Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force, is currently in Iraq as Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi tendered his resignation before the Iraqi parliament over the weekend, according to Al Arabiya.
Soleimani was also sent to Iraq in October to help advise the government on the crackdown. According to Al Arabiya, he met with Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) militias and told them to support Mahdi during the October visit.
Iraqi protesters have claimed that Iranian “Farsi-speaking” forces have been firing on protesters, according to Al Arabiya. The PMF in Iraq is backed by Iran.
Iranian consulates in the cities of Karbala and Najaf have been torched and Iraqi flags have been raised over both during the protests, which began in October. At least 28 people were shot by security forces after the Najaf consulate was torched, according to Reuters.
Mahdi’s decision to resign was made after Shi’ite Muslim cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called for a change of leadership on Friday, according to Al Arabiya.
Sistani said attacks on peaceful protesters were “forbidden,” but also urged demonstrators to reject violence. Protesters “must not allow peaceful demonstrations to be turned into attacks on property or people,” he said.
Mahdi called on the government to “act in the interests of Iraq and preserve the blood of its people, and avoid slipping into a cycle of violence, chaos and devastation.”
Over 400 people have been killed in the protests that have spread throughout Iraq against the deterioration of living conditions and health services, government corruption, unemployment and Iranian interference in the country.
Mahdi’s resignation comes exactly a month after Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation in the face of anti-government protests that spread throughout Lebanon due to a troubled economy.
In both Lebanon and Iraq, protesters spoke out against Iranian influence in their countries. In Lebanon, Hezbollah supporters have clashed multiple times with protesters and in Iraq protesters have claimed that Iranian forces and pro-Iranian militias have attacked demonstrators. On Thursday in the city of Najaf in Iraq, clashes between security forces and protesters broke out as protesters torched the Iranian consulate in the city.
Source » jpost