Clashes in Baghdad injure 30 as Iran-aligned parties dispute Iraq’s vote

Clashes in Baghdad between Iraqi security forces and supporters of parties disputing the results of the October general elections injured more than two dozen people on Friday, police sources and health workers said.

It was the first significant violent clash between government forces and supporters of political parties, most of which have armed wings and aligned with Iran, as those groups lost dozens of seats in parliament after the vote on 10 October. October.

Police fired tear gas and live ammunition into the air as dozens of protesters threw stones and tried to advance towards Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, which houses government buildings and foreign embassies, security sources said.

More than 21 protesters were injured mostly by smoke inhalation and nine other police officers were injured by being stoned, hospital sources said.

The parties that made the biggest gains in the October elections in Iraq include that of populist Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who publicly opposes Iranian interference in Iraqi politics and has called for all remaining Western troops to withdraw from the country.

Supporters of Iraqi Shiite armed groups hold banners and posters during a protest against the election results near the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq, on October 19, 2021 (credit: THAIER AL-SUDANI / REUTERS).

The Iranian-backed groups that dispute the election outcome are also Shiites, but they follow an Iranian model of theocratic rule that the nationalist Sadr and many ordinary Iraqi Shiites reject.

Iraq’s Shiite majority has dominated the government since the US-led overthrow of Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003. Sunnis and Iraqi Kurds, Iraq’s next largest religious and ethnic groups, lead important alliances in parliament.

The election result was seen as a rejection by voters with foreign influence, especially that of Iran.

The parties disputing the result say there were irregularities in the voting process and the counting of votes, but have not provided hard evidence for their claims.

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