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Iraq: Parliament to Pressure Defense Minister After 'Third Party' Statement

Iraq: Parliament to Pressure Defense Minister After 'Third Party' Statement

Sunday, 17 November, 2019 - 09:00
Basra protests (File Phoot: AFP)

Iraqi Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari recently made a televised statement accusing an unspecified “third party” of killing demonstrators and security forces, however, the ministry warned against misinterpreting the minister's remarks.

During his recent visit to France, the minister said that the tear gas used in dispersing the demonstrators are not owned or imported by the Iraqi state, adding that the type used in the protests weighed more and has a range of 300 m.

Shammari accused a “third party” of killing the demonstrators to “push protesters to clash with security forces to spread instability in Iraq.” He did not elaborate more on the identity of the third party.

The issue of infiltrators has been discussed since 2011 protests, but the accusations are now more dangerous with the talk about a “third party” that uses excessive violence against demonstrators who seek to keep their protest peaceful.

The Iraqi government does not allow the use of live bullets under any pretext, however, the use of tear gas by a “third party” turned into a grave danger hindering the tasks of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi in meeting the demands of the demonstrators, who stress that they want to maintain peace in protests.

The Ministry of Defense issued a statement saying the minister’s reference to “third party” targeting the peaceful demonstrators and security forces was misinterpreted as he meant there were “gangs” that use weapons and use deadly smoke bombs against the people.

The Ministry said it wants to clear the name of the security services.

The parliament is said to pressure Shammari at its scheduled session Monday regarding his remarks, especially that the statement issued by the ministry did not specify the origin of the problem and it is necessary to identify the “third party”.

MP Mohammed al-Karbouli, also member of the parliamentary security and defense committee, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the statement must be clarified.

The issues the minister needs to address include: handing the task of protecting protesters from the army to the federal police, in addition to the authority that ordered it, and he will also be asked about information on the “third party” mentioned in his previous statement.

The minister will also have to answer questions on intelligence regarding the parties that imported the equipment, projectiles, rifles and tear gas, as well the measures taken against those accused of insubordination and killing protesters.

Human rights groups in Iraq, whether the Iraqi High Commission For Human Rights (IHCHR) or the parliamentary human rights commission, have warned against the “third party” saying it is time to uncover its identity to put an end to the killings as statistics say there are 300 killed and over 12,000 injured.

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