BAGHDAD (Reuters) – More than 200 demonstrators broke into the courtyard of Bahrain’s Embassy in Baghdad and took down the kingdom’s flag on Thursday night to protest a U.S.-led meeting in Bahrain on Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Police used live rounds to disperse the crowd, local police sources told Reuters, with no injuries reported.
“We used our vehicle loudspeakers to encourage protesters to leave the compound,” a police officer stationed near the embassy said. “After they refused, police had to fire into the air.”
One protester, who identified himself as a member of the Islamic Resistance Groups, a term usually used by Iranian-backed Shiite militias, said the protest was meant as a strong statement.
“We took down the Bahraini flag to send a clear message to all those who participated in the Bahrain conference, that we strongly reject normalizing relations with the Zionist occupiers and will never abandon our support of Palestinians,” said the protester, who identified himself as Abu Murtadha al-Moussawi. “We are ready to fight for this.”
Bahrain recalled its ambassador to Iraq for consultations on Thursday after the protests.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain condemns the attack on the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the Republic of Iraq by the demonstrators (which) led to sabotage in the embassy building,” a statement on the ministry’s website said.
The two-day conference in Manama was aimed at rallying support for a $50 billion investment plan in the Palestinian Territories as the first part of a broader White House political plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The plan has met broad disdain from Palestinians and others in the Arab world although regional U.S. allies such as Saudi Arabia discreetly support it. Neither the Israeli nor Palestinian governments attended the meeting.
Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; Additional reporting by Stephen Kalin in Riyadh; Writing by Raya Jalabi; Editing by Sandra Maler and Leslie Adler