To: 07/30/2022 19:06
Demonstrators again stormed the Iraqi parliament in Baghdad. A bitter power struggle has raged in Iraq since parliamentary elections last fall, and society is deeply divided.
This is the second time in a week that protesters have stormed the building. Once again, they wave Iraqi flags and sit in the MPs’ chairs. “We are here because politics oppresses us, persecutes us and robs us,” said one of the protesters. He complains that there is so much corruption in the Green Zone, a particularly secure area in Baghdad with many government institutions. “And we are so poor, but we live in what is supposed to be the richest country. Why ? And how long will it last?
Like most protesters, he is a supporter of Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Although al-Sadr won the most seats in last fall’s parliamentary elections, he has yet to be able to form a government. A few weeks ago, members of his bloc resigned from their seats in parliament.
Experts: Protests as show of Al-Sadr’s power
On Saturday, al-Sadr’s political opponents sought to elect a new prime minister during a parliamentary session. Political analyst Zaidon Alkinani explains: “Protesters continue to storm parliament because Moktada al-Sadr wants to send a message to his political opponents. Al-Sadr wants to put obstacles in the way of his rivals. when al-Sadr tried to form a government but failed to win a majority.”
Almost a year of political deadlock
A bitter power struggle has raged since parliamentary elections in the fall, meaning Iraq has not had a new government for ten months. Ten months of political deadlock. Dissatisfaction and frustration are growing in Iraqi society.
Muhannad Al-Janabi, a professor of politics in Erbil, told Al-Arabiya TV: “We are in a real crisis which may have reached the point of no return. We need unconventional solutions and not to stick to traditional mechanisms that only cause more chaos and disruption.”
Divided between political and religious circles
Experts interpret the current protests as a show of force by al-Sadr. He wants to show how many people he can take to the streets and will continue to mobilize in the future. And indeed, many of his followers are loyal to him.
One said at the protest: “We will continue, God willing. If they want to hold another parliamentary session, we will protest again. We are ready to escalate day by day.”
The protests show how divided Iraq is still. What is new is that the division is no longer just along ethnic or religious lines, but also across these groups. And the longer there is no new government, the greater the risk that conflicts will turn violent.
Protesters re-enter Iraqi parliament
Miriam Staber, ARD Cairo, July 30, 2022 5:23 p.m.