Iraq’s prime minister on Thursday called on the Iraqi people to prioritize the battle against the Islamic State group amid a deepening political crisis in the country.
Haider al-Abadi’s remarks come after the Iraqi leader moved to replace the commander of a military division tasked with protecting the heavily fortified Green Zone in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, after hundreds of angry anti-government protesters broke into the parliament building on Saturday.
Ahead of possible protests Friday, al-Abadi urged Iraqis to “respect the prestige of the state and not give infiltrators and terrorists the opportunity” to carry out attacks.
The storming of Baghdad’s highly fortified Green Zone was a major escalation of a political crisis that has simmered for months. Thousands of supporters of influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr climbed over the compound’s walls and broke into the parliament building, damaging furniture and slapping some lawmakers who tried to flee. Security forces largely stood idle with some were seen kissing and shaking hands with the protesters.