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Thousands of protesters occupied Iraq’s parliament this week in protest against corruption and the nomination of a prime minister candidate supported by the country’s Iranian-backed parties, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Supporters of the fiery cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stormed the capital’s “Green Zone” – the fortified area housing many government buildings and the US embassy – chanting anti-Iran slogans and denouncing the nomination of Mohammed Sudani as the country’s next prime minister.
The demonstrations come amid a political impasse that has gripped Iraq following the October parliamentary elections, which saw Sadr’s movement becoming a key political power broker after winning the largest share of seats in the legislature.
Sadr and his supporters vowed to fight corruption and reduce Iran’s influence in the country. But the movement failed to form a government and recently Sadr withdrew from the political process along with his supporters in parliament, who resigned en masse.
The withdrawal paved the way for the Coordination Framework bloc, a coalition led by Iran-backed Shiite parties, to form a government.
The bloc picked Sudani to be the country’s next prime minister, whom Sadr’s allies see as a close associate of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a close ally of Iran and a rival to the cleric.
The recent protests were a sign that Sadr and his allies have not completely withdrawn from the political sphere and will try to block the Coordination Framework’s choice of prime minister.
Wednesday’s demonstrations were the largest since the October elections when enormous protests against pervasive corruption and Iran prompted the government to seek early elections.