US embassy in Iraq concerned over reports of violence


 The US embassy in Baghdad on Saturday expressed concern over reports of violence as protestors stormed the capital’s fortified Green Zone, and called on parties in Iraq to abstain from violence.

"We are closely monitoring the unrest in Baghdad today and are concerned by reports of violence,” read a statement from the embassy. "We join the call by parties across the Iraqi political spectrum to remain calm, abstain from violence, and resolve their political differences through a peaceful process guided by the Iraqi constitution.”

Scores of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr supporters stormed into the streets of Baghdad on Saturday morning for the second time in under a week, entering the Iraqi capital’s Green Zone, where government offices, the parliament, and foreign embassies are located.

Clashes between protestors and security forces on Saturday led to the injury of 125 people, including 25 members of the security forces, according to the latest figures from the Iraqi health ministry.

Protestors have announced a sit-in inside the parliament building in opposition to the nomination of Mohammed Shia' al-Sudani, Iraq’s former minister of labor and social affairs, as a candidate for the country’s prime minister position by the pro-Iran Coordination Framework.

Several Iraqi officials have called for a national dialogue.

"We stress the urgent need to hold an honest national dialogue that is keen on the interest of the country and citizens, aimed at ensuring the protection of the security and stability of the country,” read a statement from Iraqi President Barham Salih.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi called on political parties in the country to "sit down, negotiate and reach an understanding for the sake of Iraq and the Iraqis”.

Iraqi Parliamentary Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi decided to suspend the legislature’s sessions "until further notice” and called on the government to protect state institutions.

Sadr, who was the main winner of the October elections, withdrew from the parliament last month after failing to reach an agreement with the rival Coordination Framework to form a government.

However, despite no longer having representatives in the parliament, the Sadrist movement remains strong and popular on Iraqi streets, and a single tweet from the cleric pours thousands of protestors to the streets.

Coordination Framework leader Nouri al-Maliki on Saturday called all parties to enter peaceful dialogue.

"Let everyone know that nothing but dialogue and tolerance between the parties to the political process will stop the deterioration in Iraq,” he said in a statement


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