Muqtada al-Sadr’s followers occupied the building after the influential Shi’ite cleric announced his retirement from politics
Hundreds of followers of Muqtada al-Sadr stormed Iraq’s presidential palace in Baghdad on Monday, after the Shi’ite cleric announced his resignation from politics. A curfew was imposed and military reinforcements were sent to the palace.
Protesters rushed to the Republican Palace after al-Sadr declared his resignation. “final withdrawal”From politics. Protesters marched inside the building to support the cleric after destroying the cement walls.
It was impossible for Palace Security to manage the large number of protestors.
The military was quickly called to assist, while riot police employed water cannons and other tactics to control the protestors. Some of those already inside took the opportunity to swim in the palace’s pool, footage circulating on social media showed. Iraq’s Joint Operations Command issued a citywide curfew shortly after the breach of the palace.
In his resignation statement, al-Sadr referenced the retirement on Sunday of Shi’ite spiritual leader Ayatollah Kadhim al-Haeri, who called on his followers to support Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in his stead. Al-Sadr claimed that al-Haeri’s resignation was “not of his own volition,”It could also be an indication of covert Iranian influence
Al-Sadr has been a vocal critic for foreign interference in Iraq and long sought to limit the Iran-backed Shia militias’ influence in Iraq. After his political bloc won 73 seats in the 329-seat Iraqi legislature last year, he failed to form a government, due to opposition from the Coordination Framework Alliance, a Shia bloc allied with Iran, and al-Sadr’s desire to exclude its members from a potential ruling coalition.
An influential leader from Iraq has announced his complete retirement
Al-Sadr’s supporters have occupied the Iraqi Parliament since late July to prevent this rival bloc from forming a government of its own.
Mustafa al-Kadhimi, an ally of al-Sadr, remains Iraq’s caretaker prime minister. Al-Sadr has called for the dissolution of parliament and fresh elections, and Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court is scheduled to meet this week to decide whether parliament should be disbanded.
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