Iraqi security forces cracked down on supporters of Shia Cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr who stormed Baghdad’s Green Zone today. The protesters made into the Iraqi parliament building and Prime Minister Abadi’s office. The Sadrists have demanding a cabinet reshuffle and reforms to combat corruption.
The move sparked clashes with Iraqi forces who responded by firing tear gas and live ammunition at the demonstrators. Four people were reported dead from gunshot wounds and many others injured. The protest comes a few weeks after previews attempt to occupy the fortified area, which house the U.S embassy and Iraqi government.
In response to the occupation, the Iraqi government has locked down entrances to the city and imposed a curfew. A state of emergency has also been declared in the city.
— Thomas van Linge (@arabthomness) May 20, 2016
Protesters wounded by security forces.
— Sharon (@SharonVOA) May 20, 2016
The sound of automatic weapons used against protesters can be heard in the background of the video.
The Green Zone clashes follow a week of ISIS bombings that have killed of 150 mostly Shia Iraqis in the Baghdad area. Sadr’s followers have blamed the Iraqi government for failing to provide security to deal with the violence. Many analysts believe that this was ISIS’s intention and that the bombings were an attempt to destabilize the government.
Sadr’s “Peace Brigades” (a rebrand of the Mahdi Army) are reportedly positioning themselves outside the city, preparing to enter it. Ostensibly, this is to fight ISIS terrorists and suicide bombers, but there are doubts whether the militia and government will be able to coexist in the same space.
Whether ISIS’s strategy will work is yet to be seen. But for now it appears Iraq is coming apart at the seams. With the government corrupt and struggling to control the nation’s various sectarian militias, things do not look good for Iraq.