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Iraqi protesters torch Iranian consulate for second time within week

Iraqi protesters (Voice of America News/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Police in Iraq’s mostly Shi’ite southern city of Najaf say anti-government protesters have set fire to the Iranian Consulate in the restive city for the second time in a week.

The arson attack on December 1 came as Iraqis continue taking to the streets of Baghdad and Iraq’s Shi’ite-majority south to demand more jobs, an end to endemic corruption, and improved public services.

The arson attack occurred despite the approval by Iraq’s parliament on December 1 of the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi’s government after two months of protests and violent police crackdowns that have left more than 400 people dead.

Iran is seen by many Iraqis as a supporter of Mahdi’s government.

On November 27, angry crowds in Najaf set fire to the Iranian consulate, chanting “Iran out of Iraq.”

Staff at the consulate managed to flee just before protesters stormed the building.

Earlier in November, the Iranian Consulate in the mainly Shi’ite city of Karbala was targeted by protesters.

Iraq’s Foreign Ministry said the earlier attacks on Iranian diplomatic buildings were “aimed at damaging the historical relations between Iraq and Iran.”

But Iran’s Foreign Ministry has blamed Baghdad for failing to protect the consulate and has demanded decisive action against “aggressors.”