MESOPOTAMIA NEWS TOP OF THE AGENDA : Iraq Protests Escalate With Iran Consulate Attack

Three people were killed and twelve others wounded in clashes between Iraqi security forces and anti-government protesters who tried to storm the Iranian consulate (Reuters) in the central city of Karbala, according to the country’s human rights commission.

Iraq’s foreign minister condemned the consulate attack, calling the security of diplomatic offices a “red line that cannot be crossed.” Protesters criticized (WSJ) what they say is Iranian influence in Baghdad as well as violence against protesters by Iran-backed militias. Demonstrators near the southern city of Basra blocked access to a vital port over the weekend. Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi called for an end to the protests (Al Jazeera), saying they have cost the country billions of dollars.

“Both the United States and Iran tacitly support [Iraq’s sectarian spoils] system, but most Iraqis do not. And now they—particularly young Shiites who are no longer willing to be subservient to Iran-backed communal leaders now that the danger posed by the Islamic State has passed—are rebelling,” writes CFR’s Max Boot.

“The protests have underscored a new reality for Iran and its proxies. No matter the self-styled revolutionary politics of the Iranian regime, it’s turning into a counterrevolutionary power in the region,” Ishaan Tharoor writes for the Washington Post.