Protestors burn Kurdish party’s HQ in Baghdad over anti-Hashd Shaabi comment

Protesters set fire to the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Saturday after a senior KDP official criticized the Hashd Shaabi forces in TV comments.

Dozens gathered this morning in front of the KDP headquarters in the Karrada district in central Baghdad, chanting slogans against Hoshyar Zebari, a prominent Kurdish official and former Iraqi foreign minister, who demanded an end to the presence of Hashd Shaabi in the Green Zone in central Baghdad, an Interior Ministry source told Xinhua.

The source said that some demonstrators stormed the headquarters, destroyed certain things inside, and set fire to the building.

Civil defense teams and fire engines rushed to the site and managed to extinguish the fire, he said, adding that there is no casualty in the incident.

Later in the day, regional Kurdistan President Nechirvan Barzani condemned in a statement the attack on the KDP headquarters in Baghdad, saying it “attacked the peaceful coexistence and undermined societal and political peace and is inconsistent with the principles of the constitution, democracy and human rights.”

The Hashd Shaabi said in a statement that “we understand the feelings of Iraqis who support the Hashd Shaabi forces, and we support the protest and peaceful demonstration as stipulated in the constitution, but we reject the use of violence and sabotage in any form.”

“We call on everyone to preserve the prestige of the state, societal peace, and respect for security men in this sensitive circumstance,” the Hashd Shaabi said.

The demonstration came a few days after Zebari said in an interview with local media that the rocket attack on Erbil late in September was due to the close relations of the Kurdish region with the United States and because it houses U.S. military bases.

Moreover, Zebari demanded to end the presence of the Hashd Shaabi in the Green Zone, where the main Iraqi government offices and some foreign embassies are located.