One day after storming parliament, Iraqi protesters are camping out [Aljazeera report] Sunday within the confines of Baghdad’s International Zone, also referred to as the “Green Zone.” The Green Zone is a secured area that includes embassies and government buildings. The Green Zone was initially breached on Sunday by protesters. Many of the activists are followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr [AP profile]. A state of emergency was declared for the city and the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi demanded arrests [WP report]. The demonstration was made in opposition of alleged corruption within the Iraqi government. Muqtada al-Sadr has called on the government to change on the terms of a non-partisan, technocratic make-up [BBC report]. Protesters are voicing their concern about the substantial delays facing the government reforms. There have been reports [AP report] of demonstrators beginning to leave the Green Zone on Sunday afternoon, after al-Sadr requested the protests break-up to maintain security for pilgrims expected to enter the city to visit the shrine of Imam Musa Kadhim.
This weekend’s demonstrations in Iraq was the culmination of weeks of political unrest in Iraq. In April people began protesting in Baghdad [JURIST report] demanding a new government amid the third cancellation of a session of parliament in one week as officials discussed political reforms. The particular session of parliament was cancelled because the chambers could not be secured [Aljazeera report] by security as tempers flared. The political turmoil has been the result of a plan by Haider al-Abadi to bring technocrats into the cabinet to challenge corruption. On March 31, al-Abadi presented a potential list of individuals, but then shortly thereafter drafted a second list that was more aligned with political motives. Many MP’s then staged a sit-in protest of this move, as they believed it would allow corruption to continue. Iraq has faced significant challenges in recent years with providing basic infrastructure and a stable government. Earlier that week, members of parliament voted to remove [Aljazeera report] the parliamentary speaker Salim al-Juburi after accusing him of blocking anti-corruption reforms. In August Iraq’s cabinet approved a proposal [JURIST report] by al-Abadi to reduce the number of top political positions, decrease spending, and restart a corruption investigation program.