The European Union has communicated on Sunday its concern over Saturday’s new wave of protests in Iraq staged by supporters of the powerful cleric Muqtada al Sadr and called on Iraqi forces to conclude their stalled government negotiations, key to this latest crisis, in accordance with the terms of the Magna Carta.
“The EU is concerned about the ongoing protests and their possible escalation in Baghdad. We urge all parties to exercise restraint in order to avoid further violence,” Brussels has made known in a statement.
A total of 125 people, including 25 members of the Iraqi security forces, were injured on Saturday, the day Al Sadr’s supporters seized parliament for the second time this week and paralyzed the Iraqi capital Baghdad in protest against the candidacy of pro-Iranian Shiite politician Mohamed al Sudani, the religious man’s rival, for the post of prime minister.
Faced with this scenario, the EU “invites the political forces to resolve the problems through a constructive political dialogue within the constitutional framework,” adds the note, which ends by recalling the “right to peaceful protest” although always from the “respect for the laws and state institutions.”
The cleric, whose Sayirun coalition won last year’s legislative elections, has been denouncing for months the incapacity of the rest of the political forces to form a new government, and has assured that the pro-Iranian group to which the candidate Al Sudani, Marco de Coordination, the big loser in the elections, belongs, should not have a presence in the new Executive.
However, and after the resignation in June of the Saderite parliamentary bloc due to the deadlock in the negotiations, the pro-Iranian group decided to step forward and present the former Minister of Labor and Social Affairs as candidate.
Iraq is already going through its longest period of government negotiations since the first elections held in 2005 under U.S. auspices, a situation that has driven both the country’s population and political class into a state of permanent frustration and prevented OPEC’s second largest oil producer from extracting the corresponding benefits from rising crude prices.