Middle East. Demonstrators killed, national curfew … the point on the political crisis in Iraq

Iraq, in a political stalemate since the October 2021 legislative elections, continues to sink into crisis. After another burst of brilliance from Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr, who announced on Monday his “definitive withdrawal” from the political scene, the situation has suddenly degenerated in the capital.

Fifteen Sadr supporters killed

Hundreds of Sadrists invaded the Palace of the Republic where the Council of Ministers sits. As they took over the offices, settling into armchairs, jumping in the swimming pool or taking selfies, the police intervened, firing tear gas canisters to disperse the demonstrators. at the entrances to the Green Zone, which houses the headquarters of the institutions and the American embassy.

Fifteen supporters of Moqtada Sadr were shot dead and 350 others injured, according to a new report provided by medical sources to theAFP in the evening. Some injured were shot, others inhaled tear gas.

Witnesses told AFP of exchanges of fire between Sadrists and supporters of the Coordination Framework, a pro-Iran rival of the Moqtada Sadr camp, at the entrances to the Green Zone. And Dn the evening, at least seven mortar shells fell in this ultra-secure perimeter, indicated a security source who was not able to provide an assessment. The origin of the shots was also unknown.

A national curfew decreed

The army decreed a national curfew which came into effect at 7 p.m. local time, and the security forces crisscrossed the capital. In the evening the curfew seemed respected in Baghdad. The usually bustling streets were empty of any cars or passers-by.

But the chaos spread to other Iraqi regions: in the province of Zi Qar (south), Sadrists invaded the seat of the governorate and entered other official buildings in Nassiriyah, according to an AFP journalist. The seat of the governorate of Babylon (center), in the city of Hilla, was also occupied by supporters of Moqtada Sadr, witnesses said. Several roads linking Hilla to Baghdad and other southern provinces have also been cut.

The United States calls for calm

The White House deemed the situation “worrying” and called for calm and dialogue. The UN mission in Iraq, whose headquarters are in the Green Zone, for its part called on all parties to exercise “maximum restraint”. In the evening, the Coordination Framework condemned the “attack against state institutions”, while calling on the Sadrists to “dialogue”.

Why is the country facing a political crisis?

For nearly a year, the political barons have been unable to agree on the name of a new prime minister. Iraq therefore has neither a new government nor a new president since the legislative elections. To get out of the crisis, Moqtada Sadr and the Coordination Framework agree on one point: a new early election is needed. But if Moqtada Sadr insists on dissolving parliament first, his rivals want to appoint a government first.

Moqtada Sadr, as influential as he is unpredictable, has been upping the ante in recent weeks. For the past month, his supporters have camped near Parliament and even briefly blocked access to the country’s highest judicial body.

This Monday, in a new twist, he announced his “definitive withdrawal” from politics and the closure of institutions linked to his family. The Shiite leader is very influential, his religious and political aura affects part of the Shiite community, the majority in Iraq. Arrived first in the legislative elections with 73 seats (out of 329) but, unable to form a majority, he had his deputies resign in June, claiming to want to “reform” the system from top to bottom and put an end to “corruption”. But until now, the spat between the Sadrists and the Coordination Framework had not degenerated into violence.

Source: Le Progrès : info et actu nationale et régionale – Rhône, Loire, Ain, Haute-Loire et Jura | Le Progrès by www.leprogres.fr.

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