Iraqi Protestors Storm Parliament Amid Political Deadlock
Hundreds of Iraqi protesters stormed Baghdad’s parliament on Wednesday, most of them supporters of populist Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Al-Sadr’s supporters demonstrated against the nomination of Mohammed Shia’ Al Sudani, the pick for premier of the Coordination Framework, the Iraqi umbrella group of Shi’ite parliamentary parties.
The Coordination Framework became the largest alliance in the Iraqi parliament after al-Sadr ordered his followers in the Sadrist Movement to withdraw from parliament as talks to form a new government stalled.
No lawmakers were present in parliament when the protestors stormed the capital’s high-security Green Zone, where government buildings and diplomatic missions are located.
Only security forces were in the building, appearing to allow the protestors inside.
Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi called on the protestors to “immediately withdraw” from the Green Zone.
Al-Sadr supporters similarly stormed the parliament in 2016, staging a sit-in and issuing demands for political reform after then Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi sought to replace party-affiliated ministers with technocrats in an anti-corruption drive.
This is Iraq’s longest post-election deadlock, as infighting among Shi’ite and Kurdish groups prevent the formation of a government, stalling reforms needed as the country struggles to recover from decades of conflict.
The paralysis has left Iraq without a budget for 2022, holding up spending on much-needed infrastructure projects and economic reform.
Iraqis say the situation is exacerbating a lack of services and jobs despite Baghdad earning record oil income due to high crude prices and reduced military spending since the defeat of the Islamic State group five years ago.