BAGHDAD (AP) — At least nine rockets targeted Iraq’s parliament inside the heavily fortified Green Zone on Thursday ahead of a much-anticipated session to resolve a political crisis, Iraq’s military said.
The rocket attack delayed but did not postpone the parliament session scheduled to take place to elect a president, a key step toward resolving Iraq’s stalled government formation one year since federal elections were held. Quorum was reached to hold the session in the afternoon with at least 269 lawmakers of the 329 attending the session.
At least five people were wounded in the attack — three were civilians and two were military personnel — the officials said without giving more details. The culprits were not immediately known.
The attacks, which appeared to be an attempt to derail the scheduled session, struck after the Coordination Framework, an alliance made up of mostly Iran-backed Shiite parties, submitted a formal letter claiming to be the largest bloc in Parliament. The alliance named Mohammed Shia al-Sudani as their nominee for the premiership, a key legal step before the next government can be formed.
Many feared protests by the followers of influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, a political opponent of the Framework, ahead of the session. His supporters stormed the parliament on June 30 and stalled the government formation process when al-Sudani was first named nominee by the Framework.
Al-Sadr’s party won the largest number of seats in the October 2021 federal election, but he ordered his lawmakers to resign after failing to secure a quorum to vote in a government that would exclude his Iran-backed allies.
Mark Bryson-Richardson, Britain’s ambassador to Iraq, called the attack, “completely unacceptable.”
“Violence has no part in the political process and state institutions must be allowed to operate,” he tweeted.
Under Iraqi law, before lawmakers can vote on the nominee for the premiership, they must elect a president.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
It was not the first time rocket attacks have targeted the parliament building as lawmakers prepared to attend a session.
On Sept. 28, three rockets targeted the Green Zone as a session was convened to renew confidence in parliament speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi.