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The 2015–16 Iraqi protests over deteriorating economic conditions and state corruption started on 16 July 2015 in Baghdad and most of Iraqi cities, mainly in the central and southern provinces.

2015–16 Iraqi protests
احداث مظاهرات في العراق.JPG
Iraqi protests in central Baghdad on 11 March 2016
Date16 July 2015 – 2016
Iraq (since 30 April 2016 also in the Green Zone, Baghdad)
Caused byCorruption
Poor basic services
Iranian intervention in Iraq
American intervention in Iraq
Parties to the civil conflict
Lead figures


2015 protestsEdit

On 16 July, clashes between police and demonstrators led to the death of one young man, with two others wounded.[3]

On 2 August, hundreds took to the streets in the southern cities of Nasriyah and Najaf to protest over poor living conditions, including power shortages, and urged authorities to fight widespread corruption.[4]

On 7 August, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets to demand changes to the government in central Tahrir Square and jammed the main streets around it, some calling on Prime Minister Abadi to fire corrupt ministers.[5]

2016 protestsEdit

On 30 April 2016, thousands of protesters entered the Green Zone in Baghdad and occupied the Iraqi parliament building. This happened after the Iraqi parliament did not approve new government ministers. The protesters included supporters of Shia cleric Muqtada Al Sadr. Although Iraqi security forces were present, they did not attempt to stop the protesters from entering the parliament building.[6]


In 2014, Iraq's election led to a fractured parliament and inability to quickly form a government. Following frustration at the lack of progress, Muqtada al-Sadr promised to lead a sit-in near parliament within the Green Zone in calling for reforms to end corruption.[7][8] Despite attempts by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to re-shuffle his cabinet,[9] he carried out the threat[10][11] for a short period before calling on his supporters to disperse.[9] The political instability in the country has been disconcerting to foreign governments,[12][13] especially amongst rumours of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki political maneuvering.[14][15] The U.S. had earlier called for the replacement of al-Maliki as prime minister as a condition for fighting ISIL.[16][17] A few days before the protests, parliament failed to reach a quorum to approve new ministers to replace the current government.[18] Al-Abadi warned that a failure to form a new government would hurt the war against ISIL.[19]

Breaching of Green Zone and parliamentEdit

Shorty after al-Sadr ended a news conference in Najaf where he condemned the political deadlock and warned that "either corrupt [officials] and quotas remain or the entire government will be brought down and no one will be exempt from that" and that he would take a two-month withdrawal from public life as he was "waiting for the great popular uprising and the major revolution to stop the march of the corrupt";[19] though he did not order his supporters to enter the Green Zone, Shia protesters breached the barricades at the Green Zone and stormed the Iraqi parliament building.[18] After crossing a bridge across the Tigris River, a guard at a checkpoint reported that the protesters had not been searched before entering, while television footage showed them waving the flag of Iraq whiles some were standing on top of concrete blast walls at the outer barrier to the Green Zone.[20] They chanted "the cowards ran away," in reference to MPs leaving parliament.[21] While there were scenes of rioting,[11] other protesters shouted "peacefully, peacefully" as they tried to contain the destruction. Some of the protesters pulled barbed wire across a road leading to one of the exits from the Green Zone, while several vehicles believed to belong to MPs were attacked and damaged.[18] While there were no clashes with the security forces, an army special forces unit was dispatched with armoured vehicles and all entrances to the city of Baghdad were shut "as a precautionary measure to maintain the capital’s security," according to an unnamed security official, although no curfew had been imposed. Hundreds of protesters were seen dancing, waving Iraqi flags and chanting pro-al-Sadr slogans, while others appeared to be breaking furniture.[19] Security was also increased at state institutions such as the headquarters for the Central Bank of Iraq and the airport.[22] Other protesters were said to be convening at the road to Baghdad International Airport to stop politicians from leaving the city and/or the country.[23]

The security forces declared a state of emergency in Baghdad soon after the protesters broke through cordons to enter the Green Zone.[24]


President Fuad Masum called on the protesters to leave the parliament building but added: "Burying the regime of party and sectarian quotas cannot be delayed." Sheikh Muhanad al-Gharrawi, an al-Sadr spokesman, also said that al-Sadr had called on his supporters to evacuate the parliament building and set up tents outside. "Negotiations are ongoing between security and government officials and protesters’ representatives to make sure their demands are met."[19]


2017 protestsEdit

On 11 February, at least five protesters and two policeman have been killed in Baghdad when thousands of people took part in a rally. At least 320 protesters and seven police officers were wounded as violence gripped the rally. Late on that day, there were reports that six or seven Katyusha-type rockets were fired at the Green Zone from within Baghdad. No people claim responsibility and there no casualties reported.[25] Moreover, Iraqi security forces had sealed off routes leading to the capital’s fortified Green Zone after the protests.[26]

On 24 March, thousands of anti-government protesters filled up the streets of downtown Baghdad with Muqtada al-Sadr threatened to boycott the upcoming provincial elections, urging followers to join a "reform revolution."[27]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "بالوثيقة.. مظاهرات في الوسط والجنوب مدعومة من حزب البعث المحظور". Retrieved Oct 2, 2019.
  2. ^ قناة العهد الفضائية (10 September 2018). "مصادر : تظاهرات البصرة انحرفت عن مسارها بتخطيط سعودي واشراف اميركي". Retrieved 15 February 2019 – via YouTube.
  3. ^ Harith al-Hasan (2015). "Social Protest in Iraq and Reality of the Internal Shia Dispute". Al Jazeera.
  4. ^ "Iraqis protest over power outages and poor services". Al Jazeera.
  5. ^ "'We've had enough': Baghdad protests challenge Iraq's prime minister". The Washington Post.
  6. ^ "Thousands of protesters storm Iraq parliament green zone". AFP. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  7. ^ "Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr calls for Baghdad sit-in". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 2016-04-30.
  8. ^ "Thousands demonstrate at Baghdad's Green Zone". Retrieved 2016-04-30.
  9. ^ a b "Thousands Of Iraqis Answer Moqtada al-Sadr's Call To Protest". Retrieved 2016-04-30.
  10. ^ Saif Hameed. "Moqtada al-Sadr's followers begin anti-corruption sit-in in Baghdad". Reuters. Retrieved 2016-04-30.
  11. ^ a b "Water bottles thrown in Iraqi parliament as thousands take to streets". Retrieved 2016-04-30.
  12. ^ "The political crisis rocking Baghdad and why it matters for the war on ISIS". Retrieved 2016-04-30.
  13. ^ "In Saudi visit, Obama works to calm Gulf tensions with US". New Milford Spectrum. Retrieved 2016-04-30.
  14. ^ "Iraq's former Prime Minister Maliki said behind troubles in parliament". Retrieved 2016-04-30.
  15. ^ "A Constitutional Coup". Kurdish Globe. Retrieved 2016-04-30.
  16. ^ "Iraq's Maliki: I won't quit as condition of US strikes against Isis militants". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-04-30.
  17. ^ "Why we stuck with Maliki — and lost Iraq". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-04-30.
  18. ^ a b c "Thousands of protesters break into Baghdad Green Zone". Samaa TV. Retrieved 2016-04-30.
  19. ^ a b c d "Sadr followers storm into Baghdad's Green Zone, political crisis deepens -". Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  20. ^ "Hundreds of protesters storm Baghdad's Green Zone: Witnesses". Retrieved 2016-04-30.
  21. ^ "Iraqi Shia protesters storm parliament, demand end to corruption". Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  22. ^ "Latest Trading & Business Videos - Commodity Online". Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  23. ^ "Anti-corruption protesters storm Baghdad's Green Zone, enter parliament". RT International. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  24. ^ "State of emergency declared in Baghdad as protesters take Iraqi parliament". Washington Post. April 30, 2016.
  25. ^ "Violence grips protest rally in Baghdad". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  26. ^ "Thousands of Iraqis protest in central Baghdad to press for reforms". Kurdistan24. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  27. ^ Ali Abdul-Hassan. "At Baghdad rally, Iraq cleric threatens to boycott elections".