Baghdad: Silence has settled on the streets of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad after Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on his followers to stop protests and leave the city's green zone on Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, according to Sputnik, Al-Sadr called on his followers to vacate the parliament building and leave the green zone, where government facilities and foreign embassies are located. Following the cleric's call, thousands of Al-Sadr's supporters started leaving the centre of Baghdad.
Security forces have opened all significant bridges across the Tigris river in the Iraqi capital and began removing concrete barriers. Al-Sadr's political opponents from the coordination framework, an Iran-backed alliance of Shiite forces forming the largest bloc in the Iraqi legislature, appealed to their supporters to stop the protests after the cleric's followers began to withdraw from Baghdad's green zone.
The situation in Iraq escalated on Monday when Al-Sadr announced his retirement from politics. Iraq has faced a political deadlock since the early parliamentary elections, the first since 2003.
The clashes between his supporters and security forces left 30 people dead and hundreds injured.
Thousands of his followers stormed Iraq's presidential palace and clashed with the security forces following which Military reinforcements were sent to the presidential palace as the followers of Al Sadr tore down cement barriers outside the government building in support of the cleric.
An immediate curfew was put in place right after as Palace security was unable to control the mass of demonstrators.
Earlier in July, numerous Iraqi demonstrators, mostly supporters of Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr stormed the heavily fortified parliament building in Baghdad to protest against the nomination for prime minister by rival Iran-backed parties. The protesters were opposing the candidacy of Mohammed Shia al-Sudani for the post of Prime Minister, as they believe him to be too close to Iran.
Notably, Al-Sadr's bloc won 73 seats in Iraq's October 2021 election, making it the largest faction in the 329-seat parliament but, ever since the vote, talks to form a new government have stalled, and Al-Sadr stepped down from the political process. A deadlock persists over the establishment of a new government.
Mass protests erupted in 2019 amid public anger over corruption and unemployment and this current protest poses a challenge for the oil-rich country.