Shafaq News/ MP of Sairoon bloc denounced the Mobilization of military factions at the main gate of the Green Zone in the wake of the apprehension of the PMF Operations Commander in al-Anbar, Qasim Musleh, in Baghdad yesterday.
The tension culminated in Baghdad between al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces-PMF) and the Iraqi security authorities when the latter apprehended a PMF commander over charges related to terrorism.
MP of the bloc affiliated with the Sadrist movement, Riad al-Masoudi, said in a statement to Shafaq News Agency, "Article 5 of the constitution stipulates that law is above all. PMF is an independent authority affiliated directly with the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Therefore, arresting the commander of the PMF in al-Anbar, Qasim Musleh, took place within the regular framework."
"We are surprised by the Mobilization of the Armed factions at the gate of the Green Zone and inciting the street. What happened is an arrest...the accused presumed innocent until proven guilty."
"The incident is a criminal case, not a political one. The political forces shall settle in the issue and restore the situation into normalcy."
Yesterday, Iraqi security forces arrested al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces-PMF) Operations commander in al-Anbar, Qasim Muslih, in a move security sources said was linked to attacks on a base that hosts U.S. forces.
Security sources revealed the PMF commander was arrested in al-Dawra in Baghdad for involvement in several attacks including recent assaults on Ain al-Asad airbase, where the U.S. and other international forces are housed.
The airbase was attacked at least four times this month with rockets and an unmanned aerial surveillance system, in incidents seen by many Iraqis as reflecting U.S.-Iranian tensions.
Following the arrest, PMF Brigades drove vehicles around the heavily fortified Green Zone, which hosts foreign embassies and government buildings, as a show of force, and encircled the residence of the Iraqi PM and other officials.
Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said in a statement later on Wednesday that security forces have arrested someone after an arrested warrant was issued against him in accordance with the terrorism act and based on complaints filed against him.
Al-Kadhimi did not name him in the statement but said the defendant will stay in the custody of the Joint Operations Command until the end of the investigation.
"The armed protest that took place by armed groups is a serious violation of the Iraqi constitution," Kadhimi said in his statement, adding that he had ordered an immediate investigation.
Shi'ite leaders, including Hadi al-Amiri, the leader of al-Fatah Alliance and the Secretary-General of the Badr Organization, have intervened to try to defuse the crisis and proposed transferring Muslih to the PMF custody.
Until the moment, it is unclear whether Musleh is still in the custody of the Iraqi authorities or transferred to the PMF custody.