By Edward Yeranian
August 24, 2020
Iraqi state TV reported that government security forces blocked main arteries Saturday in the southern port city of Basra after protesters torched the local parliament building and a number of Shiite militia headquarters in response to the killings of protest leaders.
Protesters with bulldozers in the southern city of Nasiriyah also attacked Shiite party offices after an explosion wounded 11 protesters overnight in the city’s central Haboubi Square, Iraqi state TV said.
State TV said the local governor of Thi Qar province ordered police to investigate who was behind the explosion. Media reports said a bomb hidden in a motorbike was detonated near a crowd of protesters.
In Basra, one protester accused pro-Iranian militias of killing demonstrators as the crowd around him torched the parliament building. Protesters were demanding that police investigate the killing this past week of protest leaders Riham Yaqoob and Tahseen Osamah.
A Shiite member of parliament with ties to pro-Iranian parties, Kazem Siyadi, justified the killings on Iraqi TV: He called the killing of Yaqoob a “political elimination,” claiming that she was a “traitor” for going to a meeting at which U.S. diplomats were present.
Paul Sullivan, a professor at the U.S. National Defense University in Washington, told VOA that “many Iraqis are fed up with Iran’s influence in their country, including Iraqi Shiites.”