SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The United States denounced the burning of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) office in Baghdad by a group of Hashid al-Shaabi supporters on Saturday (October 17).
The United States urged all parties to behave responsibly during the critical period in which Iraqi is dealing with a pandemic, an economic crisis and the continued threat of Islamic State, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said.
“The United States strongly condemns the attack on the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s branch office in Baghdad by Iran-backed elements of the Popular Mobilization Forces,’ Ortagus said in a statement.
“The ability to speak freely and critically is a vital component of any democracy, and political parties should be able to engage in robust debate without threat from militias and thugs,” she added.
“The destabilizing activities of Iran-backed militias operating outside of Government of Iraq control are inflaming ethnic and sectarian tensions and undermining democracy.”
Dozens of PMF supporters stormed and burned down the KDP’s fifth branch office in Baghdad on Saturday in response to remarks by the party’s member during a television interview.
Member of KDP Politburo and former Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari said in an interview with Al-Hurra television that the central government needed to “clean up the Green Zone from the presence of Hashid militias”.
A group of Hashid al-Shaabi supporters also burned the Kurdistan flag while storming the KDP office.
UNAMI also expressed “grave concern” about the burning of Kurdistan flag and KDP headquarters in Baghdad.
“Acts of violence and intimidation (never a solution to disagreement!) are to be condemned,” UNAMI said in a tweet late on Saturday. “Iraq needs unity, stability and dialogue to tackle its many problems.”
EU delegation to Iraqi also said violence “cannot be a means of expression” in response to the attack on KDP office.
Senior Kurdish officials including Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani, Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and Deputy Premier Qubad Talabani and leaders of political parties in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region also denounced the burning of Kurdistan flag and the KDP office.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said in a tweet late on Saturday that the attack of KDP headquarters was not acceptable and that the security forces had arrested a group of the perpetrators.
“There is no return to sectarian rivalry or an Iraqi against another for political purposes. We passed that hurdle together, and we will not go back,” Kadhimi tweeted.
The prime minister ordered an investigation into the attack during an emergency meeting of Ministerial Council for National Security on Saturday.