New twist in Iraqi politics. The Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr has announced that he wants to withdraw from the political life of the country. “I had decided not to interfere in political matters, but now I announce my complete retirement from political life.” The surprise communication takes place almost a month after theassault on the Iraqi parliament by its supporters demanding the dissolution of the parliament.
A move that aggravates the country’s political crisis that has been going on since October last year. Immediately after al-Sadr’s words, his supporters returned to raid Baghdad’s Green Zone, where government offices and diplomatic representations are based. Their stated goal is to want “Change the regime”. Images of supporters of the Shiite leader trying to climb the gates of the Palazzo della Repubblica, the main institutional headquarters of the capital, have been circulated on social media. The army declared for today 29 August the curfew to Baghdadmeasure then extended to level national: in all the provinces of Iraq it is scheduled from 7 pm local time, 6 pm in Italy. The outgoing premier, Mustafa al-Kadhimiordered the suspension until further notice of each meeting of the Council of Ministers.
“The people want the regime to fall,” the protesters chanted, making them a slogan originally associated with the anti-government protests of the Arab Spring of 2011. A note released by al-Sadr’s office after his resignation reads from now on onwards is “The use of slogans, flags, political songs and other in the name of the Sadrist movement is strictly prohibited”. Iraqi security forces have called on al-Sadr supporters to “Withdraw immediately” from the Green Zone and called for restraint to “prevent Iraqi fighting or bloodshed”.
TheUn, who invited the demonstrators to leave the Green Zone, admonishing: “The survival of the Iraqi state itself is at stake.” Commenting on the ongoing violence in Baghdad, the United Nations mission in Iraq (Unami) added: “Today’s developments represent a very dangerous escalation. State institutions must work free of obstacles ”, we read in reference to the fact that Sadr’s followers have occupied the Palace of the Republic, the seat of the government. There White House describes the situation in Iraq as ‘worrying’ and calls for calm and dialogue. He also denies rumors of an embassy evacuation.
The clashes have resulted for the time being 12 dead. Pan-Arab TV reports al Arabiya citing medical sources. Iraqi security forces began shooting tear gas to disperse Sadr’s followers in front of the Palace of the Republic in Baghdad. They were also heard bursts of automatic rifles and gunshots in the center of the city, according to reports from pan-Arab TV stations al Jazeera And al Arabiya. Some sources speak of “pro-Iranian militiamen” infiltrated who, according to the testimonies gathered among the Sadrists, opened fire on police officers. The information cannot be independently verified on the ground. Meanwhile, Tehran has suspended flights towards Baghdad until further notice. The Iranian embassy in Baghdad also issued a warning to its compatriots in Iraq not to go to religiously and politically sensitive places such as the Shiite mausoleums of Kazimiya and Samarra in Baghdad. The crowd set fire to pictures and blow-ups of the Iranian general Qasem Soleimanideceased leader of the Iranian Pasdaran Qods Brigade, killed in a US attack in the Iraqi capital in January 2020.
“If I die or be killed, I ask you to pray for me”, meanwhile added Al-Sadr, who also announced the closure of all offices that belong to him, except religious ones. The Sanctuary, the Sharif Museum and the al Sadr Heritage Institute therefore remain open. A few minutes after the announcement of the Shiite leader, his adviser Salih Muhammed al-Airaki suspended her Twitter account by changing her profile picture to text “Closed”.
Meanwhile, US military helicopters took off in the skies of the area besieged by demonstrators in the Iraqi capital. The images of the patrol were broadcast on Al Arabiya TV, showing the aircraft flying at low altitudes. According to local media reports, the media are carrying some Iraqi institutional personalities. The information coming from the field, therefore, is confused and currently it is not possible to verify independently on the ground.
In the October 2021 elections, the Sairoon breakfast whose most powerful faction is precisely the Movement of al-Sadr He obtained 74 seats out of 329making the party led by the Shiite leader the political formation more numerous in Parliament. Despite this, however, al-Sadr had failed to assemble a majority necessary to form a government, rejecting alliances with the pro-Iranian Shiite parties, in particular with the former premier. Nouri al Maliki. Al Sadr had called for early elections in recent months, while the pro-Iranian opposition forces have opposed it, asking to work on an agreement to form an executive.