Situation in Syria and Iraq

A full curfew announced in Baghdad amid protests

by teleSUR

On Monday, the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC) declared a full curfew in the capital Baghdad after thousands of powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s supporters entered the Green Zone and threatened to storm main government offices.

The JOC announced that a full curfew would be enforced in Baghdad at 3:30 p.m. local and last until further notice. Thousands of al-Sadr followers went into the Green Zone, which houses some of the main government buildings, residences of Iraqi top officials, and some foreign embassies.

Before entering the zone, they rallied first at the parliament building that they occupied previously. Local media footage showed dozens of protesters inside the presidential palace, which was shortly evacuated before protesters stormed it.

The al-Sadr followers became angry after their leader al-Sadr decided to leave political life in protest against the corruption of political parties in the country. Al-Sadr said he wanted to correct the course of the political process due to the spread of corruption, which was mainly caused by his rival Shiite parties who were the majority in all the previous governments.

Meanwhile, a statement by al-Sadr’s office instructed his supporters in the Sadrist Movement not to interfere with political issues, including refrain from raising flags and chanting political slogans in the name of the movement.

The media office of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said that al-Kadhimi suspended the cabinet meetings until further notice due to the situation in the Green Zone. Political disputes have escalated in the past weeks between al-Sadr and his rivals in the Coordination Framework (CF), an umbrella group of Shiite parliamentary parties.

On July 30, al-Sadr’s followers broke into the heavily fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad and held an open sit-in in and outside the parliament building, demanding the dissolution of the parliament and early elections, all rejected by the CF parties.

The CF became the largest alliance in the Iraqi parliament after al-Sadr ordered his followers in the Sadrist Movement, the biggest winner of the Oct. 2021 elections with 73 seats, to withdraw from the parliament.

During the past months, the continued disputes among the Shiite parties have hampered the formation of a new Iraqi government, making it unable to elect a new president by a two-thirds majority of the 329-seat parliament under the constitution. If elected, the president will appoint the prime minister nominated by the largest alliance in the parliament, now the CF, to form a new government that would rule the country for the next four years.

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