Protesters try to remove concrete barriers and cross the bridge towards the Green Zone area in Baghdad, Iraq. 30 July, 2022. (Photo credit: AP/Ali Abdul Hassan)
Thousands of supporters of influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr descended upon the Green Zone in the Iraqi capital on 30 July, breaking into parliament for the second time over the span of three days.
The Sadrists pushed past security forces in the heavily fortified district of Baghdad, which houses government buildings and foreign embassies.
According to local reports, guards fired tear gas and water cannons at the advancing crowds, but were unable to stop them from approaching parliament.
As they advanced, protesters chanted: “All the people are with you, Sayyed Muqtada.”
Clashes were also reported in the area, with several injured.
On 20 July, hundreds of protesters occupied the Iraqi parliament building for over two hours in protest of the planned nomination by the Coordination Framework (CF) of Mohammed al-Sudani for the post of prime minister.
They finally retreated from parliament at the command of Al-Sadr.
The CF is an ad-hoc group of Shia-majority parties, including the Fatah Alliance, the political arm of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU).
Last month, Al-Sadr ordered all of his lawmakers to resign from parliament and then announced his own retirement from Iraqi politics, after failing for eight months to form a government.
Since then, the CF has been leading negotiations to form a new government for Iraq.
“We don’t want the corrupt; we don’t want those who have been in power to return … since 2003 … they have only brought us harm,” a protester told AFP on Saturday.
Since his resignation, Al-Sadr has displayed his influence over large swathes of the Iraqi population.
On 15 July, the leader of the Sadrist movement mobilized hundreds of thousands of worshippers for Friday prayers, filling the Al-Falah street of Sadr City – the cleric’s stronghold.
Following the prayers, Sheikh Mahmoud al-Jiyashi read a speech written by Al-Sadr in which he called for the dissolution of armed groups that have deep ties with Iran, referring to the PMU, also known as the Hashd al-Shaabi.