Demonstrators who forced their way into the Green Zone, the fortified section of Iraq’s capital, occupying the house of parliament over the weekend, have withdrawn today at the behest of key cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, though on their way out they warned they would be back.
The protesters have backed a campaign of reform, including the installation of a technocrat cabinet, for months now, and after two solid weeks of parliament’s inability to vote on the matter, this most recent failure to even achieve a quorum appeared to be the last straw, as protesters quickly moved in, smashing up parliament.
Protesters reiterated their demands to see the reform campaign move forward, cautioning they would return to the capital by the end of the week if they have to do so to keep up pressure on the government, with Prime Minister Hayder Abadi calling for the arrest of them all.
Sadr himself has been a loud advocate for reform and for the technocrat cabinet, and while Abadi nominated such a cabinet, he is facing massive opposition from both his own party and the Kurdish parties, leaving open the question of whether a cabinet can ever be agreed upon.
Whatever else happens, parliament is a wreck, Abadi is weaker than ever, and the protesters demonstrate that the appetite for reform is growing much faster among the public than among the political leadership. This seems a recipe for more such protests in the weeks ahead.