“Cowardly rocket and drone attacks don’t build homelands and don’t build a future,” said the uninjured Mustafa al-Khadimi afterwards.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi remained defiant early Sunday morning after a drone strike hit his home in Baghdad hours earlier in a failed assassination attempt.
While Iraqi sources told various media that either six or seven of his security guards were injured in the attack, al-Kadhimi himself was unscathed and condemned the attempt in a television appearance at 4AM.
“My house was targeted by a cowardly attack,” he said calmly, sitting behind his desk. He also noted that that “everyone” with him was all right.
“Your heroic security forces and army are working for and defending Iraq’s stability,” he said. “Cowardly rocket and drone attacks don’t build homelands and don’t build a future.”
Adding a call for “peaceful dialogue for Iraq and for Iraq’s future,” he said, “We work to build our homeland by respecting the state and its institutions. ”
The government said that an unmanned aerial vehicle loaded with explosives tried to hit the prime minister’s private residence, located in the heavily guarded Green Zone of the capital where most government buildings and foreign embassies are located. One security official anonymously told Reuters that fragments of a small drone had been recovered.
Other media reported that a total of three armed drones were launched in the assassination attempt, with two of them being intercepted before reaching their target.
No group has yet taken responsibility for the attack, but there have been demonstrations near the Green Zone for weeks by supporters of Iranian-backed militias who refuse to accept the decimation of their political power in last month’s parliamentary elections. They are demanding a recount, saying it is impossible that they had lost some two-thirds of their seats.
Many Iraqis blame the militias, collectively known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), for having killed hundreds of protestors in 2019 when huge anti-government demonstrations wracked the country.
On Friday, one protestor was killed when they tried to cross into the Zone, when security forces used tear gas and live ammunition to repel their advance. CBS New reported that there had been an “exchange of fire,” with dozens of government forces injured. The prime minister ordered an investigation to find out who had violated orders not to fire on the demonstrators.
At the protestor’s funeral Saturday, the head of one of the militias, openly threatened Al-Khadimi.
“The blood of martyrs is to hold you accountable,” said Qais al-Khazali. “The protesters only had one demand against fraud in elections. Responding like this (with live fire) means you are the first responsible for this fraud.”
The election results had been ratified by the West, which sees al-Khadimi as an ally, even though he allows the Shiite militias to officially remain part of Iraq’s military forces.
The American State Department slammed the assassination attack in sharp terms.
“This apparent act of terrorism, which we strongly condemn, was directed at the heart of the Iraqi state,” spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. “We are in close touch with the Iraqi security forces charged with upholding Iraq’s sovereignty and independence and have offered our assistance as they investigate this attack.”