BAGHDADS (Dispatches) – Angered by a months-long political crisis, thousands of Iraqis have taken to the streets of the capital, Baghdad, days after deadly clashes between rival groups sparked fears of widespread unrest.
The non-partisan protesters streamed into western Baghdad’s Al-Nusoor Square on Friday, brandishing banners and Iraqi flags to demand a complete political overhaul.
“Protesters say they took to the streets today to demand the removal of all the political elite, whom they accuse of corruption,” an Al Jazeera reporter said from Baghdad.
“They are calling for justice for their colleagues who were killed at the hands of security forces in 2019,” Abdelwahed added, referring to the anti-government protest movement that erupted in October 2019 but has since died down.
Violence erupted in the capital Baghdad after Moqtada al-Sadr on Monday said he was resigning from politics and closing his movement’s offices amid a political stalemate that has left the country incapable of forming a new government since the parliamentary elections of October 2021.
Sadr’s supporters pulled down the barriers outside the government palace and breached its gates on Monday. The army announced a nationwide curfew, but armed clashes raged overnight. At least 30 people were killed and 700 others wounded in the two days of unrest, which came after three years of relative stability in Baghdad.
Iraqi supporters of the prominent cleric withdrew on Tuesday from Baghdad’s high-security Green Zone after he demanded an end to two days of unrest.
The United Nations Security Council has “appealed for calm and restraint” in Iraq, asking the parties to refrain from violence and seek a political solution, days after the Arab country saw a two-day turmoil.
The UNSC issued a statement following this week’s developments in Iraq.
Condemning the violence in Iraq on August 29 and 30, the UNSC members voiced deep concern over reported deaths and injuries.