Sunday, May 1, 2016

Followers of Iraq's prominent Shiite cleric storm Baghdad Green Zone. The political system created following the U.S.-led invasion in 2003

Thousands of followers of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Saturday stormed the heavily fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad and took control of the parliament building and surrounding areas, while dozens of lawmakers, officials and employees tried to escape the government district.
The demonstrators broke into the main gate of the government district, many jumping over the barbed wired fences into the zone that houses major government offices, including the parliament and some foreign embassies.
The protesters were well-controlled by their leaders who shouted with loudspeakers that their move inside the Green Zone must be peaceful and the security forces are their brothers not enemies.
In some cases, the demonstrators beat some lawmakers and employees after they occupied the parliament halls and the offices of the parliamentary committees.
Footage aired by local media showed dozens of four-wheel drive vehicles, said to be carrying lawmakers and government officials who were trying to escape the zone, were crowded in long lines at other entrance of the zone near the Tigris River.
U.S. forces intensified security measures around their embassy compound, while thousands of Iraqi forces, who first avoided frictions with the protestors, blocked the roads leading to the prime minister compound and were negotiating with the protestors to prevent them to enter other sensitive areas in the Green Zone.
Meanwhile, Baghdad Operations Command (BOC), responsible for the security of Baghdad province, said that the security forces have blocked the entrances of Baghdad city, and have only allowed vehicles to leave the city not entering.
However, BOC Spokesman Saad Maan told the state-run Iraqiya channel that the situation in Baghdad is under control, denying some local reports that dozens of lawmakers and top officials have fled the city to Baghdad airport and that hundreds of protestors went there to prevent them from fleeing the city.
"These reports are not true. Nobody left to the airport and the flights in the airport continued as normal," Maan said.
Maan also said that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, as the Commander-in-Chief of armed forces, ordered to prevent any attempt to destroy public properties, the channel added.
Storming the Green Zone came minutes after Sadr delivered a televised speech from the holy Shiite city of Najaf, in which he rejected the latest approval of partial cabinet members presented earlier by Abadi.
"Any minister in the Iraqi government is not our candidate and represents only his government," Sadr said, confirming that he and his followers "will not participate in any political process that includes quota system."

  • Sadr referred to the political system created following the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, according to which Iraq's resources and control would be divided among the political parties representing Iraq's ethnic and sectarian factions.
He said that all the political blocs decided to vote on their loyal ministers under the title of political technocrats.
"All those political blocs decided to kill the real reform movement through today's parliament session," Sadr said, referring to the parliament session which failed earlier in the day to achieve quorum due to deep division by the political blocs over the new candidates presented by Abadi for his new cabinet.
  • Some political blocs and politicians apparently have been resisting the reforms because there is a lack of trust among the political parties who see that such reforms, or part of them, are marginalizing their factions from the political scene which originally was built on power-sharing agreements.
Sadr's discontent with the partial cabinet reshuffle, which was part of Abadi's reforms, was seen as a signal for his followers to increase pressure on the parliament by storming the Green Zone.
A series of failed reform measures have paralyzed Iraq's parliament and the government as the country struggles to fight the Islamic State (IS) militant group, which seizes swathes of territories in northern and western Iraq. The country is also in dire need to respond to an economic crisis sparked in part by a plunge in global oil prices.
 [By Agenceis Source:Xinhua]


1 comment:

  1. Iraq PM orders arrest of protesters...

    Earlier this week, hundreds of thousands of people marched towards the Green Zone, the most secure part of Baghdad that houses embassies and government buildings, to protest against the political deadlock.

    Iraqi President Fuad Masum called on politicians to enact the cabinet reshuffle.


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