Iraq: Police clash with pro-Iran demonstrators in Baghdad

Published : November 06, 2021 16:44 IST

Many of the protesters view October's election results as fraudulent. Photo: Ahmed Saad/REUTERS

The protesters are angered by October's election results, which saw pro-Iran groups lose seats in parliament.

Hundreds of pro-Iran demonstrators took to the streets of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, on November 5, leading to clashes with police. The protesters are angered by October's election results, which saw pro-Iran groups lose seats in the Iraqi parliament. A bloc led by Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a skeptic of Iranian influence in Iraq, won the most votes.

What do we know so far?

The demonstrators threw rocks at security forces and attempted to break into the high-security Green Zone, which is home to the U.S. Embassy and Iraq's election commission. Police used tear gas and fired live rounds in the air to disperse the crowd. "There were 125 people injured, 27 of them civilians and the rest from the security forces," the Iraqi Health Ministry said. The ministry has not confirmed any deaths from the clashes.

The Conquest (Fatah) Alliance, the political arm of the pro-Iranian former military force Hashed al-Shaabi, won 15 out of 329 seats in the October 10 election, down from 48 seats in the previous parliament. Supporters of Hashed have labeled the vote a "fraud," yet have not provided solid evidence to back up their allegations. An anonymous leader of the Hezbollah Brigades, a faction of Hashed, told news agency AFP that "two demonstrators were killed" on November 5.

'No to America, no to fraud'

The protesters reportedly chanted "No to America, no to fraud" as they marched through Baghdad. Hashed's backers have demanded the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has ordered a probe into the violence during November 5's demonstrations.

The protests come as Iraq experiences multiple political and economic crises. Iraqis have become increasingly frustrated by corruption and rising poverty in the country. The coronavirus pandemic has also dampened Iraq's economic outlook. The elections witnessed a record low turnout, with only 41 per cent of Iraqis having cast their ballots.

wd/nm (Reuters, AFP, dpa)