Iraqi officials declared a state of emergency in Baghdad after protesters stormed the nation’s parliament building on Saturday.
Hundreds of demonstrators tore down parts of the concrete barricades ringing the heavily fortified Green Zone, home to numerous government buildings and foreign embassies in the Iraqi capital, to reach the legislative chamber.
Once inside, the protesters sat at legislators’ desks, unfurled banners and Iraqi flags, and reportedly began ransacking parliamentary offices. No injuries have been reported, and other government buildings and nearby embassies appear unaffected.
Saturday’s protests followed a series of mass demonstrations against corruption and political deadlock throughout Baghdad in recent weeks. The New York Times has more:
The protesters were mostly supporters of the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, who has rallied his followers to push for demands and has largely supported [Iraqi Prime Minister Haidir al-Abadi]’s promises, still unfulfilled, to improve how the government works. The ease with which they penetrated the rim of the Green Zone suggested that security forces were supportive of the protesters, as there were no reports of shots fired.
The Parliament was stormed after a session that had been scheduled for Saturday was postponed because a quorum could not be reached. Mr. Abadi had been expected to introduce several new ministers as part of a promise to overhaul his cabinet and fill it with technocrats instead of politicians beholden to a party or sect.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Baghdad, his first in five years, on Thursday to urge Iraqi lawmakers and senior politicians to end the stalemate and focus on defeating ISIS.