US News 24
Protesters Stormed Presidential Palace in Baghdad
Protesters stormed the presidential palace in Baghdad after Muqtada al-Sadr announced his withdrawal from politics.
Monday: Waking up in the morning is a “normal” day in Iraq. Protesters still surround parliament; tensions are still high over expectations that something is about to happen. The central Iraqi religious/political figure, Muqtada al-Sadr, had given 72 hours to the entire Iraqi political class to decide whether or not to accept his request. His request? All those who came to power after the 2003 US invasion with their political parties (including himself and his party) left the entire political system, made way for a new generation of politicians /leaders, or stopped getting involved. In any political activity. This may seem like a good deal for the opposition political parties that had been in dispute with him since the elections that took place on October 25, 2021. Yet, it is not. We, the people, along with the opposition political parties, know that when this happens, all the people who demonstrate in the green zone and support Muqtada al-Sadr will not be happy and could make the situation even worse. This time their leader won't be there to stop them.
8:31 a.m.: One of the most influential Shia religious authorities, called "Al-ha'ree," announces that he will no longer act in his post due to his advanced age and illness, advising all his followers to follow orders. Another religious authority is called "Al-Khamenei," who also happens to be the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The problem with this is that a large number of Sadr's followers were following "Al-Ha'ree," and now their religious leader has ordered them to follow the orders of the supreme leader of Iran, who is currently an enemy of the Sadrists.
12:53 p.m.: Muqtada al-Sadr announces that he will no longer engage in political activity. The news shook us as we knew nothing good would follow. He made it clear that he was frustrated with the political system and had concerns about the removal of 'al-ha'ri' and the shift of his supporters to 'al-khaman'i,' which was a political decision in Iran. Besides that, he told his followers to pray for him in case he died or was killed.
1:45 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.: As everyone expected, things worsened, and the demonstrators in the green zone moved from the parliament to the presidential palace. There's not much resistance since no one expected the climb to be so fast. But before we know it, the concrete T-walls surrounding the castle started falling at the hands of protesters, and it wasn't long before they entered. It was a shocking moment for all Iraqis because it had never happened before, and it is the most significant escalation that has occurred in a protest in Iraq. Protesters stayed indoors as condemnations from all political figures followed: the prime minister, president, and political party leaders called on Muqtada Al-Sadr to come back and command the protesters, but as he promised, he would not participate in any political issues. , did not act. The authorities have also announced a curfew from 3:30 p.m. The end of this has not yet been announced. That has led to chaos in the streets, as most employees in Iraq leave work at 3 p.m. m., so this only increased the tension for the ordinary citizen. Between 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. M., riot police attempted to expel the protesters from the palace, while other demonstrations by Sadar supporters in other provinces of Iraq simultaneously broke out. At 6 p.m., the demonstrators were removed from the presidential palace.
7:00-8:00 p.m.: It was confirmed that eight people had already died. Live ammunition is fired into the green zone. The situation was terrible, and it was the worst-case scenario. In short, the Sadrists represent a large population, and many are armed, even apart from the fact that the Sadrist movement has one of the strongest militias in Iraq, and now, according to them, those who killed their people are the forces militias. Opposition parties. This led to the inevitable tonight, which is shooting in the safest place in Iraq. Sadrist online channels claimed the clashes were only between them and the Popular Mobilization Forces (a militia that played a significant role in the war against ISIS but was later involved in activities that led the population to have a divided opinion about them). In contrast, online sources of Popular Mobilization said that the Sadrists were fighting against them and also against government forces.
After 9:00 p.m.: the clashes become more intense and deadly, and a full-fledged street war unfolds. At 10:00 p.m., Muqtada al-Sadr announced through his representative that he was starting a hunger strike until peace was restored and both sides stopped using firearms. It doesn't seem to work as the street war is getting more brutal, even with heavy guns and explosive weapons like RPGs; the violence is spreading to other provinces with more photos and videos on the Internet. In Baghdad, most of the fighting is concentrated in one district, the Green Zone, but this is not the case in other provinces. And over time, things continue to escalate into a bloody civil war, with both sides heavily armed.