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Iraqi Military Parade Closes Roads, Causes Gridlock | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Caption: Iraqi pro-government forces take part in a rehearsal for a military parade in the streets of Baghdad on Tuesday. Road closures and streets clogged with military vehicles caused intense gridlock in the Iraqi capital. SABAH ARAR / AFP – Getty Images

Baghdad – Iraqis woke up on Monday to chaos and traffic on all three bridges that lead to Baghdad. With a temperature reaching 48 degrees, citizens were trapped inside their cars in the streets unable to get to work or to return home.

The reason behind all of that was military parade training in one of the largest and biggest streets in Baghdad, al-Saadoun Street. Tanks and armored vehicles were seen parading in the streets as helicopters hovered over.

Military spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan said that officials had closed roads in order to prepare for a military parade during which security forces and Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) will take part.

“We are preparing for a military parade that is going to take place in Baghdad in the coming days,” he said.

Maan said that no announcements were made in advance for security purposes.

Military and security advisor and expert Lt. Diyaa al-Wakil was surprised there was no announcements regarding the parade.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the official announcement should have been made earlier to inform citizens of blocked roads.

Social media activists posted images of tanks, armored vehicles, cannons, soldiers, police officers, and PMF members in Saadoun Street. The photos spiked a rumor of military coup.

Wakil said that it is only normal for such rumors to spread since there were no prior announcements about the training.

According to Wakil, the parade was supposed to happen on July 14 to mark the anniversary of Iraq’s 1958 overthrow of a Hashemite monarchy and the declaration of Iraq as a republic.

Advisor Wakil explained that such practices should occur in military bases or in a less crowded street like Saadoun for the security of units partaking in the parade. He added that this only aggravated the struggles of the Iraqi citizen.

He believes that authorities behind this wanted to send political and military messages to ISIS parading its force.

An Iraqi MP leaked information to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that armed forces, local police, and PMF participated in the military training except Al-Salam Brigades, which belong to the Sadrist movement.

The MP believes that this is a clear message to leader of Sadrist Movement Muqtada al-Sadr who appeared in military outfit on TV and called his followers to “majestic” demonstrations in Tahrir Square on Friday to condemn the deteriorating security situation and rampant corruption.

Member of National Iraqi Alliance, who preferred not to be named, said that both presidency of the parliament and the cabinet are afraid of citizens storming again into the buildings of the parliament and government. He added that rumors started about protesters wanting to enter the Green Zone again after Eid Fitr vacation is over.