Iraq is on edge Sunday while bracing for potential protests and unrest following the widely reported assassination attempt of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in the overnight hours. As we reported earlier an explosive-laden drone struck his residence in Baghdad, while the military said Kadhimi was unharmed in the attack and is in good health. Subsequent reports indicated three drones were launched toward his residence in the high-secure Green Zone, with the military saying two were shout down by anti-air defenses.
Kadhimi is now calling for "calm and restraint" following priors days of protests by pro-Iran groups which turned violent in the heart of the Iraqi capital. He denounced the "cowardly assault". Following a hotly contested Oct.10 election involving rival political groups and their attempt to form a new government, the drone incident has unleashed fresh accusations and speculations over who was behind it. A heavy Iraqi troop presence has been observed in Baghdad's streets.
"Hundreds of supporters of pro-Iran political groups, which suffered heavy losses in the polls, have clashed with security forces in Baghdad near the heavily fortified Green Zone over the weekend," Middle East Eye observes.
No group has as yet claimed responsibility for the attack which reported wounded multiple of the PM's personal body guard. Supporters of Kadhimi, as well as Western sources and officials quickly pointed the finger at Iran, given that pro-Iran militias are disputing "fraudulent" elections which saw their Shia political parties lose bigtime in parliament:
Kadhimi, who has been in power since May 2020, was accused by pro-Iran groups of overseeing "fraud" after election results saw their vote share drop dramatically.
The Fatah coalition, which comprises the Badr Organisation, Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, and Kata'ib Hezbollah among others, saw their seats decrease from 47 in the 2018 elections to about 20 seats following the 10 October parliamentary vote.
But perhaps to be expected, Iran is now strongly suggesting that the United States and its allies were behind the attack. In provocative Sunday statements, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Said Khatibzadeh has said the assassination attempt served the interests of the US.
"Such incidents are in the interest of those who have violated the stability, security, independence and territorial integrity of Iraq over the past 18 years," the spokesman said in reference to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq and subsequent lengthy occupation.
"They have sought to achieve their sinister regional goals by creating terrorist groups that seek to stir sedition," Khatibzadeh alleged. He urged the Iraqi public to be "vigilant" against "conspiracies that have targeted Iraq’s security and progress."
Iran has been frequently blamed over the past couple years for almost monthly rocket and drone attacks against bases hosting US troops, as well as attacks on the US Embassy in the Green Zone.
Tehran now seems to be suggesting that the assassination attempt was by design intended to put more international scrutiny and pressure on Iran and Iran-backed groups inside Iraq.