Iraq par­lia­ment stormed

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

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.

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