Iraq PM axes Green Zone commander after security breach

Iraq PM axes Green Zone commander after security breach
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi sacked the top military commander in charge of Baghdad's Green Zone Wednesday, after protesters breached the off-limits home of Iraqi government institutions and foreign embassies.
2 min read
05 May, 2016
Iraq's premier sacked the commander of special forces in Baghdad's Green Zone after protesters breached the fortified area, a military statement said on Wednesday.

The removal of Staff Lieutenant General Mohammad Ridha could indicate that security forces will take a harder line against demonstrators who are expected to protest again later this week.

Angry demonstrators, most of them supporters of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, broke into the Green Zone and stormed parliament on Saturday in an unprecedented security breach.

Iraqi premier Haider al-Abadi issued an order "for the relief of special forces division commander Mohammed Ridha," who will be replaced by Major General Karim Aboud al-Tamimi, a statement from Iraq's Joint Operations Command said.

Ridha kissed Sadr's hand when he entered the Green Zone in March during a sit-in organised by the cleric, who has demanded the government carry out reforms.

Demonstrators are expected to protest on Friday and may attempt to re-enter the Green Zone, which is home to Iraq's main government institutions as well as various embassies, including those of the United States and Britain.

Angry protesters broke into the area after lawmakers again failed to approve new ministers proposed by Abadi.

Abadi has called for the current cabinet of party-affiliated ministers to be replaced by a government of technocrats.

But his efforts have been opposed by powerful political parties that rely on control of ministries for patronage and funds.

Agencies contributed to this report.