Iraqi protesters renew rejection of Iranian influence

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Iraqi demonstrators protesting Iran’s interference in the country's politics, as well as Qusay al-Suhail’s candidacy for prime minister took to the streets on Sunday.

“We don’t want whoever wants the West’s approval and sells the country. We don’t want whoever leaves the people hungry and satisfies Iran,” protesters were heard chanting in videos posted on social media.

Officials say neighbor Iran, a key player in Iraqi politics, wants to install al-Suhail, who served as education minister in the government of Adel Abdel Mahdi, who tendered his administration's resignation in November.

A number of protesters were using shoes to hit pictures of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commander Qassem Soleimani and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Protesters also blocked off public buildings one by one in Diwaniyah, a southern Iraqi city, and put up banners reading “The country is under construction - please excuse the disruption.”

Overnight, protesters in Diwaniyah and Basra, another southern city, had declared a “general strike.”

Sunday marked the latest deadline, already pushed back twice by President Barham Saleh, for parliament to choose a new premier to replace Abdel Mahdi.

Demonstrators are calling for a complete overhaul of the regime.

The protest movement has lost momentum in recent weeks as it has been hit by intimidation, including assassinations perpetrated by militias, according to the UN.

But the movement appeared to regain some confidence on Sunday.
An estimated 450 protesters have been killed and 25,000 injured since the start of the demonstrations on October 1, 2019.

- With agencies

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