Iraq parliament stormed
Hundreds of protesters climbed over the blast walls surrounding Baghdad’s highly-fortified Green Zone for the first time yesterday and stormed into parliament, carrying Iraqi flags and chanting against the government.
The breach (inset) marked a major escalation in the country’s political crisis following months of anti- government protests, sit- ins and demonstrations by supporters of the i n fl u e n t i a l Shia cleric Muqtada Al Sadr. The Green Zone is home to most ministries and embassies and has long been the focus of Al Sadr’s criticism of the regime.
Al Sadr had earlier yesterday accused Iraqi politicians of blocking political reforms aimed at combating corruption and waste. He didn’t call for an escalation to the protests, but shortly after his remarks his supporters began scaling the compound’s walls.
A group of young men then pulled down a section of concrete blast walls to cheers from the crowd of thousands gathered in the streets outside.
“We are all with you (Al Sadr),” a group of men yelled as the entered the building’s main chamber. Tense protests and a series of failed reform measures have paralysed Iraq’s government as it struggles to fight ISIS and respond to economic crisis sparked in part by a plunge in oil prices.
The government has been under pressure for more than a year to reduce the size of parliament.
Earlier yesterday, a bombing in a market filled with Shia civilians in Baghdad killed at least 21 people and wounded at least 42 others, according to police and hospital officials. ISIS claimed responsibility.