Tear gas fired on protestors in Baghdad
Security troops fired tear gas as thousands of Iraqi protestors gathered in the capital on Friday. The protestors were trying to enter the Green Zone, a secured area that has been breached twice before. Protests have been held in the hope that the current government be replaced by technocrats. Prime Minister of Iraq, Haider al-Abadi's requests to adjourn the protests fell on deaf ears.
Muqtada al-Sadr is a Shiite cleric, politician and militia leader. Despite not holding an authorative title in the government, he is one of the most influential religious and popular figures in Iraq. Muqtada rose to power post the American invasion of 2003, commanding a militia that fought Americans. Mr. Sadr has taken the lead role in Iraqi protests demanding government reforms.
What al-Sadr has to say
During the April protests, al-Sadr said that he could "destroy" Iraq's government. "I am promising you that I will not make any agreements with other politicians. I work for the benefit of the nation," Sadr said in a speech.
What do the Protestors want?
Most of the protestors in Baghdad are followers of Muqtada al-Sadr. Much of Iraq's dysfunction arises from flaws in it's quota-based political system, which allocates government positions based on sects over merit. The protests are held calling for reduction in government waste and corruption and to abolish sectarian quotas. Weekly rallies in Baghdad aim to pressurize the Iraq's political leadership.
The Iraqi Prime Minister's efforts
Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi in February, taking heed to the protests, revealed his plans to form a new cabinet. He presented a list of technocrats, as demanded by the protestors, instead of party-affiliated politicians. Sadr called off the protests, but this move faced major resistance from dominant political parties. Abadi sought temporary peace, as security forces fight ISIS over the retake of Fallujah city.
Who is a technocrat?
Technocracy is an organizational structure or system of governance where decision-makers are selected based on their subject matter expertise. It refers to individuals exercising governmental authority because of their knowledge.
Turmoil in Baghdad's Green Zone
Protestors stormed Baghdad's heavily guarded Green Zone and beat parliamentarians with Iraqi flags. To prevent more protestors from entering the zone, police shot bullets into the air and fired tear gas at the protestors, a curfew and a state of emergency were declared. Demonstrators smashed glass furniture, while another group set a vehicle ablaze. Later, they reportedly had a sit-in outside the Parliamentary building.
What is the Green Zone?
The Green Zone is the most common name for the International Zone of Baghdad. Unlike the city where daily hardships like lack of electricity and clean water persist, in the Green Zone, electricity flows and Iraqi officials live in palaces.