Iraq declared a state of emergency in Baghdad after supporters of Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr stormed parliament, the Interior Ministry said, but Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said late Saturday the city’s Green Zone was under control.
Mobile-phone video footage broadcast on Iraqi news channel al-Sharqiya showed hundreds of al-Sadr’s supporters inside the legislature on Saturday. Al-Sadr earlier on Saturday accused lawmakers of sectarianism in their selection of ministers and ordered his bloc to withdraw from the parliament session where members were preparing to finish voting on a new cabinet.
The U.S. Embassy is monitoring the situation, it said in an e-mailed statement, adding that reports that embassy personnel are being evacuated are inaccurate. The highly fortified Green Zone houses most of the country’s ministries and foreign embassies.
“Under the Vienna Convention, all diplomatic missions are protected by the host country’s security forces,” it said. “We have full confidence that the Iraqi Security Forces will meet its obligations.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who has pledged to give minority Sunnis and Kurds a bigger role in the Shiite-dominated government, has faced resistance to an effort to replace politicians in key roles with technocrats. He’s also under fire for his handling of a financial crisis and charges of government corruption. Parliament canceled its session earlier this month after a failed vote on whether to retain its embattled speaker.