes that killed at least 20 people and wounded dozens more.
Iraq’s military announced a nationwide curfew on Monday after shelling and gunfire erupted in the Iraqi capital and protesters stormed a government palace. The renewed violence has sparked concern, with the United Nations and several countries calling for calm and dialogue to resolve disputes.
Here is a roundup of the reaction:
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he is following the protests in Iraq with concern, according to a spokesman.
Guterres appealed for calm and restraint, and urged “all relevant actors to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation and avoid any violence”. He also said all parties and actors must “rise above their differences” and engage “without further delay, in a peaceful and inclusive dialogue on a constructive way forward”.
US Ambassador to Iraq Alina Romanowski said the unrest in Iraq is “disturbing” because they were hampering the operation of Iraqi institutions and urged all parties to “remain peaceful and refrain from acts that could lead to a cycle of violence”.
“Iraq’s security, stability and sovereignty should not be put at risk,” she said in a statement. “Now is the time for dialogue to resolve differences, not through confrontation.” Romanowski also called on demonstrators to “respect the institutions and property of the Iraqi government, which belong to and serve the Iraqi people and should be allowed to function”.
Iran closed its border with Iraq until further notice, while its embassy in Baghdad asked Iranians in the country not to travel to Baghdad, Kadhimiya or Samarra, state media reported.
The European Union expressed concern about the clashes in Baghdad and called on all parties to exercise utmost restraint and to remain calm.
“It is critical for all actors to avoid any actions that could lead to further violence,” the EU said in a statement.
“We reiterate that all laws must be respected and integrity of the institutions safeguarded. All parties should work towards de-escalating tensions and engage in political dialogue within the constitutional framework, as the only means to resolve differences,” it added.
Turkey urged its citizens to avoid travelling to Baghdad and called for “inclusive dialogue” to resolve the ongoing crisis.
“Turkiye is concerned about the developments in brotherly Iraq,” the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.
“We hope that current political conflicts will be resolved peacefully and through inclusive dialogue, and the peace and well-being of the Iraqi people will be ensured,” it added.
Canada’s Ambassador to Iraq Gregory Galligan said he is “deeply alarmed” by the violence across the country.
“This situation is very dangerous and could quickly spiral beyond control,” he said in a tweet. “Canada urges all parties to take steps to quickly de-escalate the situation and resolve differences through negotiation for the benefit of all Iraqis.”
The UK’s Charge d’Affaires in Iraq, James Downer, expressed concern over casualties, urging protesters to refrain from incursions into government buildings and security forces to respond in a proportionate manner.
“We call on all sides to prioritise dialogue in pursuit of a peaceful, legal and inclusive solution for the Iraqi people,” Downer added in a tweet.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA
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