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Iraq arrests UAE spy cell amid protests

Iraqi protesters try to remove the security forces' barricades on Al-Sarafiya Bridge and try to enter the road of the high-security Green Zone, where key government offices and foreign embassies are based, during ongoing anti-government demonstrations at Tahrir Square in Iraq's capital Baghdad on 30 October 2019. [Murtadha Sudani - Anadolu Agency]
Iraqi protesters in Baghdad on 30 October 2019 [Murtadha Sudani/Anadolu Agency]

Security forces in Iraq have arrested an Emirati spying cell consisting of several Lebanese and Iraqi nationals in the capital Baghdad.

According to Sawt Al-Iraq Radio, security sources were quoted yesterday claiming that the UAE “infiltrators cell” had been carrying out subversive activities aimed at destabilising the Iraqi state, although the Iraqi authorities have yet to officially comment on the arrests.

“The UAE’s team was conducting extremely dangerous activities in Iraq aimed at overthrowing the government,” the Iraqi source said.

READ: Iraq’s PM urges protesters to stop, says unrest is hurting the economy

The accused have been identified by Iraqi agents as being responsible for financing some demonstrations in Baghdad and other cities.

The arrests comes as an unconfirmed video recently circulated on social media showed a woman distributing US dollars to Iraqi tuk tuk (rickshaw) drivers among the demonstrators, the source of these funds are unknown.

The group allegedly has direct links to the UAE’s security chief Tahnoun Bin Zayed, who is also the brother of the country’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed.

The radio station noted that Abu Dhabi is currently in talks with Baghdad via Western parties to help resolve the issue.

Although Iraq’s protests are largely centred on governmental corruption and economic mismanagement, foreign interference has been suspected with the aim of fermenting the demonstrations towards violence in order to disrupt the close ties between Baghdad and Iran.

READ: ‘Coup’ attempt in Iraq is really an attack on Iran

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