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Protesters target Bahrain embassy in Baghdad

Protesters targeted the Bahrain embassy (السفارة البحرينية) in Baghdad on Thursday night in the wake of the US-backed conference in Manama that sought support for the Palestinian economy. Photos showed protesters with Palestinian flags and also burning Israeli and American flags earlier in the day. At night protesters appeared to climb onto the roof of a building.

Saudi Arabia’s Gulf Affairs Minister Thamer Al-Sabhan (ثامر السبهان) condemned the incident as “very unfortunate.”

Al-Arabiya wrote about the incident before midnight that Bahrain was in touch with Iraqi authorities and also that some of the protesters might have been armed. The news station tweeted: أنباء عن أن بعض المتظاهرين كانوا مسلحين عند اقتحام السفارة البحرينية في بغداد

The demonstration grew around 9:40pm at night. Video showed the protests trying to gain access to the building after climbing on the roof and waving flags. Bahrain’s Foreign Minister express openness to Israel and Jews. In Iraq many pro-Iranian groups and pro-Palestinian activists were outraged. Over the last two days there has been growing incitement against the Gulf Arab countries in Iraq. Kata’ib Hezbollah, a Shi’ite paramilitary linked to Iran, condemned Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and their allies as “tools” of the US and accused them of being allied to “Zionists.” In addition Iran has accused Bahrain of “betrayal” for hosting the summit.

This was similar language to a June 25 condemnation of the Bahrain conference by Kata'ib Hezbollah:

مماليك الخليج انما تحرق ملكها بعارها وتحفر قبرها بيدها

Image of the signs at the protest

Some protesters came with fatigues and camo pants which may have indicated a link to paramilitary groups. They carried signs that said "no to the deal of the century" and accused Arab regimes, apparently in the Gulf, of being "Zionists," claiming they had "sold their Arab identity for a failed deal." It refers to the Gulf countries as "kingdoms of the sand."

A map of the area of the incident shows it is located near the Green Zone and Russian embassy. This leads to questions about security forces response.

Map of the area of the incident

Video on Aletejah TV showed the protesters “storming” the embassy. The Bahrain Ministry of Foreign Affairs website says their embassy in Baghdad is located in Al-Mansour district in an alley. The Embassy’s office is in the al-Rashid Hotel, the same site says. These are apparently two different locations. The Mansour district area also includes the Russian embassy, which is west of the Green Zone.

Bahrain already has tense relations with Baghdad after accusing leading politician Muqtada al-Sadr in April of meddling in Bahrain’s affairs. On June 21 Bahrain condemned a terror attack in Baghdad that targeted a mosque and expressed condolences with the victims.

Discussion in Iraq and the region focuses on whether the embassy protest was linked to Shi'ite militias. Iraqi forces arrived at the embassy in the evening. Photos from the evening were added to social media and videos from other angles also appeared.

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