Baghdad, Iraq: Several killed in clashes in Green Zone after Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announces withdrawal from politics


Several witnesses told CNN that security forces evicted protesters from the Republican palace in Iraq by firing tear gas and live bullets. Hundreds of protesters stormed the building in the Green Zone after al-Sadr’s announcement, Iraqi security officials told CNN on Monday.

The Iraqi cabinet meets in the Republican palace, and Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has now suspended all meetings of his government until further notice, according to a statement from his office. The prime minister has urged al-Sadr “to help call on the protesters to withdraw from government institutions”.

The country’s president, Barham Salih, also urged calm, saying in a statement Monday that “the difficult circumstance our country is going through requires everyone to keep calm, exercise restraint, prevent escalation and ensure that the situation does not happen.” ends up in an unknown and dangerous situation. labyrinths in which everyone will lose.”

Al-Sadr said he made a decision two months ago “not to meddle in political affairs,” but he has now announced his “permanent retirement” from politics and closed all his political offices across the country, according to a statement. released by his office on Monday.

The announcement came after weeks of tensions and protests sparked by al-Sadr’s decision in June to order his entire political bloc to withdraw from the Iraqi parliament in an apparent display of power after months of political deadlock.

At the time, he said his request was “a sacrifice of mine for the land and the people to rid them of the unknown fate”.

Iraq has struggled to form a new government since October’s parliamentary elections in which Iran-backed Shia blocs lost seats to the sadrists.

Al-Sadr, who has positioned himself against both Iran and the United States in the past, is popular in Iraq. However, his efforts to form a government have floundered in the months after the election amid opposition from rival blocs.

Finally, in July, the Coordination Framework, the largest Shia alliance in the Iraqi parliament, nominated Mohammed Shiya al-Sudani to lead the country — sparking a wave of protests from those loyal to al-Sadr.

Iraqi security forces on Monday called on thousands of protesters to immediately withdraw from the Green Zone. In a statement, the Iraqi military said it “applies the highest levels of restraint and brotherly conduct to avoid clashes or the shedding of Iraqi blood.”

“The security forces affirm their responsibility to protect government institutions, international missions and public and private property,” the statement said, adding: “Dealing with peaceful demonstrations is through the constitution and laws, and the security forces will do their duty to security and stability.”

The military has imposed a full curfew, including for vehicles and pedestrians, from 3:30 p.m. local time in the capital and 7:00 p.m. local time in the rest of the country. The curfew is in effect until further notice, a military statement said.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) has also urged protesters to leave government buildings and “allow the government to continue its responsibility for running the state” for the Iraqi people.

“State institutions must serve the Iraqi people unimpeded, under all circumstances and at all times. Respect for the constitutional order will now prove to be vital,” UNAMI said in a statement released Monday.

The US embassy in Baghdad also urged calm, tweeting that “it is now time for dialogue to resolve differences, not confrontation”.
“The right to peaceful public protest is a fundamental part of all democracies, but protesters must also respect the Iraqi government’s institutions and property that belong to, serve, and function for the Iraqi people,” the embassy added. .

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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