Iran’s top envoy in Iraq opened a new consulate for his country in the oil-rich city of Basra on Tuesday, just four days after the previous one was torched by angry protesters.
Over the past few months in general, and last week in particular, Basra has witnessed a number of violent protests as people, angry about the chronic lack of basic services and widespread corruption in public institutions, took to the streets by the thousands.
During last week’s flare-up, protesters burned dozens of government and party offices in the southern province.
“I’m here to inaugurate the new premises of our Iranian consulate in Basra … because we don’t want to lose a single day of services for the people of Basra,” said Iranian Ambassador to Iraq Iraj Masjedi, as quoted by AFP.
Iran is one of Iraq’s key allies, along with the US. The two neighboring countries have strong political and economic relations.
Protesters entered and set the consulate alight on Friday, causing its documents, equipment, and supplies to go up in smoke. No staff members were killed or injured as a result of the actions.
Following the incident, Iran said the responsibility for any negligence lies with the Iraqi government for failing to protect the foreign office. Later, the government announced an investigation into the security forces responsible for protecting the building.
In addition to its Embassy in Baghdad, Iran has five consulates across Iraq, two of which are in the Kurdistan Region’s Erbil and Sulaimani.
In the coming 10 days, thousands of Shia Muslim pilgrims from Iran are expected to travel to Iraq for the yearly ritual of Ashura and then again in October to commemorate the observance of Arbaeen.