Protesters storm Bahraini embassy in Baghdad in protest against US ‘deal of the century’

BAGHDAD:  At least 54 people were reportedly arrested after dozens of Iraqi protesters stormed the Bahraini embassy in Baghdad on Thursday night to protest against Bahrain’s participation in the US-led economic “deal of the century” plan for Palestine.

Iraqi authorities deployed additional troops to disperse the demonstrators and secure the embassy, which sources said appeared to have been targeted by Kata’ib Hezbollah, one of the most powerful pro-Iranian Shiite armed factions in Iraq.

The protesters burned US and Bahraini flags outside the embassy in Mansour, western Baghdad, before entering the inner courtyard, taking down the Bahraini flag and replacing it with a Palestinian flag. The gesture seemingly symbolized their rejection of US President Donald Trump’s recently unveiled economic plan to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Bahraini capital Manama this week hosted a two-day “Peace to Prosperity” workshop to discuss the plan, which was attended by Jared Kushner, Trump’s adviser. Palestinian authorities rejected the proposal, which does not address the two-state solution, and refused to participate in the workshop.

Although shots were heard ringing out in the vicinity of the embassy for about eight minutes, no casualties were immediately reported. Iraqi security forces in Baghdad were put on high alert and roads leading to the embassy were closed to prevent more protesters gathering there.

Iraqi Interior Minister Yassin Al-Yassiri went to the embassy in an attempt to “calm the situation” and meet the Bahraini ambassador. Security was heightened in nearby areas. Saad Maan, the official spokesman for the Ministry of Interior said Al-Yassari had stressed that the security of embassies and diplomatic missions is a red line that must not be crossed under any circumstances.

He also revealed that 54 people were arrested in connection with the attack and that the minister will appoint a committee to investigate the incident and the individuals responsible for ensuring the safety and security of the embassy and its staff.

In response to the incident, Bahrain recalled its ambassador for a consultation. The Iraqi government expressed its “deep regret” over what it described as “encroachment on the embassy building” and “acts of sabotage that violate the law and the authority of the state and the immunity of diplomatic missions.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s office issued a statement early on Friday that read: “The Iraqi government is serious in preventing the violation of the law and will never tolerate such acts, and affirms its absolute rejection of any action threatening diplomatic missions, their security and safety of their employees.”

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