By Peter Lawrence, The Chicago Times
August 30, 2022
BAGHDAD – After a bloody and hot day the riots and killings on Monday have ended in Baghdad’s Green Zone after Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr called for his supporters to stand down.
The popular Muslim cleric, al-Sadr, pleaded for his supporters to withdraw from the Green Zone and to end the senseless fighting between rival Shiite forces and the Iraqi Security Forces. When the fighting had ended, sources within the government claimed that 30 lives have been lost along with over 500 people wounded and maimed for life.
“I apologize to the Iraqi people, the only ones affected by the events,” al-Sadr said in a statement.
As supporters of al-Sadr retreated, the Iraqi government cancelled the nationwide curfew put in place to quell the violence. In furtherance of peace, President Barham Saleh will support the call for early elections in an effort to heal this national wound.
The bloody fighting began Monday when the influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stirred the emotions of hundreds of his followers who rushed a government palace in a rage, pulling down cement barriers surrounding the palace with ropes. In response, the Iraqi military decreed a nationwide curfew after further clashes with protesters.
Throughout the night, fighting between the Saraya Salam, a militia aligned with al-Sadr, and the Popular Mobilization Forces security group spilled into the Green Zone which houses many government and diplomatic assets.
The ongoing struggle between Shiites and Sunnis Muslim sects, which make up the majority of Iraq’s population, has left the nation with uncertainly as to which sect will dominant the county. In October, al-Sadr’s Shiite party won the largest share of seats in parliament, but not enough to form a majority government after he refused to parley with Iran-backed Shiite rivals.
Iraq’s prime minister, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, was outraged by the shootings and vowed to open an investigation since the use of live ammunition against protesters was forbidden. On Tuesday, Al-Kadhimi threatened to resign if the crisis continued.