Middle East

Fri 22 May 2020:

Iraqis in Baghdad have over the past few days campaigned for the removal of Iranian political and military symbols marking Quds Day, accusing Iran of taking advantage of the Palestinian cause for populist aims.

Quds Day is an Iranian tradition involving a march in solidarity with Israeli-occupied Jerusalem on the last Friday of Ramadan.

The photos which appeared in Baghdad included ones showing current Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and the late Supreme Leader Ayotallah Ruhollah Khomeini.

There were also posters showing former Iranian Revolutionary Guard Commander Qassem Soleimani, and the head of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah Brigades militia, Iraqi Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, both of whom were killed in an American air strike near Baghdad airport early this year.

The posters were displayed across Baghdad, especially on Palestine Street.

According to security sources in Baghdad, Iraqi forces deployed early on Friday morning in the vicinity of Palestine Street, where pro-Iran armed factions parade annually on Quds Day.

Residents of Baghdad and politicians deplored the posters, saying that not one photo of a Palestinian was included in the massive array of posters and that Iran was yet again using the Palestinian cause for its own ends.

Iraqi MP Ahmed Al-Jarba called on Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kazimi to ask security forces to remove pictures of non-Iraqi figures that have spread in a number of provinces, saying in a statement that “placing non-Iraqi photos in Iraqi provinces is unacceptable.”

Hussein Al-Saadi, a resident of Palestine Street, told The New Arab’s Arabic language service that placing Iranian figures on Jerusalem Day nullifies the point of marching for the Palestinian cause, saying that Palestinians who have been killed by Israel should be honoured instead.

Pro-Iranian militias wield great influence in Iraq, where the government is generally unable to control their activities.

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