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Iraqi Protestors Storm Parliament; State of Emergency Declared

Iraqi protestors outside the Parliament earlier today where they staged a sit-in before storming the building. Photo credit: @AlFayth (Twitter)

Iraqi protestors outside the Parliament earlier today where they staged a sit-in after storming the building. Photo credit: @AlFayth (Freelance Iraqi journalist: Methaq Al-fayyadh/Twitter)

Hundreds of Iraqi protestors stormed the Parliament building, in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, in protest against a deadlock in approving a new government today. A state of emergency was declared, further escalating the multiple crises the country is facing.

The protestors, supporters of Shia cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, broke into the building after MPs failed to meet for a vote, after failing to reach a quorum. Al Sadr is pushing Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al Abadi to replace ministers with non-partisan technocrats, a move refused by powerful parties in parliament. The protestors, who earlier this week, marched towards the Green Zone, which houses government buildings and embassies and is considered the safest part of Baghdad, later vacated the building and are now staging a sit-in in the Triumphal Arch area, also in the Green Zone.

This political crisis has been brewing for months, culminating in today's escalation which drove protestors to the Green Zone, an off-limits area for ordinary Iraqis. Thousands of Iraqis have been protesting since last summer against the lack of services, poverty and government corruption. Iraq, already in a political quagmire, is facing serious levels of instability, with the war against ISIS militant group on the one hand, and a struggling economy, on the other. Abadi was expected to name new members of the cabinet today to appease the protestors.

On social media, Iraqi netizens reported today's incidents as the drama unfolded. Jubilant demonstrators stormed parliament waving Iraqi flags and chanting. Reports say some parliamentarians were attacked and beaten by angry protestors, as others tried to pull them back and calm them down.

Iraqi blogger Haidar Hamzoz tweets:

And this video, shared on Facebook and watched more than 300K times until now, shows the demonstrators inside parliament.

Hamzoz shares photographs showing the protestors cleaning the parliament before leaving:

DC-based journalist Zaid Benjamin shares this video of the sit-in in the Triumphal Arch area:

Iraqi protestors in the Triumphal Arch area

Hayder Al Shakeri shares this video:

And Mustafa Salim says this is the first time in 13 years ordinary Iraqis assemble in the Triumphal Arch area.

London-based Iraqi blogger Sajad Jiyad notes that the driving force behind today's protests was “despair with the political class”:

And Lebanese satirist Karl Sharro adds his two cents:

Will today's protests push for change which will benefit Iraqis or further threaten Iraq's fragile security situation?

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