News ID: 105387
Publish Date : 01 August 2022 - 22:05

BAGHDAD (Dispatches) — Iraqi security forces erected concrete barriers on Monday ahead of counter-protests planned by political rivals against a firebrand cleric whose followers have staged a parliament sit-in for a third day.
Calls for the counter-protest came from a political alliance opposed to the open-ended sit-in inside Iraq’s parliament by followers of Muqtada al-Sadr. The prospect of opposing demonstrations stirred fears of a deepening political crisis. Iraq’s political sphere has been a vacuum since federal elections in October.
The counter-protest was called for by the Coordination Framework and was slated to take place Monday afternoon. The alliance instructed participants to gather around Baghdad’s July 14th Bridge, which leads to the heavily fortified Green Zone where the parliament is housed.
The alliance forbade participants from entering the zone, directing them to “wait for instructions.” That signaled to protesters not to clash with al-Sadr’s followers, but opened the possibility of drawn-out demonstrations in a standoff against al-Sadr.
The alliance also called for its supporters to respect the state security forces and carry Iraqi flags. Security forces erected concrete walls to act as a buffer, blocking off the passage from the bridge to the Green Zone.
The announcement came after al-Sadr issued a statement late Sunday calling for “revolution” and to change the political system and the constitution and abolish his rivals while encouraging Iraqi tribes to join him. His opponents perceived that message as a call to a coup.
Fractures appeared within the leadership of the Framework, with some members unwilling to take part and calling for restraint. Others pushed for escalation.
Former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the head of the Framework alliance, anti-terror leader Qais al-Khazali, appear to be leading the push for protests. Meanwhile, Fatah Alliance head Hadi al-Ameri is urging control and moderation, two political officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Kataib Hezbollah, another anti-terror group, has also suggested it will not participate.
Al-Sadr’s loyalists continued their sit-in for a third day. Thousands among them stormed the parliament on Saturday, for the second time in the span of a week. This time, they did not disperse peacefully.

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