The United States on Friday accused Iran of meddling in Iraq’s quest to form a government, calling it a “huge violation” of sovereignty. “We are encouraging neighbours not to meddle and undermine the constitution of the country,” said David Schenker, the top US diplomat for the Middle East. Demonstrators across Iraq have blamed powerful eastern neighbour Iran for propping up the Baghdad government which they were seeking to topple.
Pointing to elite Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani’s presence in Baghdad, Schenker said: “It is unorthodox and it is incredibly problematic and it is a huge violation of Iraqi sovereignty.”
Tehran had demanded Iraq to take decisive action against the protesters, with foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi condemning the attacks. Iran’s consulate in Iraq’s other holy city of Karbala was targeted earlier this month, with security forces shooting four demonstrators dead.
Earlier, Iraq's parliament approved the resignation of the embattled cabine, after two months of violent unrest that have left more than 420 people dead and thousands mourning them in nationwide marches.
The formal resignation came after an emergency Cabinet session earlier in which ministers approved the document and the resignation of key staffers, including Abdul-Mahdi’s chief of staff. In a pre-recorded speech, Abdul-Mahdi addressed Iraqis, saying that following parliament’s recognition of his stepping down, the Cabinet would be demoted to caretaker status, unable to pass new laws and make key decisions.
He listed his government’s accomplishments, saying it had come to power during difficult times. “Not many people were optimistic that this government would move forward,” he said. He said the government had managed to push through important job-creating projects and improve electricity generation.
“But unfortunately, these events took place,” he said, referring to the mass protest movement that engulfed Iraq on October 1. “We need to be fair to our people and listen to them.” At least 400 people have died since the leaderless uprising shook Iraq with thousands of Iraqis taking to the streets in Baghdad and the predominantly Shiite southern Iraq decrying corruption, poor services, lack of jobs and calling for an end to the post-2003 political system.
Security forces have used live fire, tear gas and sound bombs to disperse crowds leading to heavy casualties.