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UNSC urges Iraqi parties to refrain from violence, settle differences through dialogue

Municipality workers clean up while Iraqi army soldiers guard the entrance of the high-security Green Zone in the capital Baghdad on August 30, 2022. (File photo by AFP)

The United Nations Security Council has “appealed for calm and restraint” in Iraq, asking the parties to refrain from violence and seek a political solution, days after the Arab country saw a two-day turmoil.

The UNSC issued a statement on Thursday following this week’s developments in Iraq.

Condemning the violence in Iraq on August 29 and 30, the UNSC members voiced deep concern over reported deaths and injuries.

They also appealed for calm and restraint and welcomed statements by parties calling for all to refrain from further violence, urging all parties to peacefully resolve their political differences, to respect the rule of law, the right of peaceful assembly, and Iraqi institutions, and to avoid violence.

The members of the Security Council strongly urged all parties and actors to engage, without further delay, in a peaceful and constructive dialogue to advance reforms and chart a constructive way forward.

Violence erupted in the capital Baghdad after Muqtada al-Sadr on Monday said he was resigning from politics and closing his movement’s offices amid a political stalemate that has left the country incapable of forming a new government since the parliamentary elections of October 2021.

Sadr's supporters pulled down the barriers outside the government palace and breached its gates on Monday. The army announced a nationwide curfew, but armed clashes raged overnight. At least 30 people were killed and 700 others wounded in the two days of unrest, which came after three years of relative stability in Baghdad.

Iraqi supporters of the prominent Shia cleric withdrew on Tuesday from Baghdad’s high-security Green Zone after he demanded an end to two days of unrest.

Sadr had given his followers “60 minutes” to withdraw after which he would “disavow” those who remained.

“I apologize to the Iraqi people, the only ones affected by the events,” he said in a speech from his base in the holy city of Najaf. “Shame on this revolution... Regardless of who was the initiator, this revolution, as long as it is marred by violence, is not a revolution.”

“I thank the security forces and members of Hashd al-Sha’abi,” he added, referring to the Sadrist movement’s main rival faction, also known as the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU).

Like Sadr, other top Iraqi figures also denounced violence and called for calm, including the PMU’s leader Falih al-Fayyadh, who called for restraint among all factions for the good of Iraq.

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