October 03, 2019

Menendez Statement on Growing Unrest in Iraq amid Internet Blackout

New Delhi, India – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement on the developing situation in Iraq, where growing unrest has reportedly led to a death toll of over 18 after Iraqi authorities imposed a curfew and blocked off access to the internet.

“The people of Iraq have a fundamental right to protest peacefully, and advocate for legitimate and long-standing grievances.  I urge all Iraqis, including those in the government and Iraqi Security Forces, to work to reduce tensions and deescalate violence.  I also urge the Iraqi government and Iraqi Security Forces to act with restraint and to ensure that access to the internet and social media remains available. Peacefully protesting is a fundamental right, and it is imperative for Iraqi officials to work with the people to continue building a responsive, transparent, and inclusive government.

“While the Iraqi Security Forces have defeated the Islamic State’s physical caliphate, its enduring defeat requires continued support for recovery and stabilization that allows Iraqis of all sects and ethnicities to live in a peaceful and stable Iraq.

“I also call on the Trump Administration to develop and implement a clear and coherent policy towards Iraq. I remain concerned about the impact of this Administration’s ongoing drawdown of U.S. Embassy and Consulate staff in Iraq on securing American interests.  In order to effectively confront the destabilizing forces that threaten Iraqi stability, including a resurgent ISIS and ambitious Iran, the United States must continue working with the Iraqi people to support democratic institutions, promote an inclusive political process, and train the Iraqi Security Forces.”

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