Baghdad, Iraq – Iraqi protesters rejecting the outcome of the recent parliamentary elections held sit-ins near the high-security Green Zone as an uncomfortable calm began to settle in Baghdad following a failed attempt to oust Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi early Sunday morning killed.
“We do not accept the election results and we do not accept the blame,” Khalid, a protester sitting in front of a temporary tent near the iconic Al-Jumhuriya bridge, told Al Jazeera. “We will not leave until they give us what we deserve.”
Khalid is one of several hundred protesters who are mostly supporters of pro-Iran political blocs that suffered heavy losses in the October election. They claimed the election was fraudulent.
The same group of protesters are now denying involvement in the bombing of the Iraqi prime minister’s residence in the Green Zone.
After a turbulent weekend when deadly clashes broke out on Friday between the protesters and the security forces that killed three and injured more than a hundred people and the drone attack that took place on Sunday, the Iraqi capital is now trapped while various parties undertake the process. to shape the government carefully.
Until now, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Media reports, citing security sources and government officials, say at least one Iranian-backed militia was responsible for the attack, which many analysts said was carried by militant groups that rejected the election results and threatened to resort to violence.
‘Crossed the red line’
The night before the attack, Qais Khazali, the leader of the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, an Iranian-backed militia group, was seen standing among the protesters and threatening the prime minister. “The martyr’s blood will be your blood,” Khazali said, referring to the protesters who were killed during the clashes with security forces.
However, during an interview with Al Jazeera on Tuesday, Khazali vehemently denied allegations that his group was behind the attack.
“To be honest, we lean towards the hypothesis that a third party was behind the attack with Israeli implementation and US coordination,” Khazili said. He also said he would not accept the election results and threatened to “boycott the political process”.
Esmail Qaani, the commander of the Quds Force who succeeded Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani after his assassination by the US, soon visited Baghdad and met with militia groups in an effort to mediate and de-escalate tensions.
Qaani said in a meeting with militia groups that “what happened has crossed the red line and Tehran cannot accept it,” according to the British website Amwaj.media.
The streets of Baghdad were significantly quieter this week compared to the days before, especially at night, as the Iraqi army deployed armored vehicles to various parts of the city amid the tension at night. “We let the Iraqi people know that they are safe and secure,” said one security official.
However, for Iraqis who have seen the unrest unfold over the past few days, it is difficult to feel safe as relations between the state and the militia groups are strained, and even among the Shiite militia groups themselves.
“Welcome to Iraq, one moment you think we may finally have a break, the next we scramble to find shelter in crossfire,” Salam al-Halali, a Baghdad resident, told Al Jazeera.
However, some analysts believe the escalation may have peaked and what follows is a relatively more peaceful, albeit arduous, political negotiation process as pro-Iranian groups’ political blocs strive to ensure they are not excluded from the next government. not.
Shortly after the election results were announced, an ad hoc group called “Coordinated Framework” was formed, consisting of Shia groups that rejected the election results on the basis of the unfounded claims of election fraud.
It has since insisted on the manual recount of votes after some of them suffered devastating losses in the last election. The political arm of Hashd al-Shaabi, a pro-Iranian bloc, has had its seats reduced by more than three times. It was the second largest bloc in the previous parliament with 48 seats.
Moqtada al-Sadr, a prominent Shia scholar, has won most of the seats in the incoming parliament, and is forming a majority government – a move that other groups that have traditionally been part of a coalition government, made angry.
His party was the largest group to win 73 seats in parliament with 329 members.