Baghdad witnesses deadly clashes amidst ongoing parliamentary deadlock

By Indi Phillips 

On 29 August, Shia cleric and political figure Muqtada al Sadr announced his resignation from politics. The ensuing unrest and violence which took place in Baghdad’s Green Zone, home of government buildings, international embassies and UN headquarters, left over 30 people dead and 570 wounded, underscoring Iraq’s increasingly fragile security situation.

Since October 2021, inconclusive elections left Sadr’s bloc the largest in parliament but just short of a parliamentary majority, and therefore unable to form a government without the support of other blocs. As October approaches, Iraq reaches one year of parliamentary deadlock under a caretaker government.

Multiple national dialogue talks were called, boycotted, recalled and boycotted again as the parliamentary blocs continued to bluff and stymie each other in negotiations. While parliamentary stagnation reigns, all state institutions remain paralysed, leaving Iraqis suffering at the hands of their politicians as the provision of water, power and other basic services are neglected.

As temperatures hit stifling heights over the summer months and anger grew amongst the population, tensions were bound to boil over. As the summer progressed, Sadr mobilised his supporters, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, across Baghdad and Sadrist strongholds such as Nasiriyah, Najaf and Basra to lend weight and pressure to Sadr’s statements; a growing threat of destabilisation became apparent.

Sadr withdrew his bloc’s lawmakers from Parliament with an accompanying demand for snap elections to be held to remedy the ongoing deadlock. The withdrawal left the Coordination Framework, the pro-Iran Shia opposition bloc to Sadr, with a majority of seats.

The Coordination Framework, in opposition to Sadr’s stance, remains unwilling to call elections before a new head of government is appointed. As Iraq’s constitution requires a Shia prime minister, leadership therefore sits between the Sadrists and the Coordination Framework who respectively held and hold the strongest position in Parliament.

Sadr called his supporters to hold sit-ins outside Iraqi parliament throughout July to prevent government formation under the Coordination Framework. This ploy was successful and stalemate continued. On 29 August, Sadr, in a bid to turn up the heat on the remaining blocs and direct them toward calling snap elections, announced his withdrawal from politics. Within hours Sadr’s supporters filled the Green Zone and stormed government buildings.

As the day progressed, Sadr’s supporters continued to amass in the area and as night fell members of the Saraya al-Salam, a militia aligned with Sadr, arrived in the zone to provide armed support to Sadr’s supporters. Saraya al-Salam forces clashed with Popular Mobilisation forces, associated with the Coordination Framework, while Iraqi military units were also deployed. The resulting violence led to hundreds of casualties, evacuations of embassies, a nationwide curfew and suspension of flights with Iran and UAE.

As morning came, Sadr called his supporters to stand down and relative calm returned to the Green Zone. However, caretaker Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi threatened his own withdrawal from Parliament should violence continue. Further violence has not been reported since 29 August as early September coincides with the Arbaeen Shia pilgrimage which has provided a natural cooperation background for Shia on either side of the Sadr-Coordination Framework divide.

Iraq’s political environment remains tenuous, the social and security environment remains equally tenuous. Eruptions of violence to the scale witnessed on 29 August cannot be discounted in the near future, especially in the case of the resignation of Prime Minister Kadhimi or the formation of government without Sadr bloc representation. A new round of protests centred on the Green Zone by Sadrists, joined by the anti-corruption Tishreen Movement, are expected to begin from 1 October.

Indi Phillips is a Lebanon-based political and security risk analyst covering Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.

Share

Human intelligence. Powered by technology.

Protect your organisation’s assets

Complement your expertise with our comprehensive risk reports
You can concentrate on protection strategies because we’ve already done the initial research. Riskline has risk reports for over 225 countries and regions around the world, and city safety reports for over 250 cities. We follow developments around the world everyday so you can stay focused on protecting your assets.

Let our experts show you how Riskline can keep you informed.

Power your data-driven insurance

Risk intelligence that helps you manage loss ratios and generate new revenue
Improve the accuracy of your underwriting and dynamic pricing models with our suite of destination risk reports and 24/7 global alerts. We follow developments around the world everyday so you can take comfort that your product decisions reflect up-to-date risk information. Our data can also be integrated as a value-added service by providing pre-travel advice and risk alerts that keep customers updated wherever they are in the world.

Let our experts show you how Riskline can keep you informed.

Manage COVID-19 disruptions

Your single trusted source for COVID-19 risk and restrictions around the globe
Stay updated with our up-to-the-minute information on testing, vaccination and quarantine requirements, COVID-19 infection rates and trends, and local restrictions. You can easily integrate our data directly into your systems through our dedicated COVID-19 API and TravelCheck widget, or get detailed reports in one place through the Microsite.

Let our experts show you how Riskline can keep you informed.

Offer travellers vital trip information

Offer your clients a full package of travel services
You’re the experts in bookings, itineraries and expenses, let our experts take care of destination risk assessments and real-time travel alerts. In this increasingly volatile world, you can offer your customers the best view of where it’s safe for them to travel, and what to expect on their trip.

Let our experts show you how Riskline can keep you informed.

Make decisions quickly with verified information

Ensure duty of care for employees and stay updated
When responding to a crisis you want to stay up-to-date with accurate information. We take care of providing up-to-date risk alerts so you can focus on planning and acting. Our destination risk reports ensure your employees are well prepared when they travel to high-risk areas, with detailed analysis of on-the-ground risks and baseline operating conditions.

Let our experts show you how Riskline can keep you informed.

Travellers are safer when they stay informed

Riskline Alert Messaging operates all day, every day. Each alert contains essential intelligence, practical advice and precise geographic data about risks to traveller safety or impacts on travel plans. When we are able to get advanced warning, notices are also issued for events happening in the future.
Riskline Informer
Keep informed of key developments around the world.

Helping travellers manage Covid-19 disruptions

We have closely tracked developments associated with COVID-19 since late 2019, gathering detailed information on entry and exit requirements, You can get our real-time COVID-19 intelligence via alerts, API, microsite, and the TravelCheck widget.
Let our experts show you how Riskline can keep you informed.

Risk ratings you can build a travel policy around

Riskline has detailed assessments for more than 225 countries and territories around the world. Each report has an easy-to-understand Risk Level™ that can be integrated into travel policies and other business operations. Risk assessments include an overview of the security and travel safety situation in a country, and detailed analysis of the political, terrorism, conflict, unrest, crime, natural, health and local transport risks.
Let our experts show you how Riskline can keep you informed.

Know more about where you actually go

We assess the safety of more than 250 global cities, assigning each a clear Risk Level. In addition to city-specific threats and other local knowledge, every report has a map of important locations down to street level.
Use Cases
See how our City Safety Reports can help keep your travellers safe.

People make better decisions when they have the full picture

Advisories are detailed assessments of ongoing security situations and travel issues. We publish reports for high-risk geographic areas, political and security crises, persisting travel disruptions and major upcoming events, such as elections and international sporting competitions.
Let our experts show you how Riskline can keep you informed.

Everything your travellers need to know before they travel

Riskline’s TravelPrep provides important safety information directly to travellers, empowering them to travel safer and smarter.
Let our experts show you how Riskline can keep you informed.

Get prepared before you travel

Riskline Pre-Travel Advisories (PTAs) are exactly what a traveller needs to know about their destination before they leave home. Each report is a concise summary of the security and travel safety situation for any destination, and can be sent straight to travellers’ emails.

Let our experts show you how Riskline can keep you informed.

The right guidance for specific needs

Not all travellers are the same. Riskline’s Specific Traveller Advice includes country-specific information tailored for LGBTQ+ travellers, female travellers and tech-dependent travellers.

Riskline Informer
Keep informed of key developments around the world.

Covid-19 travel advice at your fingertips

Don’t let COVID-19 confusion get in the way of your customers’ decisions. Give them a tool at their fingertips that lets them see the implications of Covid on their travel plans and how best to prepare for their trip. TravelCheck displays up to date risk and infection scores, at-a-glance information on their destination and need-to-know information on departure, in-flight and arrival.

It’s easy to customise your widget with your own brand colour and poster image, to seamlessly integrate it into your website.

Our simple Javascript installation will get you up and running in no time. A few lines of code is all it takes to install the widget, with 2 display modes available – inline for embedding into a single page, or modal for a floating, site-wide travel assistant.

Interested in trying our TravelCheck widget? Get in touch.
Cookies

We use cookies to improve our services.
Find out more