Iraqi Cardinal Sako Condemns Assassination Attempt on Prime Minister Al-Kadhimi

Prime Minister of Iraq Mustafa al-Kadhimi speaks during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (not in image) at the Chancellery in Berlin on October 20, 2020. (Photo by STEFANIE LOOS / various sources / AFP) (Photo by STEFANIE LOOS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
STEFANIE LOOS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako has condemned Sunday’s drone attack on Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, saying the attempt sought to “destabilize” the country.

“It is not yet known who is behind this episode,” Cardinal Sako told AsiaNews, “but it is clear that the goal is to destabilize, create confusion, and interrupt the work started by the prime minister, who wants to build a project of Iraq that is not isolated” on the international level.

The attack, thus, sought to obstruct the project of a strong Iraq, a state “based on law, citizenship, order and justice,” Sako said.

Sunday’s attack on the prime minister’s home in the heavily fortified Green Zone of Baghdad using armed drones left six bodyguards wounded, but al-Kadhimi himself escaped unharmed.

The Chaldean primate said that many of the faithful were confused by the attack, reacting with “sadness” and “prayers,” because many appreciate the leader’s attempts at national reform.

“Among the faithful there was great sadness for the attack, but also happiness because he was saved,” Sako said. “Many believe that his work of reform is genuine and beneficial to the nation. So far he has never wanted to use weapons to solve problems; he requests and relaunches the principles of dialogue and encounter, even with his enemies or political opponents.”

Among possible perpetrators of the assault, Sako excludes the Islamic State, proposing similarities with the mortar and drone attacks at the Erbil airport in Iraqi Kurdistan and the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

“The project is to target al-Kadhimi as a representative of the state,” the cardinal said. “I myself felt the explosions, because the patriarchate is not far from the Green Zone.”

The Associated Press (AP) reported that the attack appeared to be driven by the refusal of Iran-backed Shiite militias to accept October 10’s parliamentary election results.

On November 5, militias linked to Tehran promoted massive street demonstrations, reviving accusations of voter fraud and contesting the election results. For their part, the Chaldean bishops have supported a strong government to curb a situation of growing chaos and violence.

Iraqi demonstrators lift banners against Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi during a protest rejecting last month’s election result, near an entrance to the Green Zone in Baghdad on November 5, 2021 (AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images).

For its part, al-Kadhimi’s office released a statement speaking of a “cowardly terrorist attack” launched by “armed criminal groups.” The attack used three drones, the statement said, two of which were shot down, while the third managed to strike the residence, injuring at least six of the premier’s bodyguards.

This photo released by the Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office shows the damage of the drone attack at the home of Iraq's Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi at the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021. Iraq's Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi survived an assassination attempt with armed drones that targeted his residence early Sunday and officials said he escaped unharmed. (Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office via AP)

This photo released by the Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office shows the damage of the drone attack at the home of Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi at the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021 (Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office via AP).

“Cowardly rocket and drone attacks don’t build homelands and don’t build a future,” al-Kadhimi said, speaking on Iraqi television.

Nechirvan Barani, the president of the Kurdish Regional Government, similarly labeled the failed assassination attempt a “terrorist act” that “threatens security and stability in the country and portends dire consequences.”

“I invite everyone to exercise restraint and calm down,” Barani said.

As yet, no person or group has claimed responsibility for the strike, which has been unanimously condemned by Iraqi leaders as well as the United Nations, the United States, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.

“I ask all the Christians of Iraq to pray for the good of the country, to wait calmly and confidently, not to be carried away by the opposing tensions, but to remain a source of balance,” the cardinal said.

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