Thousands of protesters from Iraq's southern provinces have entered Baghdad's Green Zone again, chanting slogans against Iran’s interference in Iraq’s internal affairs. 

This is the second mass congregation for Friday prayer by supporters of influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr -- who seeks to curb the influence of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Iraqi politics. The protests are a show of force by the firebrand cleric whose party won the highest number of seats in the October 2021 elections but withdrew after failing to form a government with Sunni and Kurdish allies in Iraq's hectic power-sharing system.

Iran-backed parties have dominated many state institutions for years. 

Protesting against corruption and political mismanagement, hundreds of followers of Sadr occupied the country's parliament on Saturday, July 30, after mounting concrete barricades on roads leading to Baghdad’s Green Zone, which houses government buildings and foreign embassies.

The protesters stressed the need for an independent government in Baghdad, emphasizing that they do not want an Iranian-linked government or a subordinate one. They especially rejected a Tehran-backed prime ministerial nominee. On Monday, July 25, the Coordination Framework -- a coalition of Shiite parties close to Tehran -- nominated Mohammed al-Sudani as the prime minister, a decision opposed by Sadr. 

According to Iran International correspondent in Baghdad Truske Sadeghi, Sadr also held a meeting with Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the special representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, to break the months-long deadlock.

Sadr, reportedly, has also agreed to meet with Hadi al-Amiri, the head of a Shiite political party and military organization close to Tehran and the de facto leader of Iran-backed Shiite militia Hashd al-Shaabi, to talk about an early election in the country. 

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