Monday August 29 started off like recent days with Moqtada al-Sadr announcing that that he was abandoning politics another time and his followers marching on the Green Zone even though it already occupied sections of the area already. The security forces fired sound bombs and live ammunition at the crowd and ended up killing at least one Sadrist. Then everything descended into chaos.
According to Al Hurra members of the Coordination Framework began firing into the air inside the Green Zone and then gun battles between the Framework and Sadrists began. The Guardian reported that at least 12 people ended up being killed in Baghdad but the shooting continued throughout the night. The clashes also spread throughout Baghdad as the Sadrists and Framework mobilized their followers. Twitter was full of footage of the fighting.
The Sadrists who have a much larger base also came out in Maysan, Wasit, Basra, Dhi Qar. and Muthanna. In several of those provinces and Baghdad they attacked their Framework rivals, Asaib Ahl Al-Haq, Hikma, Dawa and Badr. which led to fighting in Basra.
The big question is what comes next? Is this the start of a new civil war this time between the Shiite ruling parties? If it is the Framework will have a hard time matching the size and breadth of the Sadrists. They have shown they can bring people out into the streets across Baghdad and the south and has plenty of weapons with its Saraya al-Salam militia. Former military intelligence officer retired Colonel Joey Rayburn believes the Framework will be no match for Sadr and his followers. The Framework is learning that lesson right now and will likely lead them to beg for peace. Whether that changes the political dynamic is another question.
Chulov, Martin, “Deadly violence in Baghdad after cleric says he is quitting politics,” Guardian, 8/29/22
Davison, John and Kadhim, Haider, “Clashes kill 10 as Iraq’s Sadr quits politics, loyalists storm complex,” Reuters, 8/29/22
Al Hurra, “Two dead in Baghdad clashes .. security forces are chasing the protesters,” 8/29/22
Al Mirbad, “The burning of an empty headquarters belonging to Asaib Ahl Al-Haq and a former one of Badr, in addition to the headquarters of the Jihad and Construction in Maysan,” 8/29/22
- “Crossing the highway west of Dhi Qar Governorate,” 8/29/22
- “Heavy shooting in the Al-Baradiya area in the center of Basra, amid tension in the atmosphere,” 8/29/22
- “Our correspondent from Al-Muthanna: The demonstrators are still in front of the governorate office building, and there is no friction with the security forces,” 8/29/22
- “A source in the ports tells Al-Mirbad: The closures include the northern and southern Um Qasr port and Khor al-Zubayr,” 8/29/22
- “Wasit .. The start of open civil disobedience and the closure of all state institutions except for services,” 8/29/22
NRT, “Angry Protestors Storm Green Zone As Sadr ‘Abandons Politics For Good,’” 8/29/22
Rayburn, Joel, “If this breaks into open warfare, I don’t think the IRGC militias are strong enough to withstand the full Sadr movement. Maybe Qais Khazali, & Maliki can fend off Sadr loyalists in the Green Zone. But the Sadrists can seize the rest of Baghdad & the south anytime they want to.” Twitter, 8/29/22
Shaways, Blesa, “Saray Al Salam militia groups arrest members of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq militia group in Nasiriyah southern #Iraq,” Twitter, 8/29/22