Protestors Storm Iraq’s Parliament
On July 22, Iraqi demonstrators stormed the Council Representatives of Iraq building in the Baghdad Green Zone–an area housing several government buildings including Iraq’s Parliament–in support of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, denouncing Mohammed Shia’ Al Sudani, who was nominated by the Coordination Framework (CF) to be Prime Minister of the new Iraqi Government.
This unrest was triggered after a ten-month political deadlock after al-Sadr’s party won the largest number of seats in the federal elections, but was unable to form an effective national government since he did not have the two-thirds majority required for electing new leadership. Sadr and his supporters advocate for a national majority government, contrary to the CF, which is largely regarded in the country as a pro-Iran coalition. Following Mohammad Shia’ al-Sudani’s nomination as prime minister, Sadr’s parliamentary bloc resigned en masse ceding control to the CF. Frustrated, Sadr supporters forced their way into the legislative chamber, announcing a sit-in until further notice. ""We don't want Mr Sudani,"" said one protester to a journalist.
Protestors demanded that Sudani’s nomination should be withdrawn, accused him of corruption and weary of his close ties with the former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Sudani served as Minister of Human Rights under Maliki’s premiership from 2010 to 2014 and received his prime minister nomination from the CF led by Maliki’s State of Law and Popular Mobilization Forces’ Fatah alliance. The sit-in is intended to derail “Iran-backed groups'' efforts to reform the government, presumably due to past tensions from the Iran-Iraq war. This approach has been used by Sadr’s supporters in the past, when they broke into parliament once before in 2016, demanding similar political reforms from the then prime minister Haidar al-Abadi.
The Iraq Ministry of Health reported 125 people were injured in the violence–100 protesters and 25 members of the security forces. Al-Sadr, despite not being present at the scene, seemed to be supportive of his followers’ efforts tweeting that “[the sit-in is] a great opportunity to radically challenge the political system, the constitution, and the elections."" However, the United Nations’ Secretary General, António Gutteres, has issued a statement calling for immediate “steps to de-escalate the situation, avoid any further violence, and ensure the protection of peaceful protesters and State institutions.”
Editors: Amshu V., Chris F., Amber T., Uzayer M., Lang D.
**Written August, 2022**