Iraq: Sadr supporters attack parliament building

Supporters of Shia cleric Muktada al-Sadr climbed the wall of Baghdad’s safest area ‘Green Zone’ before entering parliament. The country has been battling a political impasse for several months, with no solution in sight.

In the capital Baghdad, hundreds of protesters entered the Parliament House, crossing the barricades in the ‘Green Zone’ area, the safest area for security. The ‘Green Zone’ is the area where government offices and diplomatic buildings are located.

Iraq

All these protesters are said to be supporters of influential Shia cleric Muktada al-Sadr and were recently opposing the nomination of Mohammed al-Sudani as prime minister. When the protesters entered the Parliament House, no MP was present there.

Some of the protesters climbed the walls around the compound, raising slogans such as “Sudani out”. In some photos and videos, protesters can be seen walking on the tables of the building and waving the Iraqi flag inside the parliament.

Nine months of political deadlock

Iraq

Caretaker Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has urged protesters to maintain peace and end demonstrations in the Green Zone. “Security forces will ensure the safety of institutions and foreign missions and prevent any damage to security and order,” he warned in a statement.

Since the elections held in October last year, political parties have failed to come to an agreement on choosing a national leader. This is how the Middle Eastern country has been without a regular prime minister for a long time.

Al-Sadr’s faction won the most seats in the election, but talks with other parties stalled as Kurdish and Shia lawmakers failed to reach an agreement. Al-Sadr and his supporters are Shia but they oppose other Shia parties with strong ties to Iran, such as the Coordination Framework Party of Mohammed al-Sudani.

Al-Sadr ordered his lawmakers to resign en masse after failing to garner enough support to elect a new president. The parliament in Iraq formally elects the president before deciding on the position of prime minister.

The resignation of 73 of Sadr’s lawmakers in the 329-seat parliament paved the way for new lawmakers to be sworn in, but the pro-Iranian political bloc grew in size and is now the largest political block.

The growing power of pro-Iranian groups in parliament has fueled fears that if the group tightens its grip on power, al-Sadr supporters may take to the streets to protest against him and start a new wave of violence.

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