Report

Protesters Withdraw from Green Zone after Storming Parliament

After the Iraqi parliament again could not reach an agreement on the remaining cabinet nominations put forward by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, protesters rallied by influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr overran the Green Zone on Saturday. The crowd remained mostly nonviolent, though some property was damaged and there was at least one report of a parliamentarian ...

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After the Iraqi parliament again could not reach an agreement on the remaining cabinet nominations put forward by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, protesters rallied by influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr overran the Green Zone on Saturday. The crowd remained mostly nonviolent, though some property was damaged and there was at least one report of a parliamentarian being attacked. The protesters filled the parliament building, chanting anti-corruption slogans. For some, it was the first time they had seen the seat of government or many of the Saddam Hussein-era monuments at the center of Baghdad, and many went sightseeing and swam in fountains. On Sunday, the protesters withdrew at the urging of Sadr, who asked his followers to leave in an orderly fashion and help clean the area as they left. Abadi has returned to the parliament building to survey damage left by the protesters and called for a parliament to resume consideration of the cabinet nominations and other anti-corruption reforms.

Elsewhere in Iraq, the Islamic State targeted the Shia city of Samawa with two car bombs on Sunday, killing 30 people and wounding at least 50 others. Another attack killed at least 13 Shia pilgrims near a shrine in Baghdad.

Diplomats Meet to Discuss Restoring Syria Ceasefire

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Geneva today continuing a series of meetings to try to restore an internationally-backed ceasefire to the city of Aleppo. The city lapsed back into violence last week, and while clashes abated somewhat today, the fighting remains worse than during the ceasefire. Kerry is reportedly discussing the establishment of protected neighborhoods with “hard line” boundaries that could be backed by U.S. and Russian support.

Headlines

  • The Yemeni government indefinitely suspended their participation in peace talks in Kuwait on Sunday in response to Houthi forces overrunning a military base held by pro-government troops north of Sanaa.

 

  • Egyptian police blocked a meeting of hundreds of workers gathering for International Workers’ Day on Sunday as part of an ongoing crackdown on assemblies of independent unions; the meeting was supposed to take place at the journalist syndicate’s building, which was surrounded by police and later stormed resulting in the arrests of two journalists.

 

  • Gunmen and a car bomber attacked a police headquarters in Gaziantep, Turkey, on Sunday, killing a police officer and wounding 22 other people; four soldiers were killed and another 14 wounded in other separate PKK attacks in southeastern Turkey yesterday.

 

  • The Iranian government has passed a law that will grant citizenship to the families of foreigners who have died fighting on behalf of Iran, according to Iranian state media; the law will apply to deaths from the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s onward.

 

  • The German government will take a proposal to the EU Commission to extend its more rigorous border controls for an additional six months in response to the influx of refugees and migrants from the Middle East.

Arguments and Analysis

How the ‘Green Zone’ Helped Destroy Iraq” (Emma Sky, Politico Magazine)

“Originally established in 2003 to protect the American occupiers, the walled-in Green Zone was supposed to have been temporary. But Iraqi elites took it over after the Americans left, spending public money on their mansions, generators, cars, security details, homes overseas and payouts to cronies. In this way the Green Zone has come to symbolize all that is wrong with the legitimacy and capability of Iraq’s government. Safe behind the concrete blast walls and razor wire — at least until Saturday — Iraq’s political elites live in splendid isolation, totally unaccountable to the Iraqi people and using the country’s oil wealth to fund their own luxurious lifestyles. Inside their air-conditioned buildings in the Green Zone, politicians have bickered over how to divide up the country’s budget among them. In stark contrast, ordinary Iraqis have long been afflicted by car bombs, lack of running water and intermittent electricity — without their government seeming to either care or be capable of improving their situation.”

 

Developing Long-Term Socioeconomic Strategy in Israel: Institutions, Processes, and Supporting Information” (Howard J. Shatz, Steven W. Popper, Sami Friedrich, Shmuel Abramzon, Anat Brodsky, Roni Harel, Ofir Cohen, Rand Corporation)

“Israel’s macroeconomic performance since the mid-1980s has been admirable. Growth of gross domestic product and high-technology exports, for example, has been higher than in the countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as a group and in the world as a whole. Even with this growth, inflation in Israel has generally run lower than in the OECD and the world since 2000. However, Israel faces a variety of economic and social challenges, including rising costs of living, differential ability across the population to participate in and benefit from the growth in the economy, and the public’s questions about the government’s role and its ability to play that role. Faced with more-immediate, major existential challenges throughout Israel’s history, the government has not routinely developed and successfully implemented strategic responses to socioeconomic problems that demand longer-term, coordinated policy action. Effective means to respond to such longer-term challenges may require a more systematic approach to policymaking by the government.”

-J. Dana Stuster

HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI/AFP/Getty Images

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