Baghdad – Iraqi capital city Baghdad declared a state of emergency on Saturday, after protesters entered the Iraq’s parliament, located in the International Zone. Media from the country have shown citizens requesting a government reform, while shouting chants. Some officials were reproached and hit with flags as they abandoned the building, others remained inside.
All roads in the city have been closed, said the Baghdad Operations Command, as reported by The Washington Post. The United States Embassy offices are located a mile away from the parliament, however, embassies have not been attacked due to orders of the protest’s organizers.
The International Zone, also known as the Green Zone, has limited access to most Iraqi citizens. The burst of demonstrators in the area comes after months of street claims. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has tried to restructure the cabinet to assess orders of protesters, who have been encouraged by the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, explained TWP.
The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) has urged the government and political leaders to work jointly and dialogue, in order to bring back security. The institution is operating from its headquarters in the Green Zone and is currently talking to parties to “facilitate a solution,” according to a statement issued Saturday via Facebook.
“The Mission condemns the use of violence, including against elected officials, and urges calm, restraint and respect for Iraq’s constitutional institutions at this crucial juncture. UNAMI calls on the Government, all political leaders and civil society to work together to immediately restore security,” said the UNAMI in a statement.
Sabah al-Numan, a spokesman for the counterterrorism forces, said that opposition acts are still being seen as “a demonstration.” On the other hand, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said security forces were in control of the situation, and invited people to protest in peace, without affecting the “property of state institutions,” as reported by the Associated Press.
Muqtada al-Sadr supports an uprising against government officials
Prior today’s protests, thousands of Iraqis had gathered around the Green Zone during the week. This area is described as “the most secure part of Baghdad,” while it is the home of many ministries and politicians, said the BBC. On Saturday afternoon, protesters climbed over the walls and headed to the Parliament.
Muqtada al-Sadr, an Iraqi Shia cleric who is against the American troop presence in Iraq, made a news conference minutes before protesters break into the Green Zone. The politician said the government was against reform. “I’m waiting for a major uprising of the Iraqi people.” he was quoted as saying by TWP.
Source: The Associated Press