Baghdad: More than 100 injured in clashes as protesters storm Iraqi parliament

Crowds of angry protesters loyal to the powerful cleric Muqtada al-Sadr broke into the secure area where government buildings are located despite security forces using tear gas and water cannons to disperse them.

The demonstrators then stormed the parliament, according to the Iraqi news agency State News (INA). Videos circulating on social media appeared to show people waving the Iraqi flag passing security through the gates of parliament.

At least 125 people were injured, including 100 civilians and 25 military personnel, according to the country’s health ministry.

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

“Voices of reason and wisdom are essential to prevent further violence. All actors are encouraged to de-escalate in the interest of all Iraqis,” UNAMI said in a tweet.

Outgoing Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, who is currently commander-in-chief of the armed forces, called for peace and protesters “not to aggravate the situation”.

In a statement on Saturday, he called on protesters to comply with the orders of the security forces and stressed that the security forces “have a duty to protect official institutions and stressed the need to take all lawful measures to maintain peace. ‘order”.

The protests began after Mohammed Shiya al-Sudani was officially named leader of the country on Monday by the Coordination Framework, the largest Shiite alliance in Iraq’s parliament.

Protesters cheer after entering Iraq's parliament on Saturday.
Protesters, seen here on July 30, broke through Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone for the second time this week.

His appointment follows the massive resignation of the al-Sadr parliamentary bloc, a group of more than 70 lawmakers that withdrew from the governing body last month in an apparent show of force after months of political deadlock. .

Iraq struggles to form a new government since the legislative elections in October; Sadr’s own attempts to form a government have already failed amid opposition from rival blocs.

“If the Sadrist bloc remains [in parliament] is an obstacle to the formation of government, then all lawmakers in the bloc are honorably prepared to resign from parliament,” Sadr said in a televised address in June.

The cleric, who positions himself against both Iran and the United States, is immensely popular. His bloc’s success in the October vote threatened to sideline Iran-aligned Shia blocs that have long dominated politics in the oil-rich country.

Iraqi protesters burst into parliament to denounce the appointment of a new prime minister

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

“A revolution of reform and rejection of injustice and corruption. Your message has been received. You have terrified the corrupt. Pray and go home safe,” he tweeted.

Prime Minister al-Kadhimi’s outgoing government also issued a statement calling on Sadrist protesters to “immediately withdraw from the green zone”, preserve public and private property and comply with instructions from security forces.

“Security forces will pledge to protect state institutions and international missions, and prevent any disruption of security and order,” al-Kadhimi added.

Aqeel Najim reported from Baghdad, Hamdi Alkhshali reported from Atlanta and Eyad Kourdi reported from Gaziantep. Obaida Nafaa in Dubai and Alex Stambaugh in Hong Kong contributed reporting. Ivana Kottasová wrote in London.