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Iraq on the Edge of the Abyss | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A demonstrator holds a picture of Moqtada al-Sadr during a demonstration in Baghdad, Reuters

Baghdad-Yesterday, Iraq officially has rested on the edge of the abyss, as the capital Baghdad witnessed a day of utter chaos after thousands of protestors barged into the Green Zone.

Muqtada al-Sadr, Shi’ite leader of the Sadrist movement, was the one to call onto the demonstrations. The masses marched into the parliament’s building after the ministers, once again, had failed to vote on a proposed list of candidates for establishing a technocratic government. The candidates were proposed by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and in response to the growing demands of Sadrists (followers of the Sadrist group) for reform and fighting corruption.

Meanwhile, the Sadrists waged an open rally at the Green Zone and Baghdad’s operation rooms declared a state of emergency, shutting down all main gateways to the city. Security was upped at the premise of the central bank and other major banks as well. PM Al-Abadi was also forced to leave his office in the Green Zone as to get to a safer place.

Protestors started marching only hours after a press conference with Muqtada al-Sadr in Najaflocated about 160 km south of Baghdad. At the press talk, al-Sadr condemned the political crisis the country is going through and announced the continuation of the popular “uprising” until all demands are met.
However, al-Sadr, at the conference, made no direct instructions that the protests should be moved into the Green Zone.

Many eyewitnesses said that a number of ministers who were attending parliament had fled outside the Green Zone. “The break-in was a surprising one, and we could not believe that the Sadrists were following through with their threats, actually we have not pictured that the Green Zone and parliamentary guard would allow this flooding of people in,” an Iraqi MP said.

On his behalf, Iraqi President FuadMasum called for calming down the situation.

The Green Zone, situated at the heart of Baghdad, includes the parliamentary building, the presidential palace and the offices of several embassies, including the American and the British embassies.

On the other hand, Iraqi officials reported the death of 23 people and other 38 injured after an explosive-laced vehicle exploded at one of the Shi’ite religious shrines near Baghdad. ISIS immediately claimed the assault. At one of the social media outlets employed by ISIS, an announcement was circulated on an ISIS suicide bomber detonating his 3-tons explosive-packed car.