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Pro-Iran protesters camp outside the US Embassy in Baghdad

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Camped hundreds of Iraqi pro-Iranians threw stones at the US embassy in Baghdad again Wednesday after an attack on the chancellery increased tension between Washington and Tehran.

Protesters in Iraq news
File AFP
Protesters in Iraq news
File AFP

This unprecedented attack, launched on Tuesday by thousands of fighters and supporters of Hachd al-Chaabi, a coalition of paramilitaries dominated by the pro-Iran and integrated into the state, has raised the specter of two traumas in their lives. embassies, in Tehran in 1979 and in Benghazi in Libya in 2012.

On Wednesday, the usually hermetically sealed green zone where the protesters had entered the previous day without incident to general surprise was closed.

Obviously to prevent other demonstrators from joining the hundreds of Iraqis who, after the attack, camped outside the Chancellery in protest at the deaths of 25 Hachd fighters in American strikes on Sunday.

Hundreds of these Hachd supporters or fighters threw stones at the chancellery in the morning and burned American flags chanting “Death to America”, AFP correspondents said.

Some have taken down huge trucks from hundreds of mattresses, blankets and other supplies to hold their sit-in, which they advertise unlimited, at the doors of the embassy.

The Iraqi forces present on the ground are clearly not trying to dislodge them.

But U.S. security forces at the embassy briefly fired tear gas canisters to disperse protesters.

That did not prevent the throwing of stones and Molotov cocktails from continuing on the immense diplomatic complex, whose entrances are now covered with white flags of Hachd and yellow of the Hezbollah brigades, the faction targeted by the American raids.

“I have been there since yesterday (Tuesday), I slept here and I will not leave before the Americans get out and we enter their embassy,” said Abbas, a protester, at AFP.

– Tents and meals –

Not far away, near the huge tents where the protesters slept, cooks prepare three meals a day on rows of gas bottles.

Opposite, elite Iraqi units form a cordon around the embassy.

The embassy attack, the American raids and the rocket attacks that preceded them against installations sheltering Americans, make it fear that the Iranian-American animosity will turn into open conflict in Iraq, an allied country at the same time from the United States and Iran.

US President Donald Trump has accused Iran of orchestrating the attack on the embassy in Baghdad and threatening to make it pay the “high price”.

How daring to accuse Iran, Tehran replied, when Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Wednesday condemned the raids and the “malevolence” of the United States.

Trump said he did not expect a war with his sworn enemy, but Washington has deployed 750 additional troops to the Middle East, “most likely” to be sent to Iraq later, an official said on Tuesday.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo focused on the main leaders of the Hashd, which fought the jihadists alongside the coalition led by the United States and the Iraqi government.

Hachd leaders were in the procession which converged on the American embassy on Tuesday and some of their lieutenants, sometimes blacklisted by the United States, took their photos amid the smoke and broken glass of the equipment burned down in the chancellery.

– “Not an arena” –

Since its withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 after eight years of occupation, the United States has largely lost its influence in that country. The political system they had installed is now submerged by Tehran.

The graffiti left on the walls of the American embassy testify to it: “No to America” ​​and “Soleimani is my leader”, in reference to the powerful Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, who already presides over the negotiations to form the future government in Iraq .

This Hashd show of force comes as Iraq has been shaken since October 1 by a popular revolt which conspires power, accused of corruption and incompetence, but also the influence of the Iranian neighbor.

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