Protesters storm the Iranian consulate and set fire to the outer perimeter of the compound, shouting condemnation of Iranian influence over Iraq's political parties. Hundreds of Iraqi protesters torched the Iranian consulate in the southern city of Basra on Friday as fresh demonstrations erupted over poor infrastructure and lack of jobs. The latest unrest follows several days of violence in which at least 10 people were killed, mostly in clashes with security forces. During this week's unrest, angry locals set fire to government buildings and targeted the offices of Shiite militias and political parties.
Many Basra residents blame government mismanagement and corruption for collapsing public services, including the recent hospitalization of thousands of people who drank contaminated water.
The country's parliament has called an emergency meeting with lawmakers and ministers on Saturday to discuss the crisis.
Protesters outside Iran's consulate on Friday burned an Iranian flag and chanted "Iran, out!" as they stormed the building. Many blame Iranian-backed parties for interfering in Iraqi politics, and thereby playing a role in the deterioration of public services. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi called it a "savage attack," while Iraq's foreign ministry said it was "an unacceptable act undermining the interests of Iraq and its international relations."
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, under pressure to calm the situation, has promised to release funds allocated to fixing Basra's public services. The turmoil comes at a sensitive time for the country. Lawmakers are struggling to form a new government following inconclusive elections in May, with two blocs claiming to have won the most seats. Abadi is hoping to keep his job in the next government by forming an alliance with populist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who has called for Iraq to have greater political independence from both neighboring Iran and the United States.