Iraqi forces ready to protect diplomatic missions: Military spokesman to Al Arabiya

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Iraqi forces are capable and ready to protect diplomatic missions in Baghdad’s Green Zone as followers of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr protest the selection of a new Prime Minister, military spokesman Yahya Rasool said in an interview with Al Arabiya on Sunday.

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The capital remains stable and security forces have carried out proactive intelligence operations to prevent any party from provoking sedition, Rasool added.

All roads in the capital have been reopened and movement in the diplomatic Green Zone has returned to normal, as additional security forces have been deployed there, Rasool said, even as protesters continue their second day occupying parliament.

Followers of al-Sadr stormed the parliament building on Saturday after tearing down concrete barriers on the perimeter of the Green Zone.

The trigger for the protest was the decision made by a rival Shia bloc, which is pro-Iran, to pick Mohammed Shia al-Sudani for the prime minister’s post.

In multi-confessional and multi-ethnic Iraq, government formation has involved complex negotiations since a 2003 US-led invasion toppled Hussein.

Al-Sadr’s bloc emerged from elections in October as the biggest parliamentary faction, but was still far short of a majority.

In June, his 73 lawmakers quit in a bid to break a logjam over the establishment of a new government.

That led to a pro-Iran block becoming the largest in parliament, but still there was no agreement on naming a new prime minister, president or cabinet.

The occupation that began on Saturday was the second time in days that al-Sadr’s supporters had forced their way into the legislative chamber.

The protests are the latest challenge for a country trying to overcome decades of war and now facing the impact of climate change.

Despite oil wealth and elevated global crude prices, Iraq remains hobbled by corruption, unemployment and other problems, which sparked a youth-led protest movement in 2019.

With AFP

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