Following a call by Iraq's influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to extend the scope of protest rallies, several government offices in Baghdad were besieged by his supporters on Sunday.
Thousands of al-Sadr’s followers prayed outside parliament on Friday in a show of support for the populist leader, who has given a "final ultimatum" to Iran-backed Shiite groups and called on the judiciary to dissolve parliament by the end of next week. The judiciary has said it does not have the authority to do so.
Supporters of rival Iraqi factions have been on the streets of Baghdad since Friday to call for a new government, with supporters of Sadr -- who seeks to curb the influence of the Islamic Republic in Iraqi politics -- demanding early elections and his Iran-backed opponents saying the results of last October's poll should be honored.
While supporters of the Sadrist movement have occupied the fortified Green Zone, which houses parliament, government buildings and foreign embassies, the proponents of the Coordination Framework -- a coalition of Shiite parties close to Tehran – have held a rally in one of Baghdad’s streets.
The protests in the green zone 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.
Last Friday, August 5, thousands of protesters from Iraq's southern provinces entered Baghdad's Green Zone again, chanting slogans against Iran’s interference in Iraq’s internal affairs.