Police on alert in Baghdad, rival protests expected

Moqtada Sadr's opponents, supporters of the powerful alliance of pro-Iran Shia factions called the Coordinating Framework, nevertheless stressed that the rally "was not directed against any particular group", according to calls relayed on social networks.

Police on alert in Baghdad, rival protests expected

Moqtada Sadr's opponents, supporters of the powerful alliance of pro-Iran Shia factions called the Coordinating Framework, nevertheless stressed that the rally "was not directed against any particular group", according to calls relayed on social networks. .

The tension has risen a notch in Iraq after the rejection by Mr. Sadr of the candidate for the post of Prime Minister presented by the Coordination Framework which brings together Hachd al-Chaabi, former paramilitaries integrated into the regular forces, and the formation of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, historic enemy of Shiite leader Sadr.

Last Wednesday, supporters of Moqtada Sadr, with a huge popular base, briefly invaded the seat of parliament but on Saturday they stormed it and have occupied it ever since.

Now it is the turn of their adversaries to mobilize: after messages circulating on social networks announcing a rally on Monday at 5:00 p.m. checkpoints.

The demonstration is to take place on an avenue leading to the Green Zone, which houses government institutions, Western embassies and the seat of Parliament.

- "Government of the corrupt" -

But the instructions given to the demonstrators forbid them to enter the Green Zone. The stated objective is to "defend the state and its legitimacy", and the gathering "is not directed against a particular person or group", is it written in the messages.

An official of Mr. Maliki's party confirmed the calls to demonstrate.

At the same time, the leaders of the Coordination Framework have multiplied calls for dialogue to resolve the crisis.

In the other camp, a relative of Mr. Sadr called for rallies at the same time, at 5:00 p.m., in the provinces of Iraq.

In Parliament in Baghdad, a few thousand Sadrist demonstrators remain mobilized, waving flags and portraits of Moqtada Sadr, noted an AFP correspondent.

Dancing in the main hall, they chant "Here are the soldiers of the son of the Sayyed", in allusion to Moqtada Sadr and his title of descendant of the prophet.

At the entrance, men search the newcomers while several tents have grown in the gardens.

"We want to eliminate the government of the corrupt, we don't want to recycle the same faces," protester Zaher Al-Atabi said. "From 2003 until now, those who have run the country have done nothing to develop public services, no health system, no education!"

It does not matter if followers of Moqtada Sadr also occupy the highest levels in the ministries, his supporters see him as a figure of opposition and herald of the fight against corruption.

- "Slippages" -

Since the October 2021 legislative elections, political paralysis has been total. Months of negotiations between the major parties have failed to elect a new President of the Republic or a new head of government.

Famous for his about-faces, Mr. Sadr has demonstrated that he is still capable of mobilizing crowds to advance his pawns.

He seeks to put pressure on his adversaries when he had left the task of forming a government to them, causing his 73 deputies to resign in June. Before their resignation, his elected representatives represented the first bloc in Parliament of 329 deputies.

On Sunday, Mr. Sadr called on all Iraqis to join the protest, seeing in it "an extraordinary opportunity for a fundamental change in the political system".

The Coordination Framework saw this as a call for a "coup" against the institutions.

Monday, challenging the two rival camps, Hadi al-Ameri, who leads a faction of Hachd, reiterated his call for "a constructive dialogue".

He warned against "an atmosphere of media escalation, caused by press releases and counter-press releases calling for mass mobilizations, which can get out of hand and lead to violence".

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