OTTAWA – Iraq’s ambassador to Canada is asking why his request for more police protection wasn’t answered hours before protesters tried to force their way into his embassy.
The diplomatic mission in downtown Ottawa was forced into lockdown for about half an hour on Tuesday after protesters pushed their way to the entrance, only to be stopped by heavy glass doors.
The protesters also broke into the adjoining parking lot and allegedly hit one of the embassy’s staff and burned the mission’s Iraqi flag before retreating across the street to hold signs.
The crowd of about 30, which Iraqi embassy staff accused of being Kurds mainly from Iran and Turkey, dispersed after RCMP officers arrived about 20 minutes later.
Iraqi Ambassador Abdul Kareem Kaab says he was expecting a protest and had asked the RCMP to increase its presence at the diplomatic mission, but didn’t receive any response.
He says police should also have been quicker to respond once the protesters did arrive.
“We were expecting this and we had asked the RCMP to provide us with security patrols or something,” he said. “But regrettably they did not respond. We sent an official memo to them.”
An RCMP spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
Many Iraqis have been on heightened alert since Monday, when the Iraqi military wrested the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and several other contested areas away from Kurdish forces.
There have been some reports of fighting between the two sides, both of which have received training and equipment from Canada as part of its mission against the so-called Islamic State.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered the lands seized after the Kurds held a controversial independence referendum on Sept. 25, which included those contested lands.