Iraqi protest on the first anniversary of the October revolution (Photo credit: Ruptly)
Thousands of protestors gathered in Baghdad on 1 October to commemorate the third anniversary of the Iraqi revolution that ousted then-prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi.
According to the United States Institute of Peace, more than 400 people were killed and several thousand injured during the protests in 2019.
In the past few days, the ‘Supreme Coordination of Protests in Iraq’ announced an agreement to organize mass protests in Baghdad and occupy the Green Zone.
The demonstration comes in light of a power struggle between political forces. The political deadlock is the longest political crisis since the US toppled former leader Saddam Hussein.
Despite attempts by the political leadership and opposition in the country, supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr and the Coordination Framework (CF) have been pushing toward an inter-Shit conflict.
In a statement, the Iraqi Security Media Cell (ISMC) announced that it has observed the work of infiltrators who abetted violence between the demonstrators.
The statement accused those elements of using Molotov cocktails, hunting rifles, and military gear, and called on “the organizers of the protests to hand over these infiltrators to the security forces in order to maintain peace.”
According to the Iraqi News Agency, security forces will continue to coordinate with the demonstrators to ensure the safety of both sides.
An official of the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior told AFP that 18 anti-riot police were slightly injured after they were struck by stones and glass bottles when rioters stormed the gate at the Republic Bridge during the night.
Additionally, more than 28 protestors and journalists, including a cameraman of Kurdish TV Rudaw were injured by tear gas used to disperse the crowds.
A group of protestors stormed the Al-Nusor area and blocked Al-Qadisiyah bridge, while another was pushed back during the early morning hours by security forces towards the Mohammed al-Qassem bridge. At least one 122 mm rocket was reportedly fired at the Green Zone by militant groups.
During the early morning hours, protestors raised banners in support of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kazimi and the flag of the Saraya al-Salam militant group.
Saraya al-Salam is the armed wing of Muqtada al-Sadr’s movement in Iraq and has been responsible for organizing today’s protests for the third anniversary of the October 2019 protests in Iraq.
Sadr announced his retirement from politics for the second time in 2022 but continues to influence the political atmosphere with his large base of supporters.
Though Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sadrist movement was able to win 73 out of 329 seats in early elections back in October 2021, his political party failed to create a coalition government leading to the withdrawal of all MPs in June.
While Sadr and his supporters demand new elections, the Coordination Framework and its supporters have been pushing for their constitutional task to form a new government, but have recently agreed to hold new elections as a sign of good faith.
Earlier in August, the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) revealed that half of Saraya al-Salam’s manpower has been allocated to the Green Zone “to secure and sustain the Sadrist sit-in.”