Security forces deploy across Baghdad

Security forces deploy across Baghdad

Measures taken akin to state of emergency, says Iraqi official, after PM says he will file complaint against president in new political crisis

Iraq's Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (photo credit: AP/ Khalid Mohammed)
Iraq's Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (photo credit: AP/ Khalid Mohammed)

Security sources told AFP of a massive security deployment, akin to measures taken in a state of emergency, across the Iraqi capital Baghdad, after the Prime Minister Nouri al-Mailiki said he would file a complaint against President Fouad Mussam after accusing him of committing a “clear constitutional violation” for failing to appoint PM by deadline

“There is a huge security presence, police and army, especially around the Green Zone,” the highly-protected district that houses Iraq’s key institutions, a high-ranking police officer said.

He said the deployment started at around 10:30 pm (1930 GMT), just 90 minutes before al Maliki gave his speech.

While it remains unclear whether Maliki has a valid constitutional argument, the mass deployment of counter-terrorism SWAT teams across Baghdad was an obvious show of force.

“There is security everywhere in Baghdad, these are very unusual measures,” the police official said.

“Several streets have been closed… as well as some key bridges,” said an official at the interior ministry. “It’s all linked to the political situation.”

In his brief address earlier Sunday, Maliki said Iraq was facing a “dangerous” situation and urged “the sons of Iraq” to be on alert.

Masum is a Kurd and relations between Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq have been strained of late.

Kurdish peshmerga fighters then seized long-coveted areas over which they were in dispute with Baghdad, including the oil-rich Kirkuk region, when routed federal forces retreated in the face of the jihadist onslaught two months ago.

That prompted Maliki to accuse the Kurdistan Regional Government of siding with the Islamic State (IS) group and the “caliphate” it declared in late June over parts of Iraq and Syria.

Cash-strapped Kurdistan’s troops initially fared better than Baghdad’s but over the past week jihadists made spectacular gains, seizing the country’s largest dam and advancing within striking distance of the Kurdish capital Arbil.

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