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Iraq’s Defense Minister Says Suspicious Parties Targeting Him for Defending Protesters

Iraq’s Defense Minister Says Suspicious Parties Targeting Him for Defending Protesters

Monday, 25 November, 2019 - 09:00
A man puts an Iraqi flag on the coffin of a demonstrator who was killed at anti-government protests in Nassiriya, during the funeral in Najaf, Iraq November 24, 2019. REUTERS/Alaa al-Marjani

The Iraqi Defense Ministry revealed that a media campaign has been launched against Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari by parties who are unsatisfied with his backing for anti-government protesters.

The ministry said that Shammari has expressed support to protester demands, mainly after disclosing that a third party has been targeting protesters and security forces on the streets.

Several Iraqi media outlets quoted reports published in Sweden as saying that Shammari, who became a Swedish citizen in 2015, is involved in harassment cases and forging documents related to medical insurance.

The ministry posted a statement on its Facebook page dismissing the reports as "a cheap attempt to discredit" the minister.

It said a third party is directly involved in the publishing of such reports especially after Shammari accused it of killing protesters.

A great number of Iraqis blame Iran and its militias for opening fire on demonstrators.

"We confirm that the minister has now hired a Swedish lawyer in order to file a lawsuit against the Swedish and Arab newspapers and websites that published this false information," the ministry’s statement read.

An intelligence source told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the campaign against the minister is attributed to his rejection to purchase Iranian defense systems and weaponry.

The source said the problem with Shammari is that he rejected a deal to purchase Khordad 15 (surface-to-air missile system) and Russia’s S-300, upgraded by Iran.

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