UN appeals for calm after Baghdad Green Zone Breach

The UN envoy to Iraq on Saturday expressed deep concern about Friday's demonstrations when hundreds of followers of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr broke into the heavily fortified Green Zone, calling for calm and unity to achieve reforms and confront the Islamic State (IS) group which seizes parts of Iraq's northern and western regions since 2014.

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Iraq

“What happened on Friday shows how events could take a different turn and escalate, causing casualties,” UN envoy to Iraq Jan Kubis said in a statement.

IraqOn Friday, Sadr’s followers, in the afternoon, crossed security barriers on Jamhouriyah Bridge and marched to a main gate of the Green Zone, while the security forces guarding the government zone opened fire in the air and fired tear gas to disperse the protesters.

Despite the fierce resistance from the security forces guarding the main gates of the Green Zone, the demonstrators managed to enter the prime minister’s compound, including his own office, while dozens of others entered many surrounding government offices.

The breach of the restricted district left at least 120 people wounded, including many security members, by the live bullets and tear gas used by the security forces to disperse the protesters.

“Restoring calm is key for Iraq to be able to move forward in finding a political solution based on inclusive consultations to resume the work of the united parliament to confirm a reformed government that is able and willing to proceed with the reforms that will address the priorities and challenges the country and the people face, first of all fighting Daesh (IS group) in unity,” Kubis, who is also chief of Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), said.

Kubis urged the Iraqi political parties to immediately engage in dialogue to ease the tensions and find a way out of the political deadlock in order to avoid chaos that would only benefits the IS group.

“Only the enemies of Iraq, Daesh at the forefront, benefit from chaos. We are certain the patriotic Iraqis will not allow this to happen,” Kubis concluded.

Late last month, Sadr’s followers broke into the government zone and occupied the parliament building, but pulled out to give time for the political parties to agree on reforms demanded by the protesters.

A series of failed reform measures have paralyzed the Iraqi authorities as the country struggles to fight the Islamic State militant group, which seizes swathes of territories in northern and western Iraq. The country is also in dire need to respond to an economic crisis sparked in part by a plunge in global oil prices. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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