Baghdad: Over 100 injured in clashes as protesters storm Iraqi parliament

Crowds of angry demonstrators loyal to the powers that be priest Muqtada al-Sadr broke into a protected area where government buildings are located, despite the fact that security forces used tear gas and water cannons to disperse them.

According to the Iraqi State News Agency (INA), the protesters then broke into the parliament. Videos circulating on social media have surfaced showing people waving the Iraqi flag walking past security through the doors of parliament.

According to the Ministry of Health of the country, at least 125 people were injured, including 100 civilians and 25 military personnel.

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) described the recent escalation in tensions as “deeply troubling”.

“The voices of reason and wisdom are critical to preventing further violence. All involved are encouraged to de-escalate for the benefit of all Iraqis,” UNAMI said in a tweet.

Outgoing Prime Minister Mustafa al-Qadimi urged protesters to be “calm, patient and rational” in a televised speech on Saturday.

“We must all work together to stop those who are making this problem worse, and everyone must know very well that the fire of the rebellion will burn everyone,” Kadhimi said.

The Prime Minister stated that a solution is possible through constructive dialogue, saying “the dilemma is political and its solution is political and the solution is possible through sincere and constructive dialogue and concessions for the sake of Iraq and the Iraqis.”

The protests began after the largest Shia alliance in the Iraqi parliament formally nominated Mohammed Shia al-Sudani for the presidency on Monday.

Protesters welcome the entrance to the Iraqi parliament on Saturday.
Demonstrators seen here on July 30 broke through the heavily fortified green zone of Baghdad for the second time in a week.

His nomination follows the mass resignation of al-Sadr’s parliamentary bloc, a group of more than 70 lawmakers who withdrew from the governing body last month in a clear show of strength after months of political deadlock.

Iraq struggled to form a new government after parliamentary elections in October; Sadr’s own attempts to form a government had previously failed due to opposition from rival blocs.

“If the Sadrov bloc remains [in parliament] is an obstacle to the formation of a government, then all the deputies of the bloc are ready to leave parliament with honor,” Sadr said in a televised speech in June.

The cleric, who positions himself against both Iran and the United States, is very popular. The success of his bloc in the October elections jeopardized the Iranian-linked Shiite blocs that have long dominated politics in the oil-rich country.

Iraqi protesters storm parliament to denounce nomination of new prime minister

On Wednesday, al-Sadr told protesters outside the parliament building that their “message” had been received and that they should return home.

“Reform revolution and rejection of injustice and corruption. Your message has been received. You scared the corrupt. Pray and return home safely,” he tweeted.

The outgoing government of Prime Minister al-Kadhimi also issued a statement urging Sadrist protesters to “leave the Green Zone immediately”, preserve public and private property and comply with instructions from the security forces.

“The security forces will be committed to protecting state institutions and international missions, as well as preventing any breach of security and order,” al-Qadimi added.

Akil Najim reported from Baghdad, Hamdi Alkhshali reported from Atlanta, and Eyad Kurdi reported from Gaziantep. Obaida Nafaa from Dubai and Alex Stambo from Hong Kong contributed reporting. Ivana Kottasova wrote in London.