Iraqis heed a cleric’s call to relatives attends a Baghdad man’s burial in Najaf, Iraq, on Aug. 30, 2022. Muqtada al-Sadr’s followers stormed the government palace after he announced his resignation from Iraqi politics. At least 15 protestors died in clashes with security police. (Anmar Khalil/AP) escaped the streets following clashes.
Muqtada al-Sadr instructed his supporters to evacuate the government quarter where they had assembled after two days of deadly rioting. Some dismantled their tents and left the Green Zone within minutes.
The Iraqi military lifted a nationwide curfew, which gave people hope that the current crisis was ending. However, there are still bigger political problems that need to be solved.
Since al-party Sadr’s won the most seats in October elections but not enough for a majority administration, Iraq’s government has been deadlocked. Al-Shiite Sadr’s followers and his Iran-backed Shiite adversaries fought for months before Monday’s violence.
Al-resignation Sadr’s caused pandemonium. His followers invaded the Green Zone, long the U.S. military’s stronghold and now home to Iraqi government offices and foreign embassies. They broke into the palace’s magnificent salons and marbled halls.
On Tuesday, his loyalists fired machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades into the heavily protected Green Zone as security personnel and armoured vehicles drew up. Some spectators filmed the gunfight with their phones, but most hid behind walls.
At least 30 people were killed, officials reported, until al-Sadr encouraged his supporters to go home after Iraqi and UN requests for calm.
Cleric: “This is not a revolution.”
Al-Sadr apologised to the people of Iraq. In July, he told his followers to attack the parliament and call for revolution and change.
The quick shift in the streets showed his authority over his adherents and influence over the Iraqi political class.
Two Iraqi medical officials claimed Tuesday that approximately 400 people were wounded. Officials talked anonymously because they weren’t authorised to tell the press.
Iran blocked its borders with Iraq earlier Tuesday out of fear the turmoil might spread, but streets outside the capital’s government sector were peaceful before the al-order. Sadr’s global benchmark Brent crude traded down as the country’s oil flowed.
Saddam Hussein repressed Iraq’s predominantly Shiite Muslim population. The U.S.-led 2003 invasion that deposed Sunni Saddam changed the political order. Iraq is 2/3 Shiite and 1/3 Sunni.
Now, Iran-backed Shiites and Iraqi nationalists are jockeying for power, influence, and state resources.
It’s a heated rivalry in a country apprehensive of Iran’s influence, despite extensive trade and links. The 1980s Iraq-Iran war killed a million people.
Sadr’s rhetoric and reform plans appeal to his supporters, who come from Iraq’s poorest areas and were kept out of politics under Saddam.
Al-original Sadr’s announcement that he would leave politics gave his fans full reign. Tuesday’s address reined them in.
Before that, neighbouring countries warned their nationals and closed embassies.
Iran also encouraged its residents to avoid travelling to the neighbouring country, citing turmoil. The decision came as millions planned to visit Shiite shrines in Iraq.
Flights to Iraq resumed later Tuesday, State TV announced.
Kuwait, which borders Iraq, asked its citizens to evacuate. State-run KUNA recommended that travellers postpone their trips to Iraq.
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad sent out a security alert telling American citizens to stay away from the Green Zone and other places where protests were happening.
Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra tweeted early Tuesday that the embassy was evacuated.
Baghdad’s embassy is under attack. “Our crew is now in the German embassy,” Hoekstra tweeted.
On Tuesday, Emirates discontinued flying to Baghdad. The airline claimed it was “watching attentively.” Flights weren’t restarted.