The violence of the last two days has left a provisional balance of 30 dead and almost 800 wounded. To prevent an escalation, the Shiite leader called on his supporters to stand down and prevent further spilling of “Iraqi blood.” But the tension is still very high and the political and institutional problems have not been resolved either. source: a situation that “has been dragging on for a long time”.
Baghdad () – Iraq is a country that is increasingly isolated and bloodied after the sudden wave of violence that was triggered by the announcement by the Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr that he wants abandon political life forever. In response, his sympathizers invaded the capital’s squares, attacked buildings and institutions in the “Green Zone” and clashed violently with the security forces, in a climate of true urban guerrilla warfare. In an attempt to ease tensions, al-Sadr himself intervened “to apologize to the nation and its people” for the violence, calling on his supporters and sympathizers to leave. “This [ya] it is not a revolution – he said in a message broadcast by the Najaf television channel – because it has lost its peaceful character” and “it is forbidden to spill Iraqi blood”.
A government official from the capital, contacted by , confirmed the climate of “high tension” in the last 24 hours, which now seems to have calmed down a bit. “Rumors circulated -he continues- that invited us to be vigilant due to the risk of an escalation”, because none of the parties involved “wanted to take a step back. It is a state of confusion that persists and drags on for a long time.
Middle East Eye (MEE) reported that according to military sources the updated figure is at least 30 dead and 750 wounded in Baghdad alone. But there are also tensions and clashes in the south of the country, where the Shia community is the majority. Gunshots, explosions and heavy clashes between al-Sadr supporters on one side and security forces backed by Iran-aligned militias on the other could be heard in the capital for hours. Most of the inhabitants remain barricaded inside their houses, respecting the curfew imposed by the authorities. The shootings and columns of smoke continue in the Green Zone, headquarters of the main government institutions and international diplomatic representations, but since the early hours of the afternoon – in response to al-Sadr’s call – the protesters began to withdraw.
Some international airlines such as Emirates Airline suspended all connections to Baghdad today, concerned about the safety of staff and passengers. In a note posted on its website, officials “warn customers that due to reports of civil unrest and curfews in Iraq, Emirates flights to and from Baghdad have been canceled on August 30.”
Iran has closed its borders with Iraq and advised its citizens to avoid traveling for the time being, also taking into account the Arbaeen holidays that mark the end of 40 days of mourning for the death of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussein. Every year millions of Iranians make a pilgrimage to the holy city of Kerbala during that celebration, which falls on September 16 and 17 this year.
Iraq has been facing a difficult political stalemate since last October’s elections, when the Sadrists became the main political bloc but without reaching the numbers necessary to obtain a real majority in Parliament. Since then the country has lived in a kind of limbo because the different factions have not been able to reach an agreement for the election of the President of the Republic, the appointment and full mandate of the Prime Minister and the subsequent formation of the new government. On the other hand, the results of the polls have been harshly rejected by the Shiite Coordination Framework (close to Tehran), which has not managed to reach an agreement with the Sadrists for the election of the successor of Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, who is in charge of the government on an interim basis.