On Wednesday, the supporters of the powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and the opponents of al-Sudani stormed the parliament in the Green Zone in central Baghdad. According to the published videos, many protesters were walking on the seats in the Iraqi parliament and waving the Iraqi flag. Reports said that at the time of the presence of the protesters, there were no lawmakers in the parliament and only the security forces were inside the building, who allowed the protesters to enter without resistance. According to Iraqi media, anti-riot forces have been deployed in front of the main gates, but some protesters climbed the walls around the two entrances of the Green Zone and chanted "al-Sudani, out."
The protesters were mostly supporters of al-Sadr, whose bloc recently walked out of parliament despite winning most of the seats in the parliament. Lawmakers of Sadrist Movement in the Iraqi parliament resigned en masse from their representation in the parliament at the request of their leader.
A few hours after seizing the parliament, the protesters left it at al-Sadr's request. In a message addressed to the protesters, he said: "Your message was received. You scared the corrupt. Pray and return home safely. The uprising of Muharram al-Haram is an uprising of reform and opposition to oppression and corruption."
While al-Sadr's message could convince the protesters to leave the parliament at this stage, the content of the message showed that the Sadrist Movement probably intends to continue similar protests in Muharram, a month in which the Shiites commemorate Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad.
Ak-Sadr supporters' attack on the parliament follows warnings in recent weeks by Iraqi officials and resistance groups about the efforts of some foreign parties and their affiliates to create a new crisis. In recent years, the US has been working hard to undermine resistance groups in the political structure as they are opposed to its military presence in Iraq. So, naming al-Sudani, a figure agreed upon by a majority of the parliament, was detrimental to these efforts. If a new PM aligned to the resistance groups is elected, they would see their power increased, to frustration of Washington that is pushing to beat resistance to its military presence in Iraq. It has always pushed to bring to power figures close to its agenda to implement its evil plans against the resistance groups.
Iraqis' reaction to storming the parliament
Storming of the parliament drew reactions from various political factions. The SCF, condemning such moves as a step to insecure Iraq, in a strong-toned statement said that some sides invited for suspicious moves and sedition as the Coordination Framework took practical steps to form a nationalist and serving government with a consensus on a nationalist, competent, and clean person.
The Coordination Framework continued that the rapid developments and allowing the protesters to enter the special government area and the attack on the House of Representatives and legislative institutions and the failure of the relevant forces to do their duty raise many questions. It called for the adoption of decisive measures to maintain security and prevent chaos and illegal actions, and invited citizens to be more aware and vigilant about the "plots of the enemies" and to counter any sedition. President Barham Saleh, in reaction to the storming, stressed the need for maintaining calm and avoiding any escalation of tensions that affect the peace and security of the society.
The easy breaking into the parliament hall raised the assumptions that it was pre-planned and backed by some government officials. A member of Asaib Ahl al-Haq group noted that the protests were arranged by some parties "that want this critical situation to continue."
"Al-Kadhimi is struggling to retain the post and he tries to do with the help of foreign sides," he told Al-Maalomah news website blaming the prime minister.
An Iraqi analyst pointed the finger of blame at al-Kadhimi and said that he provided all the facilities for the demonstrators to reach the Green Zone and break into the parliament building, while the top thing is to protect the public buildings. According to him, what happened indicates a well-studied plan aimed at keeping al-Kadhimi for the new term, and this issue is rejected by the majority of political forces and even the Iraqi people because this government has failed in all cases. In recent weeks, al-Kadhimi tried hard to persuade political leaders for staying in power for another term, but the Shiite groups did not give him a green light and odds are he coordinated with al-Sadr on the issue.
Al-Sadr caught in a dilemma
Although al-Sadr did not brazenly voice support to the protesters, it is not clear if he approves of the protests that are arranged in his name and for him. With Iraq moving forward to form a government to reactivate public services and bring back political stability, if al-Sadr does not officially separate his ways from the unruly protesters, the officials and public will blame him for any consequences to national security and stability. He asked his representatives in the parliament to resign to pave the way for a new election, but he failed as other parties declined to walk him. And now that all the groups agreed on a new figure, he is trying to escalate the situation.
Experts had predicted that after the mass resignation of Sadrist Movement's lawmakers, al-Sadr could arrange protests to show off his political weight and to realize his goals. In his resignation address, al-Sadr lashed out at rival groups and named them the "main obstacle" ahead of political stability in the country. He indirectly blamed the SCF for the current situation. Now that the SCF named a PM, he is standing in opposition, at least implicitly.
Given that under Sadrist majority all the parliamentary initiatives for a new government failed, some believe that the Sadrists themselves obstructed agreements and their walkout prepared the ground for a new government. Therefore, al-Sadr tries to clear himself of such accusations in the course of the cabinet formation to tell that other parties, not his, are a serious hurdle ahead of transition from this political predicament.
To advance his plans and wrest concessions from rival parties, al-Sadr repeatedly brought his supporters to the streets in recent years. But as Iraq's conditions are now different from the past, the public do not want to see the stalemate continue. Amid the Turkish occupational campaign in the north and political and security instability, the Iraqis expect the political leaders to unite for transition from this situation. If al-Sadr does not join other leaders, he will separate further from the social body and the Iraqis will not count on his political weight. He earlier said that even if he is not within the political structure, he will do his best for a new cabinet. If he walks back from his words, he will lose the relative acceptance he has among the public.