Protesters gathered outside the Iraqi embassy on Queen’s Gate earlier this week in reaction to Iraq’s seizure of the city of Kirkuk from Kurdish forces who had occupied it for the past three years.
Last Monday, 18th October, a group of demonstrators took to the speech, carrying Kurdish flags and chanting slogans like “long live Kurdistan, long live freedom.” Police closed off a part of Queen’s Gate in both directions, and maintained a heavy presence. Fire and ambulance services were also on the scene.
Footage posted on social media shows protesters throwing objects at the building and smashing windows. Other scenes depict a number of demonstrators trying to break down the door to the embassy. One managed to enter the building and remove an Iraqi flag, which they threw to the ground and stamped on.
Protesters arrived at the embassy, which is located opposite the Blackett and Huxley buildings, shortly after 4pm. They remained in the area for over an hour before dispersing. Scotland Yard confirmed that two people had entered the building, but that nobody was arrested. The protests and seizure of Kirkuk comes three weeks after Kurds voted for independence. Although Kirkuk lies outside the borders of the autonomous Kurdistan region, it has been home to more than one million Kurds since Iraqi forces abandoned the city in 2014 to fight Islamic State. The area is rich in oil, which it primarily exports to Turkey. Trade between Kurdistan and Turkey is worth more than £7.4 billion a year. Despite this, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has threatened to shut down business relations in an attempt to set aside the result of the referendum. Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani has urged the international community for peace. He said: “We are committed to a dialogue process with Baghdad. Threats will solve nothing.”