News / Middle East

    Shi'ite Cleric's Backers Rally Again in Baghdad, Demand Reforms

    Supporters of prominent Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr try to remove a barbed wire fence as they break the checkpoint on the bridge leading to Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone in Iraq, March 18, 2016.
    Supporters of prominent Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr try to remove a barbed wire fence as they break the checkpoint on the bridge leading to Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone in Iraq, March 18, 2016.
    Edward Yeranian

    Thousands of supporters of Iraqi Shi'ite leader Muqtada al-Sadr demonstrated in the center of Baghdad for a fourth consecutive Friday, amid calls for government reform.

    Iraq's Interior Ministry said it refused permission for the protest, but security forces appeared to have relented. Iraqi television channels showed throngs of the al-Sadr supporters crossing several bridges into Baghdad's governmental Green Zone. Other video showed protesters setting up a sit-in inside the zone, which houses parliament, top leaders' residences, and the U.S. and British embassies.

    Other demonstrators marched on Baghdad's central Tahrir Square.

    Iraqi media reported that al-Sadr issued a statement to security forces “thanking them for assuring the safety of demonstrators” and allowing them to hold their sit-in.

    One middle-aged protester sitting on cushions inside a sit-in tent told Iraqi media that he and fellow demonstrators were determined to continue their movement until it yielded results. He said the Green Zone was now open to the people and the sit-in protesters wouldn't leave the area until the entire regime was changed, adding that he hoped such change would happen soon.

    Supporters of prominent Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr hold a sit-in in the streets near the gates of Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, March 18, 2016.
    Supporters of prominent Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr hold a sit-in in the streets near the gates of Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, March 18, 2016.

    Al-Sadr's spokesman, Sheikh Salah Obeidi, claimed that “hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are participating” in Friday's demonstrations “to demand reform of the government.” Al-Sadr has given the government 45 days to appoint a new cabinet made up of technocrats.

    Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared in a televised address earlier that he supported the people's right to demonstrate if they did so “legally.” He said citizens have the right to express opposition and to demand public services, the sanctioning of corrupt officials and reform — if it is done within the law.

    Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches political science at the University of Paris, told VOA he thought al-Sadr was probably acting at the behest of neighboring Iran. He said al-Sadr is part of Iran's chess game in Iraq, alongside other pro-Iranian actors, and might be trying to develop a civil movement to protest corruption with Iran's encouragement.

    Former Shi'ite Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, an Iranian ally who was ousted as head of government in 2014 after bitter political wrangling, has expressed support for Sadr's protest movement.

    You May Like

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora