Iraq on the brink of a civil war: what is happening

Iraqi Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr has ordered his armed followers to withdraw within an hour from the roads in and around Baghdad’s Green Zone. We learn this from a statement released a little while ago by Sadr’s office, which among other things confirmed his decision, announced yesterday and which triggered the mobilization of his followers, to withdraw “definitively” from political life.

The Iraqi Shiite leader publicly apologized “to the Iraqi people” for the bloody clashes in which his followers have participated since yesterday in and around the Green Zone of Baghdad. In a televised press conference, Sadr said: “I am very saddened by what is happening in Iraq … I offer an apology to the Iraqi people for what has happened. Our homeland is now a prisoner of corruption, ”Sadr said in reference to Iraqi institutional representatives. “Revolution is not done with weapons,” said Sadr, condemning the use of weapons and reiterating the fact that “protests must remain peaceful”. The Shiite leader also thanked the army and security forces “for remaining neutral” during the clashes between the Sadrists and the pro-Iranian militias.

Baghdad, assault on the government building and dive into the pool. Violent clashes between religious factions

Following al-Sadr’s appeal to his supporters to put an end to street protests, Baghdad’s security forces today lifted the curfew that had been imposed throughout the country after the violence erupted. Meanwhile, Iran has closed its land borders and blocked flights to Iraq.

What happened? Protesters loyal to clergy Muqtada al-Sadr, who resigned on Monday, roped down the concrete barriers outside the government building and broke through the building’s gates. Many rushed to the sumptuous halls and halls of the palace, a key meeting place for Iraqi heads of state and foreign dignitaries. The Iraqi military announced a nationwide curfew and the interim premier suspended cabinet sessions in response to the violence. Medical officials said dozens of protesters were injured by gunfire and tear gas and physical clashes with riot police.

Tehran’s decision came as millions of Iranians were preparing to travel to Iraq for the annual pilgrimage to Kerbala on the occasion of Arbain which this year falls between 16 and 17 September. Kuwait, which shares more than 250 km of border with Iraq, has urged its citizens to leave the country or to postpone the trip, while Emirates has blocked flights to Baghdad, making it known that it “monitors the situation closely”.

And Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said the country’s embassy in the Green Zone of Baghdad has been evacuated. “There are gunfights around the embassy in Baghdad. Our staff are working at the German embassy in another part of the city, ”Hoekstra wrote on Twitter.

In a note, the Farnesina affirms that “Italy expresses strong concern about the ongoing riots in the Iraqi capital, which have also caused victims and injuries, and appeals for restraint to all interested parties so that a dangerous escalation. The right to freely express one’s dissent cannot translate into violence and clashes ”. “It is necessary that all representative institutions can function regularly in compliance with the Constitution and Iraqi law and in the interest of the entire population,” the note continues. “Italy hopes for a resumption of constructive dialogue between all Iraqi political forces so that a phase of uncertainty will be brought to an end and the way to a widely supported and recognized government that offers the country security, stability and prosperity”.

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