SULAIMANI (ESTA) — U.S. President Joe Biden held a phone conversation on Wednesday with the Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, a day after deadly clashes in Baghdad, according to the White House.
A readout from the White House said during the call, “President Joe Biden commended Prime Minister Kadhimi’s personal leadership during escalating tensions and violence over a 24-hour period earlier this week.”
“Both the U.S. President and the Iraqi Prime Minister welcomed restoring security in the Iraqi streets”, it said. And “they called on local leaders to engage in dialogue in line with Iraq’s constitution,” it added.
Baghdad witnessed a critical escalation between the Shiite rival groups after powerful cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced he was leaving politics, the groups engaged in armed conflict in the Iraqi capital this week.
The U.S. had previously described the unrest as disturbing. And Sadr said his decision was pumped by the failure of other Shiite leaders and parties to reform the Iraqi governing system.
At least 22 Iraqis were killed amid the combats but hours after, the situation de-escalated when Sadr ordered his followers on Tuesday to end their protests in central Baghdad and leave the streets within minutes.
The readout also said that President Biden “praised the performance of the Iraqi Security Forces and extended condolences to the families of those killed in the recent fighting.” It did not mention Sadr by name.
The recent bloody clashes followed 10 months of political deadlock since parliamentary elections, and President Barham Salih has warned that the political crisis is yet to be over, calling for early elections.