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Iraq: Counter-protesters take to streets in Baghdad

BaghdadEdited By: Manas JoshiUpdated: Aug 02, 2022, 01:39 PM IST
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Security forces use a water cannon to prevent supporters of the Coordination Framework from entering the capital Baghdad's high-security Green Zone on August 1, 2022, during a counter-protest against Sadr's loyalists who have been occupying parliament. Iraqi security forces were on high alert in Baghdad as tensions soared after rivals of Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr, whose supporters are occupying the parliament, called for counter-demonstrations. Photograph:(AFP)

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A political stand-off has pitted two key factions of Shiite political scene against each other. Sadr, the Muslim cleric, has devoted following of millions. The other faction is the powerful pro-Iran Coordination Framework

Iraq on Monday (August 1) saw thousands on the streets of capital Baghdad in counter-protests against rival supporters of Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr occupied country's parliament for third day. A political stand-off has pitted two key factions of Shiite political scene against each other. Sadr, the Muslim cleric, has devoted following of millions. The other faction is the powerful pro-Iran Coordination Framework.

"The people will not allow a coup," read placards held by supporters of the Coordination Framework as they gathered on a main street leading to the Green Zone, the home of parliament, which Sadr's supporters have been occupying since Saturday.

Watch | Iraq Political Crisis: Al-Sadr supporters enter Baghdad's green zone

"It is the parliament of the people, of all Iraqis, not the parliament of a select group", said 25-year-old protester Ahmed Ali, condemning "the storming" of government institutions. He was quoted by AFP.

Water cannons were fired by police to prevent the crowds from crossing a bridge that led to the Green Zone. Thousands of Sadr supporters are inside the zone maintaining the protest. They breached the normally secure Green Zone on Saturday (July 30). Government buildings and embassies are located inside the Green Zone.

"They wanted to show their political strength, to show that they too have a base that can take over the Iraqi street," said political scientist Ihsan al-Shammari, from the University of Baghdad.

In multi-confessional and multi-ethnic Iraq, government formation has involved complex negotiations since a 2003 US-led invasion toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.

In this case, the protracted political deadlock has left the country without a government, a new prime minister or a new president.

(With inputs from agencies)

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